Pickleball is a fun and fast-paced sport that combines elements of ping pong, badminton, and tennis.
One of the most important skills to know is how to do a serve in pickleball. To effectively serve, you must know the rules, understand the different types of serves, practice your technique, and be aware of common mistakes.
Let’s take a look at all the components necessary for an effective pickleball serve.
Pickleball Serving Rules
The rules for serving in pickleball are relatively simple. When it’s your turn to serve, you must stand behind the baseline with both feet on the ground. Then, hit the ball diagonally into your opponent’s court across from you.
Where you stand on the court will depend on your current score. Players with even scores (0, 2, 4, etc) serve from the right, while players with odd scores (1, 3, 5, etc) serve from the left. This means that every time servers earns a point, they switch sides of the court.
It is important to note that pickleball uses a side out type of scoring system. This means only the server can earn points. The server earns a point for every fault their opponent commits. But if the server commits a fault, the rally ends and the next service goes to their opponent.
How Do You Serve in Pickleball
Serving is an essential skill that all pickleball players must master in order to succeed. The serve is the first shot played in pickleball and sets the tone for the remainder of the rally.
To serve, you stand behind the baseline, toss the ball up with one hand, and then hit it diagonally crosscourt into the opponent’s court. A basic pickleball serve involves a paddle hitting a ball beneath a player’s waist. The ball then needs to land within bounds on the opposite side of the net and must not hit any obstructions.
Within bounds means that the ball is “in” the serving court of your opponent. If it lands in the kitchen or outside the serving court’s boundaries, the serve is considered “out” and the server loses the serve.
Mastering proper pickleball serving technique takes practice, but once you’ve got it down, you’ll be well on your way to playing like a pickleball pro!
Types of Pickleball Serves
There are several different types of pickleball serves that you can use, depending on what kind of advantage you’d like to gain against your opponent. The two main types are the volley serve and drop serve.
The volley serve is the most common type of serve where you stand behind the baseline and hit the ball before it bounces. The drop serve is done by dropping the ball from your hand and then hitting it before it bounces twice on the court.
But apart from the two main pickleball serves, there are others you may not have heard of. What other pickleball serves are there and how do you do them?
Soft Angle Pickleball Serve
A soft angle serve in pickleball is a serve that is hit with a soft touch and aimed at the far corner of the opponent’s kitchen. The goal of this serve is to force your opponent to move off the edge of the court, giving the server an opening to hit a winning shot.
Here’s how to hit a soft angle serve:
- Stand behind the baseline.
- Position yourself slightly closer to the sideline on the serving side of the court.
- Hold the paddle with a light grip and toss the ball up about waist-high.
- Make contact with the ball at the highest point of the toss and hit it with a soft, brushing motion.
- Aim for the far corner of your opponent’s kitchen, just inside the line.
You need a lot of control to do this shot. If you hit the ball too hard, it will go out of bounds. If you hit the ball too soft, the opponent will have an easy time returning it. As you can see, the soft angle serve can be very effective, but it can be difficult to master.
Use soft angle serves against opponents who tend to stand too close to the centerline or who have trouble getting to balls quickly. It is also a good serve to use when you are playing doubles and your opponents are stacked.
The Power Serve in Pickleball
Do you hit the gym regularly? This is the best serve to use if you’re strong and want to take advantage of that strength.
A power serve in pickleball is a serve that is hit with a lot of speed and spin. The goal of the pickleball power serve is to achieve maximum speed, spin, and accuracy while increasing the angle of attack off the court.
To hit a power serve:
- Stand behind the baseline with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Hold your paddle with a firm grip.
- Toss the ball up about shoulder-high.
- Make contact with the ball at the highest point of the toss and hit it with a powerful, overhand motion.
- Use your legs and core to generate power and spin.
It is important to hit the power serve with a consistent motion. Too hard and it will go out of bounds. Too soft and the opponent will have an easy time returning it.
