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Mastering the Basics of the Serve in Pickleball: A Guide to Pickleball Serving Rules

Pickleball has taken the sports world by storm, and mastering the basics of serving is key to taking your game to the next level.

The serve can be a make-or-break element in any match – one seemingly small mistake could spell disaster for an entire game.

This guide offers comprehensive instruction on how players of all levels can master every aspect of their serves and ensure they are always at their best when stepping up to the service line!

From proper stance and grip technique to finding the perfect balance between power and accuracy, this guide provides everything you need to know about dominating your opponents with each and every serve.

Learning how to server properly will allow you to become a better pickleball player.
Learning to serve properly will allow you to become a better pickleball player.

A Quick Guide To What Pickleball Is And How To Play

Pickleball is a paddle sport that two or four players can enjoy. It requires paddles, balls, a net and a court to play.

To win the game, one team must reach 11 points with at least 2 more than their opponents. Points are only scored when the serving team volleys the ball correctly or if it goes out of bounds or into the net.

A serve rule in pickleball states that the ball must bounce twice before being hit back after the serve.

Knowing and understanding these rules plays an important role in playing pickleball successfully. Furthermore, mastering the basics of serving in pickleball will give you an advantage over your opponent, as serves can often prove difficult for them to return accurately due to their speed and spin.

Therefore, having confidence and practice in this area is essential for any competitive player looking to advance their skill set in this popular sport.

The Basics Of Serving

As you become more familiar with the basics of pickleball, it’s time to move on to learning how to serve. The serve is an important part of any game; mastering the art will give you a distinct advantage.

When serving in pickleball, there are two main types: drop serves, and volley serves. The former involves dropping the ball in your hand before hitting it over the net, while the latter requires players to hit the ball without bouncing it first.

No matter what type of serve you choose, one thing remains true – it must be performed using an underhand stroke where contact with the ball is made below waist level. In other words, when swinging at the ball during a serve, ensure your paddle head does not travel above your wrist joint, as this would be considered illegal.

Additionally, remember to place deep and toward center court so that opponents have difficulty returning shots. Lastly, remain behind baseline until after the third shot has been played out – don’t continue into the court!

Following these tips should help you master serving in no time.

The Pickleball Serve Rules and How to Serve in Pickleball

Developing the correct serve technique to hit a legal pickleball serve is important. The traditional pickleball volley serve and drop serve must both be made underhand, paddle contact with the ball must be below the server’s waist (navel level), and the serve must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court.

To ensure your success when serving, here are some key points:

  1. Serve should always be initiated with at least one foot behind the baseline; neither foot may contact the baseline or court until after the ball is struck.
  2. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart for balance and stability during your service motion.
  3. Use an abbreviated backswing and follow through with a full arm extension on each shot for maximum power and accuracy.
  4. Focus on hitting a deep corner as much as possible when executing either a volley or drop serve – this will make it more difficult for your opponent to return your serve successfully.
  5. Your arm should move in an upward arc, hitting the ball around waist height. Hit the serve hard enough to go over the net but in play.
  6. The ball has to land above the kitchen line and in bounds from the back side and middle. Aim for that square diagonally across where the opposing pickleball player is standing.
  7. You can also use the pickleball drop serve (where you let the ball bounce before serving it), which is good for beginners, or try a spin serve, which is more for experts.

With proper practice and dedication, you can become proficient in performing all types of serves while ensuring they are legal according to Pickleball rules. Make sure to practice consistently to confidently execute any type of pickleball serve whenever needed!

You need to serve into the diagonally opposite court from where you are serving from. (Source)

Pickleball Serving Sequence

According to USA Pickleball Association, here is how the pickleball serving sequence goes.

  1. Serving the ball in pickleball is like taking a journey. It begins with your feet positioned on either side of the center line and your paddle held near waist level, ready to hit the ball.
  2. The next step is for you to move forward and take aim at the opponent’s court as you prepare to deliver a legal serve that will travel in an upward arc across the net and into their territory. Your goal is simple: get it past them so they can’t return it!
  3. Once both players are ready, one player must serve first. This player moves their feet toward the back of the court while keeping their paddle low, then takes two steps forward before launching the ball up with a powerful swing.
  4. As soon as contact is made, they must clear out of the way quickly so that their partner has enough time to move in and make a return shot if necessary.
  5. From here, all four players should be situated according to where they were when service began – on opposite sides of each other inside of the pickleball court boundaries.
Check out how to do a proper underhand serve.

Other Rules

Understanding pickleball rules, including the scoring system and the double-bounce rule, is important to effectively serve the ball. Familiarizing yourself with these rules will help you to become a better pickleball server.


