7 Tips On How To Serve Pickleball And Dominate The Court

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How To Serve Pickleball
How To Serve Pickleball

Our focus today will be on an often underestimated but crucial part of the game – how to serve pickleball. And this year, we will be tackling the latest updates to the serve rules.

“Service with a smile” isn’t just for the restaurant industry. It’s a mantra for pickleball players too! Our main course for the day? It’s all about serving. This post will reveal the secrets of effective pickleball serving to improve your game and increase your fun.

This sport demands agility, quick thinking, and the right techniques. Among the techniques, serving is your first offensive step, and it’s time we get it right!

#1 The Purpose of the Serve acts as the game initiator

The serve sets the tone for the rally in pickleball. Unlike in other sports like tennis, where power serves can secure aces, the aim in pickleball is different. Instead, the serve is meant to initiate a rally rather than end it prematurely.

The strategy is not about power but consistency. Aiming for a serve that lands deep within the service box will increase the chances of starting a successful rally. A deep serve forces the opponent to move back, giving you time to prepare for the next shot. Rather than focusing on the power of your serve, pay attention to its depth and accuracy. Keep it consistent and aim for the back third of the court to start a rally on your terms.

#2 The Art of the Underhand Stroke

In pickleball, the serve is carried out using an underhand stroke. This requires the paddle to make contact with the ball below the server’s waist. Therefore, mastering the underhand stroke is key to an effective serve. The underhand serve is not about power; it’s about control and placement. Your goal is to deliver a serve that sets you up for a favorable rally. Start your swing low, and as you make contact with the ball, your paddle should be moving upward in a “lifting” motion. This will give the ball loft and help it clear the net. Ensure your swing is smooth, controlled, and aimed at generating enough momentum to carry the ball over the net and into your opponent’s court. Practice your swing often to find the sweet spot that provides both control and the necessary force.

#3 The Option to Drop and Hit the Ball

In pickleball, servers have the option to drop and hit the ball. This rule differs from other racket sports where the ball is usually tossed up before hitting. In pickleball, the ball should be let go — or dropped — from the serving hand, and then struck with the paddle. During this process, it’s important to remember to keep your drop gentle. This drop serves a straightforward purpose: to set up for the hit without adding any spin or force to the ball. It’s the hit that should drive the ball, not the drop. Practice this motion repeatedly to become comfortable with the timing between the drop and the hit.

#4 Serving From Behind The Baseline

Where you serve from in pickleball is crucial. The serve must be made from behind the baseline. Stepping on or over the baseline before the ball has left your paddle is a fault, resulting in the loss of serve. The baseline can feel like a tightrope at times, but with regular practice, you’ll get the hang of it. It’s all about balance and awareness. Practice your serve while being mindful of your foot positioning. The goal is to maintain a consistent and comfortable position behind the baseline without sacrificing power or control over the serve.

#5 Perfecting the Placement

Finally, the fifth golden tip is all about placement. Where your serve lands can dramatically affect the outcome of the rally. Remember, in pickleball, a well-placed serve is often more effective than a powerful one. Aim deep into your opponent’s court and try to keep the ball low. This will limit your opponent’s shot options and can add pressure on them. If you can master a serve that lands deep and stays low, you can gain the upper hand in the subsequent rally. Mixing up your placement – sometimes aiming to the backhand, other times to the forehand – can also keep your opponent guessing and give you an edge in the game.

#6 The Importance of Follow-through and Being Ready

In pickleball, the action doesn’t stop at the serve; it’s just the beginning. After executing your serve, it’s crucial to have a good follow-through and prepare for the next shot. The follow-through is a part of the serving motion that ensures the ball goes where you want it to. It involves a continued upward and outward swing of the paddle even after the ball has left it, helping to direct the ball. More than that, a proper follow-through sets your body and paddle in an optimal position to return the next shot.

Being ready for the return of serve is equally crucial. After serving, quickly move to the center of your side of the court (the ‘sweet spot’) and assume a ready position. Anticipating where your opponent may place their return will help you respond quicker.

#7 Staying Behind The Baseline

Staying behind the baseline after the serve is a critical aspect of pickleball serving strategy. In pickleball, the serving team must let the return of serve bounce once before hitting it (the ‘two-bounce rule’). Because of this rule, rushing to the net right after the serve is not advisable. Instead, serve from behind the baseline and stay there until after the third shot is hit. By doing this, you provide yourself a little more time to react to your opponent’s return of serve.

After the third shot, you can gradually make your way to the net, gaining a more aggressive position on the court. Patience is crucial in pickleball, especially when it comes to serving and strategizing your plays. A rushed approach can result in faults or missed opportunities, while a patient and thoughtful approach can set you up for success.

2023 How To Serve Pickleball Serve Rule Updates

We mentioned that pickleball is always evolving, and this year (2023) the sport is bringing in some long-awaited changes to the official rules. Here are the six changes in 2023 that will affect pickleball serves:

H3: Rule 4.A.5 – Spinning the Ball on a Serve is no Longer Allowed This rule prevents the addition of spin to the ball during the serve. It specifically targets the “chainsaw” serve where players have been able to create enormous spin by manipulating the ball drop. The rule ensures fair play and serves consistency.

H3: Rule 4.A.6.a – The Server Must Hit the Ball After it Bounces This rule clarifies the conditions for a drop serve. It states that the ball can bounce anywhere on the playing surface and as many times as the server wishes before it is hit.

H3: Rule 4.A.5 – The Release of the Ball Must be Visible to the Receiver and Referee The chainsaw serve rule update also includes a provision that the ball release during a volley serve must be visible to the opponent and the referee (if one is present). This rule is another step towards transparency in the game.

H3: Rule 4.B.8 – Before the Serve Occurs, Any Player may Ask the Referee for the Score, Correct Server or Receiver, Correct Player Position, and may Challenge/Confirm the Called Score This rule update allows a player to challenge or confirm the score, the server, the receiver, or player positions before the serve. This new rule will increase fairness in the game and minimize disputes.

H3: Rule 4.K – Wrong Score Called If the wrong score is called, the rally should continue until its end. Only then, a correction is made before the next serve. If a player stops the game after the serve due to an incorrect score call, it is deemed a fault.

H3: Rule 7.J – After The Serve, A Ball Contacting Any Permanent Object Before Bouncing On The Court In cases where a server accidentally drops the ball and it contacts a permanent object before bouncing on the court, there is no fault and the server can continue to serve, as long as it’s within the ten-second limit. For all the official rules you can check out the USA Pickleball site!

Bottom Line

Learning how to serve effectively in pickleball can be a game-changer. With these tips up your sporty sleeve, your serve can turn from a mere formality into a strategically powerful move. Keep practicing, have fun, and remember, it’s not about who gets the most pickles at the end!

Now it’s your turn to serve up some action on the court! Try these tips during your next game and let us know how it went in the comments below.

And remember, every pickleball player has a chance to turn into a mighty Pickle King or Queen. So, serve it right, play it tight, and keep the spirit light! Until next time, keep pickling!

P.S. If you want to perfect your pickleball game even more, check out our other articles about the strategies of playing this fabulous sport. Happy Pickling!

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