The Art of The Pickleball Serve: A Guide to Mastering the Game

The Game Begins: Understanding The Score in Pickleball

Pickleball, a rapidly growing sport, has its own unique scoring system. Unlike many other sports, pickleball uses three numbers to call out the score. The first number represents the serving team’s score, the second number represents the opponent’s score, and the third number represents the number of serves the team is on. This ensures accuracy in keeping track of the game’s progress.

The Importance of the Serve in Pickleball

Before the game can truly begin, it is crucial to understand the significance of the serve. The serve sets the tone for the entire game and can greatly impact the level of play. To become the king or queen of your court, it is essential to master the art of the pickleball serve.

Unveiling the Pickleball Serve Rules

To maximize your chances of scoring points, it is important to familiarize yourself with the rules of the pickleball serve. The serve must be executed with an underhand stroke, making contact with the ball below the waist (navel). The highest point of the pickleball paddle head should be below the wrist during contact with the ball. Additionally, the serve must be directed towards the diagonally opposite service court, landing past the kitchen line in the opposing team’s diagonal service area.

Mastering the Serve Technique

Perfecting the pickleball serve can be challenging, but with practice and the right technique, anyone can improve their serve. Here are some key pointers to enhance your serve:

Serve Set Up:

To generate power in your serve, start by positioning yourself slightly behind the baseline. Take a step back with the foot on the same side as your dominant paddle hand. Ensure your shoulders are aimed towards your serving target. Alternatively, you can take multiple steps back, creating a few feet of distance between yourself and the baseline while keeping your shoulders and feet squared towards your target.

Before Serve Contact:

As you prepare for serve contact, focus on your service target and step forward with the foot that is at the back of your stance (matching your dominant paddle hand). Keep your paddle in sync with your lower body by matching your step forward with your paddle position. Extend your opposite hand holding the ball in front of your body at belt level. Maintain squared shoulders towards your target and step forward with your non-dominant foot while bringing your paddle forward towards the ball.

At Serve Contact:

During serve contact, it is essential to keep your hand and wrist relaxed, allowing for a free-flowing motion of the paddle. Make contact with the ball below your naval and in front of you, striving to connect the paddle with the ball before it leaves your non-dominant hand. Imagine the motion of bowling, with your paddle below your naval, and aim to make consistent contact with the pickleball while it is still in your hand.

Through Serve Contact:

Follow-through is key in achieving a successful serve. Drive the ball towards your serve target and ensure you finish the paddle swing above your shoulders, pointed at your target. This technique allows you to be in a prepared position, with your feet squared towards your opponent and a few inches behind the baseline, ready for the return service. Similar to bowling, a strong and focused follow-through is essential.

After Serve Contact:

A common mistake made by beginners in pickleball is rushing towards the kitchen (non-volley zone line) after launching their serve. However, it is crucial to stay back and not cross the baseline. The return of service must bounce once on the serving side of the court before the real play begins. By staying behind the line, you allow yourself room to react to the opponent’s return. Wait until you see the flight of your opponent’s return before deciding whether to cross the baseline.

Tips to Enhance Your Serve

To add power and effectiveness to your serve, consider incorporating the following techniques:

– Toss the ball and meet it out in front of your body.
– Engage and fire your hips inward as you strike the ball.
– Take a step into your serve to generate more power.
– Follow through with your stroke, finishing with your chest squared up and facing the net/opponent.

The Evolution of the Pickleball Serve

In recent years, the game of pickleball has evolved significantly, with players utilizing the serve as an offensive weapon. While spinning the ball excessively with the paddle or hand is no longer allowed, there are still techniques that can enhance the pickleball serve. By incorporating these techniques, players can revolutionize their serves and elevate their gameplay.


As pickleball continues to gain popularity, mastering the art of the serve is becoming increasingly important. By understanding the rules and implementing the correct technique, players can greatly improve their serve and consequently elevate their overall gameplay. With dedication, practice, and a focus on continuous improvement, anyone can become a formidable force in the world of pickleball.

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