Pickleball is a game where the aim is to score points. You score points by hitting the ball over the net and into your opponent’s area. You can only score points on your server, so it’s important to serve well. If you can’t serve, you can’t score, and you can’t win!
There are some certain rules you have to know about pickleball serving. We will go over these so that you are ready to start playing. After that, we will cover some more advanced techniques for serving.
Players must serve from behind the baseline, on the left or right side of the court. The server must say what the score is, and then they have to serve the ball into the service area. The ball has to go across the court diagonally. All serves should be underhand and served below your waste.
If the ball doesn’t land in the “non-volley zone” or touch the line at the front of the service area, it is considered in. The server continues serving and must switch sides after each Serve.
Singles Serving Rules
In singles, the player who wins a point serves again. The player must switch service sides after every point. If the scores are even, the player with the Serve serves from the right side of the court. If one player has more points than their opponent, that player serves from the left side of the court. When announcing scores, say your score before your opponent’s score.
Doubles Serving Rules
Each team player gets a turn to serve. The other team then gets to serve. At the beginning of the game, the second server for the first team is skipped.
After each side out, the person who served from the right side will serve again. Then the other player will serve from the right side. The players switch sides after each Serve. Position on the court and which player servers first can be complicated. It is best to learn by playing with someone more experienced who can show you how it works.
There are a number of unique rules that keep Pickleball fun and fair. One such rule is the two-bounce rule. This rule says that both the Serve and the return from the Serve must be groundstrokes. This means that Bob’s Serve should bounce before Alice can return it. Then Bob should wait and let Alice’s return bounce before he can return it.
After the Serve, the first returner can volley the ball. Volleying is when you hit the ball before it bounces on the ground. If you let it bounce first, then it’s a groundstroke.
What’s a “let” in pickleball?
A let is done when a rally is redone for any reason. No point is scored after a let. A lot can happen if something outside the game interferes. E.g., your dog runs off with the ball, but the most common type of let is a service let.
A service let is called when the ball hits the net on a serve but still lands in the proper service court. This usually happens when the ball glances at the top of the net. If a service occurs, the server must serve again without any penalty. Referees and any player can call a let. There’s no limit on how many consecutive lets you do.
If the ball goes above the net and lands on the other team’s side of the court, it is called a ‘fault.’ If the ball goes over the net and lands in your own side of the court but outside of the service area, it is also a fault. It is still in play if the ball goes over the net but touches the net on any other shot.
Step-by-step: How to serve in pickleball
- Step 1: Get in the right position. The serving positions are determined by whether you’re playing singles or doubles, and they change based on the score.
- Step 2: Call the score out. Always say your score first. If you’re playing doubles, make sure to call the service number before the score.
- Step 3: Decide where you want to aim the ball and what method of delivery you’ll utilize.
- Step 4: Compose yourself. Before you serve, it can help to take a deep breath and have a routine. This is like how basketball players take free throws.
- Step 5: With the ball in your other hand, reach out in front of you and drop the ball. Don’t throw the ball up.
- Step 6: Drop the ball by swinging your paddle underhand and striking it in front of your body.
- Step 7: Your swing should have a smooth, relaxed follow-through.
- Step 8: Get ready to hit the ball back when your opponent returns it.
Three Types of Advanced Servers
If you play pickleball a few times, you may begin wondering how to improve your game. Because you can only make points on your Serve, the Serve is a very important part of the game. Recently, I spoke to some advanced players at our local gym to learn serving techniques.
There are three kinds of serves in pickleball:
- High Soft Serve
- Power Serve
- Soft Angle Serve
Each of these techniques has advantages. Mixing up your serves can make your opponent guess and greatly improve your game.
High Soft Serve
The high-soft Serve is when you hit the ball high and deep into your opponent’s court. Beginners and advanced players can use this Serve. It is a versatile service that can change the pace of the game.
You can aim your high-soft Serve to the back or front of the service area. This can be done to make your opponent move, get them out of position, and set up your next shot.
When to Use
You may think that hitting the ball hard and fast is always the best pickleball serving strategy. But this is not always the case. Sometimes it is better to use a finesse serve instead. This can be a good way to surprise your opponent and also draw them closer so you can hit a power serve past them.
