Ask the Rules Guru – Shall We Change?

What does the rule book say?Dear Rules Guru,

In a league match some of the players almost came to blows over the question of changing balls. One player wanted to switch to a new ball between sets because the ball was pretty torn up. An opponent claimed everyone had to agree to the switch. What is the rule?

Torn and Deflocked


Dear Torn and Deflocked,

The APTA rule is clear. According to Rule 4. Use of Paddle and Ball: “…play should continue with the same ball as long as it is in good condition…In tournament matches…at the end of a set, play can continue with the same ball (however, if any one player desires a new ball, a ball change is made)”

I’m assuming that your players will not quibble over the “In tournament matches” qualifier, but check your league rules to see if the league handles ball changes differently.

If you want to switch within a set, all four players must agree.

The same rule also recommends that in bad weather you discuss ball changes before you start play. If you have a plan for changing between sets, or at some other interval, you minimize the odds of being accused of gamesmanship.

Thanks for asking,
The Rules Guru

Torn & Deflocked

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