In pickleball, scoring is key to winning the game.

The serving team scores points for each successful serve and can win a match by getting 11 points with a two-point lead.

To ensure that teams are able to score, players must understand the double bounce rule and non-volley zone boundaries in order to be effective when executing drop serves or volleys.

Volleying within 7 feet of either side of the net is prohibited; however, any ball contacting any line except the non-volley zone line on a serve will count as “in” and allow teams to both serve and score.

A good serve and learning the rules will make you enjoy the game more,
A good serve and learning the rules will make you enjoy the game more,

Double-Bounce Rule

When it comes to pickleball serve rules, the double-bounce rule is an important one.

This rule states that when the ball is served, both teams must let it bounce once before returning.

After this has occurred, then both teams are allowed to volley or play off a bounce (ground stroke).

The purpose of this rule is to extend rallies and eliminate any advantage gained from serving and volleying.

It also prevents players from executing smashes while in the non-volley zone which is within 7 feet on either side of the net.

By understanding and following these rules, players can successfully score points for their team by being effective with drop serves as well as volleys.


It is important to understand the rules surrounding faults when serving in pickleball. A fault by either team results in a loss of serve or side out.

Faults can occur if the ball does not bounce on both sides of the court, is hit into the net during service or any return, volleys before bouncing, hits an illegal surface such as a player’s clothing or paddle, goes out-of-bounds, or violates a service rule.

If a server commits more than one fault while attempting to drop the ball for their serve (as per rule change), they will lose that point and have to start again with another attempt at serving.

When playing pickleball all players must be aware of these rules and use them to ensure fair play and prevent unnecessary interruptions due to fouls.

Players must be cautious during each rally so that no violations occur, which could result in an illegal serve or other violation resulting in a fault call from the referee.

This knowledge should ensure that everyone enjoys playing pickleball without disruption due to faulty serves or penalty calls against them.

The more you know the rules of pickleball, the more fun you'll have playing.
The more you know the rules of pickleball, the more fun you’ll have playing.

‘Lets’ In Pickleball

A “let” is when the point must be replayed because of unforeseen circumstances. When a let is called, the same person who served last serves again, and the point is replayed.

Reasons for lets in pickleball:

  • A “let” can be called if the serve touches the net and lands in the proper service court, also known as a “let serve.” In this case, the serve is replayed without penalty.
  • A “let” can also be called if the ball hits any part of the non-volley zone line, including the sideline and baseline, before landing in the proper court. This is called a “non-volley zone let” and the ball is replayed without penalty.
  • If a player is distracted by an outside influence, such as a ball from another court, a “let” can be called, and the point is replayed.
  • A “let” can also be called if the ball breaks during play or if the ball becomes out of shape or deformed.
  • If the ball hits the ceiling, overhead obstruction, or any other object on the court during play, a “let” may be called, depending on the circumstances.

In general, a “let” is called when there is a hindrance or interruption to normal play, and the point is replayed without penalty.

Determining The First Serve

The first server is an important role in the game of pickleball. Here are some key points to consider when determining who will serve first:

  • The winner of the coin toss has the option to choose a side, serve or receive.
  • The standard way to start a game is with a ‘serve and drop,’ where both players move back until one player hits an underhand serve that must land within 3 feet of the non-volley line on the opposite side of the court.
  • If it lands outside those designated spots, it’s not considered a valid serve, and no point can be scored.
  • A successful underhand serve must travel diagonally across the net into their opponent’s service zone without touching the net – otherwise, it’s out.
  • Whichever player successfully performs this task is awarded an immediate point and becomes the first server for subsequent serves throughout the play.


The serve is one of the most important aspects of pickleball. It sets the tone for each point and can differentiate between winning or losing a match. Mastering the basics of serving will lead to improved results on the court and provide players with an edge over their opponents.

By understanding how to execute a correct serve, following proper rules, and recognizing potential faults, players can gain confidence in their game that will carry them through competitive matches.

Serving correctly requires practice and repetition. Players should develop good footwork, hand-eye coordination, spin control, power, accuracy, and consistency when practicing serves. With consistent practice and dedication to mastering these skills, any player can become proficient at executing a successful serve.

Additionally, players must understand which shots are legal within the sport’s regulations to avoid penalties or faults while playing.

By following this guide to mastering pickleball serving techniques, players will better grasp how to properly play the game. As knowledge increases about different types of serves and rules related to serving, those who take the time to learn will reap the rewards from improved performance on the court.

Pickleball is an enjoyable activity where perfecting your skillset can make all the difference in competition. Get out there and hit the perfect serve!

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