The Art of Pickleball Serving: Mastering the Basics


Pickleball is an easy-to-learn paddle sport that has gained immense popularity worldwide. Like any game, it comes with its own set of rules, and serving is an essential part of playing the game. To ensure a legal serve and avoid unnecessary faults, there are three basic rules that every player should adhere to. In this article, we will discuss these rules in detail and explore the importance of serving deep in pickleball.

Positioning: The Baseline Boundaries

Every pickleball serve begins with positioning. It is crucial to remember that you cannot touch the baseline, which is the back line of the court parallel to the net. The baseline separates the court from the out-of-bounds area. Violating this rule results in a foot fault and a dead ball. It is important to keep both feet behind and not touch the baseline in any way during the serve. Additionally, there are a couple of miscellaneous rules related to positioning, such as not crossing the imaginary intersection of the centerline or sideline and keeping at least one foot on the ground behind the baseline.

Arm Motion: The Volley Serve and Drop Serve

In pickleball, there are two types of legal serves: the volley serve and the drop serve. The volley serve is the traditional form of serving and involves using one hand to release the ball while the other hand, holding the paddle, makes contact with it in the air before it falls to the ground. The key rules for a legal volley serve are serving underhand, ensuring that the ball and paddle do not make contact above the waist, moving the server’s arm in an upward arc, and keeping the highest point of the paddle head below the highest part of the wrist.

On the other hand, the drop serve, which became a legal means of serving in 2021, requires either the non-paddle hand or the paddle to raise the ball to any natural height. Without applying any force or spin, the ball is dropped by gravity alone, and it must bounce at least once before it can be hit. Unlike the volley serve, the drop serve does not have specific rules regarding the contact point above the waist, arm motion, or paddle head position relative to the wrist.

Placement: The Diagonal Opposite Service Court

To make a legal serve in pickleball, the ball must be served into the quadrant diagonal from the server and must never land in the non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen. The non-volley zone is a rectangular area that extends 7 feet on each side of the net, including the line.

Serving deep, meaning sending the ball as far back as possible while still keeping it in the service court, is a strategic move in pickleball. It pushes the receiving player behind the baseline, providing ample space for a third shot drop—a soft shot that drops the ball right into the non-volley zone. By serving deep, players can gain an advantage, forcing their opponents to cover more ground to return the third shot.


Mastering the art of pickleball serving requires a firm grasp of the basic rules and an understanding of strategic gameplay. Positioning yourself correctly, following the proper arm motion for volley or drop serves, and serving with precision and control in the diagonally opposite service court are the keys to a successful serve. By serving deep, players can strategically set themselves up for advantageous shots and keep their opponents on their toes. With these guidelines in mind, players can elevate their serving skills and excel in the game of pickleball.

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