Pickleball is a fun and easy sport to play for people of all ages. The game originated from Bainbridge Island in 1965 when three men—Bill Bell, Joel Pritchard, and Barney McCallum—noticed their children’s boredom during one summer vacation and decided to create a new game. They called it pickleball.
Due to pickleball’s growing trend throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) made major changes to the game’s rules, especially on the trending “spin serve”.
What is a spin serve, and do you need to learn it? In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about this popular move. Read on to learn more.
What Is Spin Serve Pickleball?
A spin serve or pre-spun serve is a type of service in pickleball wherein the player spins the ball using his fingers right before striking it with a paddle. This move is quite aggressive and challenging to counter, earning it the nickname “chainsaw serve”.
The spin serve was recently popularized by player Zane Navratil, who demonstrated his outstanding chainsaw serve in a game in 2022. This move allowed him to reach the top of the Men’s Pro Game, and people have been trying to learn and use the spin serve ever since.
However, despite its popularity, the pre-spun serve was banned in 2023 due to its unpredictable nature, which makes it hard to counter. It may no longer be used in professional pickleball games and tournaments, according to the updated USA Pickleball Rule Book. We’ll talk more about why this happened later on, so keep scrolling.
Two Main Types of Pickleball Serves
There are two legal service motions you can use in pickleball that won’t get you in trouble. These are the volley serve and the drop serve.
This common pickleball serve is done by striking the ball just below the navel, the paddle moving upward. Specifically, one hand releases the ball, and the other hand strikes it with the paddle before the ball reaches the ground.
The second serve is done by simply dropping the ball from a height and letting it bounce once before you hit it with your paddle. This is the opposite of the volley serve, which necessitates striking the ball before it bounces off the ground.
How to Master Pickleball Spin Serve?
Although the pre-spun serve is now banned in both pro and amateur divisions, applying a spin serve when casually playing with friends or relatives is still undoubtedly enjoyable. It’s a challenging move that even pros have trouble mastering.
Want to master the spin serve? Here are some tips to help you!
Master the Basics
If you really want to master the pickleball spin serve, you should first learn proper hand positioning, footwork, and eye coordination. Proper hand and feet position is a huge factor in achieving a perfect serve. You should also keep in mind that in mastering a spin serve, you must have excellent fine motor skills when holding and releasing the ball.
Once you’ve mastered these basics, it will become easier for you to learn the spin serve.
Use a Band-Aid to Keep Your Fingers Safe
Safety should be a top priority when playing any sport, even an easy one like pickleball. Doing a pickleball spin serve, or practicing how to do it, too many times may hurt your fingers due to the constant pressure and friction applied to them every time you spin the ball. In some cases, it may cause irritation. So apply a band-aid or tape to these areas to prevent injury.
Utilize Your Dominant Hand
Using your dominant hand when imparting a spin on the ball can work wonders in achieving a successful spin serve. Not everyone is ambidextrous, and you generally have more strength and control over your dominant hand.
So, if you have a dominant right hand, use it to spin the ball, while you hold the paddle on your left hand. Then, as the ball falls, move your paddle back to your right hand before striking the ball.
Practice Makes Perfect
Mastering the spin serve can be challenging, especially for newbies. It requires excellent fine motor skills and reflexes.
You’ll be spinning the ball using one hand. To do this, hold the ball between your thumb and index finger, and then pinch the ball to release it. The ball should be spinning upon release. If you’re successful at making it spin, strike it with your paddle.
Another technique is to place the ball between your index finger and middle finger, and then pinch the ball by flipping your fingers. You can try using both methods to see which feels more natural to you.
The techniques required to successfully do a pickleball spin serve are quite hard to master, but you can do it with enough practice.
Why Was the Spin Serve Banned?
Just this year, in 2023, it was officially announced that the pickleball spin serve is now banned from professional competitions. The following are possible explanations as to why:
- Safety – The USA Pickleball Committee stated that one of the concerns with the spin serve in pickleball is that players who receive a spin serve may be forced to go outside the court and be at risk of bumping into a fence or wall.
The pickleball court is not as wide as other playing courts. It typically measures about 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, making it a lot smaller than a tennis court. That’s why returning a spin serve is quite hard and risky.
- Level the Playing Field – A lot of pickleball players have a hard time mastering the spin serve, and an even harder time countering it in-game. In fact, there have been a lot of complaints regarding this matter, even from pro players.
Because pickleball courts are smaller than others, player reaction time is less than in other sports. And the unpredictable, competitive nature of the spin serve definitely puts the receiving team at a disadvantage, because they literally have split seconds to decide where the ball is headed and react accordingly.
This goes against the very nature of pickleball, which was created as a fun and casual sport to be enjoyed.
The spin serve is a famous but controversial service motion in pickleball. It is done by spinning the ball using one hand before striking it with the paddle.
Unfortunately, due to its strong and complex nature, the pickleball spin serve was banned from competitive play in 2023. But there’s nothing stopping you from learning it casually at home. Just take care to avoid injuries, and be aware that not everyone will be happy about having the spin serve used against them in a match.