As a beginner, mastering the pickleball serve is one of the most important parts of learning the game. The value of having a strong serve truly can't be understated. After all, a strong serve can set you up for the win, while a weaker one may make it difficult for you to score. In this post, we'll review the rules for the pickleball serve, provide tips on improving your serve and give you advice on which of the legal pickleball serve options to choose.
How to Serve in Pickleball: The Fundamentals
No matter which serve you choose, there are some fundamentals that you need to know before you hit the court. Let's start with some basic pickleball serving rules and information:
- Serving is meant to put the ball in play rather than to score a point.
- Pickleball serve rules require that you serve underhanded.
- Your serve must be below your waist, which the pickleball serve rules for 2022 define as the area below your navel.
- Your paddle face must be below your wrist when you make contact with the ball.
- Rules do allow you to drop the ball from any height and then hit it after it bounces. However, you can't throw or toss it before hitting.
- The first side to serve only gets one serve under the pickleball serving rules for doubles.
- After the first serve, pickleball serve rules for doubles give each side the chance to serve twice with each partner serving once before control of the serve switches sides.
- You must stay behind the baseline until after the third shot is hit.
Some tips to make your serve successful include:
- Aim for the right spot: Try to serve diagonally to the opposite service court. Focus on getting the ball deep and in the center of the court.
- Don't stop after you make contact: Follow through is key for a quality serve. Let your paddle move naturally to guide you into position to receive the service return.
- Stay relaxed: Even though it can be difficult when the pressure is on, try to keep your body as loose as possible throughout your serve. Start moving from your shoulder and let your body fluidly continue the movement from there.
- Engage your whole body: Use your legs and core to drive your movement and increase the power of your serve.
- Choose a method and stick to it: Mastering a serve takes practice, and the aim of those sessions is building muscle memory. To be successful, you need to stick to a consistent routine. Decide whether you want to lift or drop the ball, and pick one serving style to employ. Once you've mastered one serve and are consistently using it well in the game, you can learn a second and then a third and so on. Eventually, you'll likely progress to the point that you can change up your serve style throughout the game, but in the beginning, keep things simple by focusing on one at a time.
Styles of Pickleball Serves
There isn't just one method for serving in pickleball. You can choose from a variety of styles, including:
- Drop serve: The player hits the ball after it bounces once, increasing spin and changing up the timing.
- Lob serve: The pickleball has a high trajectory and more bounce.
- Top spin serve: The pickleball dives down into the court and then bounces high.
- Hook serve: The serve increases spin, causing it to curve to the left for a right-handed player or to the right for a left-handed player.
- Inside out serve: The opposite of a hook serve, the spin takes the ball to the right for a right-handed player and to the left for a left-handed player.
- Power serve: The pickleball moves faster because the serving player twists at the waist while hitting the ball.
- Angle serve: This advanced serve builds on the power serve but directs the ball just to the edge of the kitchen, making it difficult to return.
If you've heard of the chainsaw serve in pickleball, you may wonder why it's not on the list. Pro player Zane Navratil popularized this serve that leverages the paddle to increase the spin on the ball, but USA Pickleball banned the serve in the 2022 rule book.
What Pickleball Serve Is Right for Me?
There is no single best pickleball serve for all players. Which one is right for you will depend on your personal preferences. Some people find one serve more comfortable than another or naturally take to one more quickly. If a basic serve works best for you, there's no reason to dabble in other serves. You're better off being able to consistently serve well than to risk underperforming with more difficult serving techniques that are unfamiliar to you.
Successful Serves Start Off the Court
No matter what style of serve you choose, there's a mental component to playing pickleball. Even a skilled player may deliver underwhelming serves if they feel distracted during the game. As a result, what you wear to play matters. Because we understand this, Devereux goes to great lengths to design pickleball gear that serves up comfort.
Our pickleball tees are made from midweight combed cotton that is highly breathable to keep you cool and that grows softer with every wash. The relaxed oversized cut increases your mobility, so you can follow through on your serves with ease. In addition, our pickleball collection includes mesh-backed trucker hats to keep the sun out of your eyes and your body temperature regulated. Shop the collection now and get ready for the game.