How To Serve In Pickleball

Pickleball is a sport that combines elements from tennis and ping pong. It was originally developed in Australia and has become an increasingly popular game over the past couple of decades.

The sport is played with two paddles and a ball and can be played both indoors or outdoors on a court. Pickleball is great for beginners because it doesn’t require any special equipment – not even a net!

If you want to learn how to play pickleball, serving is particularly important due to the fact that you can only score on your own serve. In other words, if you can’t serve, you won’t be able to score.

With this in mind, our guide will take an in-depth look at how to serve in pickleball, including everything you need to know about the basic rules, as well as the most effective types of serve to use.

We’ll also look to answer a couple of the frequently asked questions related to the sport.

Basic Rules

All players have to serve from behind the baseline and stand on either the left or right side of the center line.

Before serving, you need to call the score out, and then strike the ball into the service area that’s diagonally across the court. It’s also imperative that all serves are underhand and served below the waist.

The ball isn’t allowed to touch the line at the front of the service area or land in the non-volley zone. However, all the other lines are considered.

If the server scores, they continue to serve. Both players are also required to switch sides after each serve.

Singles Vs. Doubles Rules

When playing singles, each player serves until they lose a point. As touched upon above, you also need to switch the side you’re serving from after each serve.

If the score is even, you should serve from the right side of the court, whereas if the score is odd, you should serve from the left side. When calling out the score before a serve, make sure you say your score before your opponent’s score.

When it comes to doubles, each player on a team gets a chance to serve before the serve switches back to an opponent. Just keep in mind that at the start of the game, the second server for the first team is skipped.

Following each sideout, the serve is always meant to start from the right side.

The serve then alternates sides after each serve. It’s worth noting that many of the rules and positions can be difficult to learn in doubles, therefore it’s a good idea to play with an experienced player who can teach you.

What Is A ‘Let’?

A ‘let’ occurs when a rally needs to be replayed for any reason. This can sometimes be for something unusual like your pet interfering with play, but a ‘let’ is mainly called during service.

A service let occurs when the ball strikes the net on a serve but still lands in the correct service area. This is usually when the ball glances the top of the net, much like in tennis or table tennis.

When a service ‘let’ is called by a player or referee, the server can repeat their serve without any penalty. It’s worth noting that there’s no limit on the number of consecutive lets that can be called.

If, however, the ball touches the net on a serve and doesn’t go over the net, this is considered a fault.

Similarly, if the ball hits the net on a serve and lands in the “kitchen” or outside the correct service area, this is also seen as a fault.

The Two-Bounce Rule

There are a number of unique rules in pickleball that are designed to keep the game as fair and balanced as possible. One of these is the two-bounce rule, which states that both the serve and return must be groundstrokes.

In other words, your serve must bounce before your opponent can return it, but then you’ll also need to let your opponent’s return bounce before playing your next shot.

After the serve and first return, both players are then allowed to volley the ball (strike the ball before it touches the ground).

How To Serve

Learning how to serve effectively in pickleball is one of the first things you should look to perfect before entering into competition. With this in mind, listed below is a simple step-by-step guide to follow.


First of all, you need to make sure that you get yourself into the right position. As discussed above, this all depends on whether you’re playing singles or doubles, as well as the score of the match.

Once you’re in the right position, call the score out. Make sure you say your score first, however, if you’re playing doubles, you’ll also need to say the serve number.

Serving Technique

Decide how you want to serve the ball (we’ll look at some options later) and exactly where you’re looking to aim. Then, compose yourself and take a deep breath – this massively helps to develop a good service routine.

With the ball positioned in your opposite hand, reach out in front of you and drop the ball. Make sure you don’t throw the ball up, as this will make it more difficult to execute an effective serve.

The moment you drop the ball, swing your paddle underhand and make contact with the ball. The contact point for a serve should be in front of your body, so practice perfecting this.

Follow Through

Once you’ve made contact with the ball, it’s essential that your swing has a smooth and relaxed follow through. This ensures that you’re ready for your opponent’s return.

Main Types Of Serve

Main Types Of Serve

After gaining experience in the sport, it’s only natural to look for ways in which to improve your game. Considering you can only score on your serve, what better place to start than refining your opening shot?

There are three main types of serve in pickleball, with each providing its own set of advantages. Being confident enough to use all three serves is a great way to improve your game and keep your opponent guessing.

Power Serve

The power serve can be played into the forehand, backhand, or straight at your opponent. When executed correctly, it’s low, fast, and lands deep into the court of your opponent, making it incredibly difficult to return.

Learning the power serve is essential if you want to improve your game, as it’s a great way to force your opponent into a mistake. For example, if they have a particularly weak backhand, you can target this side with a power serve.

The power serve is an advanced technique that requires a fair amount of practice.

However, when used in combination with other serves like the high soft serve it can be incredibly decisive, so it’s definitely worth the hard hours on the training court.

High Soft Serve

The high soft serve is when you hit a high arc serve deep into the court of your opponent. This serve has plenty of variety, so it’s great for keeping an opponent on their toes and changing the pace of a game.

While it might be tempting at times to hit the ball as hard as you can, pickleball is a game of finesse. Therefore, the high soft serve can be an effective change-up to draw your opponent out of position and keep them guessing.

Soft Angle Serve

The final serve we’ll look to explain is the soft angle serve. This serve is meant to land near the kitchen line and the sideline, with the bounce taking the ball outside the court.

The soft angle serve is the hardest one of the three to execute, considering the target that you’re aiming for is so small. However, the reward for playing the shot makes it such a valuable serve to use if you’re looking to mix up the rhythm of a game.

The best thing about using the soft angle serve is the fact that it immediately puts your opponent out of position. This leaves you with a simple shot down the opposite lane or a straightforward lob over their head.

Just be mindful that the soft angle serve is the most difficult one to perfect. Remember, you can’t score if you don’t successfully land the serve in the service area.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can You Serve An Ace In Pickleball?

The ball used in pickleball is light and hollow, so when it’s struck hard, it can slow down quite a lot because of wind resistance. This, in addition to the underhand serve rule, makes it pretty difficult to serve an ace.

The best chance you have of serving an ace is to hit a few short serves first.

This can draw your opponent forward, allowing you to hit a power serve right at their feet. Returning a serve like this is near-on impossible unless your opponent is blessed with high speed and quick reactions.

Is Pickleball A Good Workout?

Yes, pickleball provides you with a good, full-body aerobic workout without placing too much stress and strain on your muscles and joints.

Moreover, the endorphins and other bioamines that are released when playing the sport are great when it comes to combating depression and elevating self-esteem.

Some other impressive health benefits of pickleball include improved blood pressure, cardiorespiratory fitness, and weight loss, as well as the ability to make strong social connections with new people.

The Bottom Line

To conclude, learning how to serve effectively in pickleball is essential when it comes to scoring points. Therefore, making sure you’re using the right technique and following all the basic rules is incredibly important.

Hopefully, with the information we’ve provided in this guide, you’ll be in a much stronger position to perfect your serve!


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