This Serve is great for all levels. The high slow arc varies the pace of the game and keeps your opponent guessing. The high arc also keeps your opponent back away from the net.
Finally, this Serve makes the other player put their speed on the ball. With some serves, the opponent can simply block the ball with their paddle. Make your opponent work. This increases the chance they’ll make a mistake.
The power serve is known to be low, fast, and deep into your opponent’s court. You can aim for various spots, including the forehand corner, the backhand corner, or straight at your opponent to mix it up. The power serve is harder to do than the high-soft Serve, but it’s an essential tool if you want to improve your game.
When to Use
If you know your opponent has a poor backhand, use this to your advantage by hitting the ball straight at them. If the other player isn’t so quick, this will force them to make a mistake. Another thing to remember is that returning a serve is always harder if your feet are not set.
You can also use the power serve to your advantage. If your opponent is getting too close to the net after you’ve served a few high-soft serves, you can surprise them with a power serve right at their feet.
This is a difficult service to do. You need to practice a lot to do it well. This Serve goes to the forehand or backhand corner, which makes the other player hit a lot of shots. The low arc and speed make it hard for the other player to return the ball, and they will have a hard time getting ready for their next shot. This also keeps the other player back from the net, making it harder for them to move up.
Soft Angle Serve
The soft angle serves the last of the three main service types. This shot is difficult because you have to aim for a small target. The ball will drop near the kitchen line and sideline. It will bounce outside of the court.
When to Use
When you wish to move your opponent off the edge of the court, use the soft angle serve. This will leave a wide-open lane on the other side of the court. If your opponent doesn’t get back in position quickly enough, you may be able to score an easy point.
This is a great service to use when playing doubles and your opponents are stacked. “Stacking” is a common strategy in doubles where both players are on the same side of the net to return the Serve. Because both players are on the same side, a properly executed soft angle serve can put the opposing team way out of position, leaving a lane open on the opposite side.
The main advantage of this kind of Serve is that it places your opponent out of position. The ball drops near the net, which means the other player has to move quickly to get back in position. You can have a very easy shot down the opposite lane or a lob right over their head if they don’t.
But be careful because this is also known as the most difficult part of the game. Remember, you can’t score if you don’t get the ball to the other side of the court.
How to Serve an Ace
The pickleball ball is light and hollow. This makes it slow down quite a bit when there is wind. If you hit the ball hard, the wind resistance will make it slow down. Because of the ball and the underhand serve rule, it is very difficult to hit a serve passed an opponent.
You can serve an ace by hitting a few short soft serves first. This will make the other player come closer to the net. Then, if the other player’s standing inside the court when you serve, you can hit a power serve right at their feet. Unless the player is very quick, it’ll be difficult for them to return it.
Put Spin on Your Serve
You can include a spin to the ball by pulling your paddle towards you sharply when you hit the ball. This will make it harder for the other player to return the ball. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to put as much spin on the ball as in other sports like tennis or ping pong, but it can still make a difference.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You can improve your Serve by practicing different types of services. The most important part is hitting the ball into play. You could only score points on your Serve, so it’s important to make as many shots as possible when trying these advanced serving techniques.
Remember to mix up your serves and think about when to use each one. You should also think about where you want to place the ball.
Are you also interested to know the benefits of playing pickleball? Click here.
Frequently Asked Questions about Pickleball Serve
What are the rules of serving in pickleball?
To serve, the ball must be hit below your waist with your paddle. You must also have one foot behind the baseline when you hit the ball. Neither foot can touch the ground until after you hit the ball.
Can I toss the ball up on a pickleball serve?
To serve the ball, you must drop it from a height. You cannot throw, toss, or release the ball with any added force. Serve to the other side of the court, behind the baseline, and within the imaginary lines on either side of the court.
Can the return of Serve in pickleball land in the kitchen?
If the ball lands in the non-volley zone (kitchen), it’s an automatic fault, and you lose the point or service even if it hits the net first.
How is the serving team decided in pickleball?
The first Serve in each point is from the right/even court. If someone scores a point, the other team gets to serve, and they do it from the left/odd court.
How many people play a pickleball game?
Pickleball can be played with two, four, or even more people. Singles and doubles are both popular formats for the game.