The power serve is a great serve to use against opponents who are standing close to the baseline, have trouble returning fast serves. In doubles pickleball, the power serve is best used when your opponents are spread out. This puts your opponent off-balance and forces them to make a mistake.
The Pickleball High Soft Serve
The high soft serve in pickleball is a serve that is hit high into the air and lands deep in the opponent’s court. The goal of the high soft serve is to force the opponent to move back and hit the ball from a difficult position.
If you want to hit a high soft serve, do the following:
- Stand behind the baseline and position yourself slightly closer to the sideline on the serving side of the court.
- Hold the paddle with a light grip and toss the ball up about waist-high.
- Make contact with the ball at the highest point of the toss.
- Hit it with a soft, brushing motion.
- Aim for the back of the opponent’s court, just inside the baseline.
You’ll want to use this serve if your opponent likes to stand close to the net, has trouble returning high balls, or if they’re stacked in pickleball doubles. Remember that your goal in doing this serve is to force your opponent to move back so you can hit a winning shot.
Just keep your head down and your eyes on the ball throughout the swing. Try to hit the ball in the center of the paddle and follow through with your swing after you hit the ball. You can also experiment with different paddle angles and spin techniques to see what works best for you.
Tips For Serving In Pickleball
Here are some tips and tricks that will help you improve and land your pickleball serves consistently:
- If you’re a beginner, aim for accuracy rather than power
- Keep your body balanced when making contact with the ball
- Hold your paddle firmly but not too tightly
- Focus on aiming for specific spots rather than just randomly tossing out shots
- Practice regularly so that your muscles learn how to move correctly
- Stay focused even if things don’t go as planned during matches
It’s okay to make mistakes. What’s important is you learn from them!
How Do You Return A Serve In Pickleball?
A good serve can mess up your momentum and catch you off-guard. So, apart from improving your serves, you should also be ready to return one. After all, if you want to serve and start scoring points, you’ll need to force your opponent to commit a fault!
Returning a serve in pickleball requires quick reflexes and good hand-eye coordination since you only have a split second between when the ball is served and when it needs to be returned! Generally speaking, there are three main techniques for returning serves:
Block Returns in Pickleball
Players use their paddles to block the ball. They rely on the ball’s momentum to carry it back to the other court. If your opponent is strong and likes to use power serves, blocking their serve with your paddle is a great way to counter.
Drop shots are used to reduce the speed of the ball. You basically hit the ball with a soft touch so it goes softly over the net. Your opponent will have to run to the net to be able to catch the ball. If you can, aim for the corners of your opponent’s court. These are the most difficult areas for your opponent to reach and will force them to move quickly and hit a difficult shot.
Lob Returns in Pickleball
A lob return is a shot that is hit high in the air and lands deep in the opponent’s court. It is a good shot to use to counter a fast and powerful serve. But use them wisely. If you hit too many lob returns, your opponent may start to anticipate them and move up to the net to return them easily.
Mastering all of these shots require a lot of time and practice. And I do recommend mastering them since mixing up your returns and keeping your opponent guessing is a great way to win rallies in pickleball!
Common Mistakes People Make When Serving In Pickleball
Common mistakes people make while serving in pickleball include:
- Not getting behind their baseline far enough
- Not watching their opponents closely enough before they serve
- Standing too close or too far away from their paddle during contact with the ball
- Not keeping their eyes open while making contact with the ball
- Letting go of the paddle too early after contact has been made
- Gripping the paddle too tightly during contact with the ball since this results in loss of control over shot direction, speed, spin etc.
- Holding racket incorrectly and doing ineffective strikes at the ball
All these mistakes can easily be avoided by focusing on proper pre-serve positioning and form throughout each point played. And, of course, lots and lots of practice.
Serves are one of the most important aspects of playing pickleball successfully. They set up much of what follows during each point played in a rally.
Knowing how to serve in pickleball can put any player ahead of the game no matter what level they’re playing at! Be aware of the rules and types of serves, practice returning different serves, and be aware of common mistakes people make when serving.
Trust me, these will turn you into a better player. Start practicing those serves!