The Art of Pickleball Serving: Tips, Techniques, and Rules


Pickleball, the addictive combination of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, has taken the nation by storm. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran, understanding the rules of serving in pickleball is essential. This article provides a comprehensive guide to serving rules, techniques, and tips to enhance your pickleball game.

Mastering the Rules

To fully embrace the pickleball experience and compete in tournaments, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest rule changes. However, don’t fear! By familiarizing yourself with this article, you’ll develop a firm grasp of pickleball serving rules in no time.

The 6 Key Serving Rules

In pickleball, every point begins with a serve, and you can only score when it’s your turn to serve. To perform a legal serve, you must follow these six simple rules:

1. Underhand or Backhand Motion: The serve must be made with an underhand or backhand motion, moving the server’s arm in an upward arc.

2. Contact Point: The paddle must make contact with the ball below your waist, ensuring an upward arc motion.

3. Paddle Position: The paddle head must be below the highest part of your wrist at contact, with the entire paddle below your hand.

4. Diagonal Service Area: The serve must land in the diagonally opposite service area, similar to tennis.

5. Correct Feet Placement: At least one foot must be touching the playing surface behind the baseline, within the imaginary extension of the sideline and centerline.

6. One Serve Attempt: Unlike tennis, only one serve attempt is allowed. If you fault on your serve, the serve goes to your partner or the opposing team in a side out.

Pickleball Volley Serve vs. Drop Serve

There are two legal types of serves in pickleball: the traditional volley serve and the drop serve. The drop serve, introduced in 2022, is easier for beginners and allows for more flexibility in serving techniques. However, professional players still prefer the traditional volley serve for its speed and power.

Pros and Cons of Each Serve

While the drop serve provides an advantage for beginners and intermediate players, professionals tend to prioritize the power and control of a volley serve. The drop serve is ideal for practicing new techniques and adding spin to your serve, while the volley serve offers a wider range of shot options.

The Pickleball Serving Sequence

Before serving, it’s essential to call the score and position yourself correctly. The serving sequence follows a specific order:

1. Call the Score: As the server, it’s your responsibility to call the score loudly, indicating readiness to serve.

2. First Server: The player on the right side of the court serves first in the game or after a side out in doubles. In singles, the service side depends on the score.

3. Advantage of Being the First Server: Being the first server gives you the opportunity to score first, but it also means that a side out will be called if you fault.

4. Scoring System: Points are scored using a three-number system: the serving team’s score, the opponent’s score, and either 1 or 2 to indicate the first or second server after a side out.

Pickleball Serving Faults

Pickleball serving rules are outlined in the official rulebook, and any violation leads to a fault. Common service faults include foot faults, illegal serving motion, serving out of bounds, and serving before the opponent is ready.

Pickleball Receiving Faults

Like serving, receiving also has its faults. Receiving faults include hitting the return before the ball bounces, the wrong receiver hitting the ball, and requesting timeout or score correction after the server has started their motion.

Pickleball Serve Positioning

In doubles, each player has a specific position for the serve:

1. The Server: The server must be behind the baseline and within the limits of the centerline and sideline. Most players stand a few inches back from the baseline to avoid foot faults.

2. The Server’s Partner: The non-serving partner can stand anywhere but should position themselves behind the baseline and allow the ball to bounce before striking it.

3. The Receiver: The receiver usually stands one or two feet behind the baseline in a central position to maximize their ability to return the serve.

4. The Receiver’s Partner: The non-receiver typically positions themselves at the kitchen line, ready to smash back the second shot from the serving team.

Top 5 Pickleball Serving and Receiving Tips

To enhance your pickleball game, consider the following tips:

1. Watch the Ball: Keep your eyes on the ball until you make a good connection, avoiding distractions.

2. Mix up Your Serves: Vary your serve technique, including powerful deep serves, lobs, shorter serves with backspin, and occasional drop serves.

3. Aim for Consistency: As a beginner, focus on consistent, legal serves rather than trying to ace every shot.

4. Keep Opponents Back: Aim for deep serves to keep your opponents away from the kitchen line, maximizing your advantage.

5. Vary Your Targets: Experiment serving to different locations, such as your opponent’s backhand side or specific areas of the court, as you become more comfortable.

Pickleball Doubles Serving Format

In doubles, the team who selects to serve first in the game has only one player serve before the first fault. After that, both players on each team take turns serving between side outs. The starting server of the game and after each side out will always be the player on the right.

Winning the Game

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