When it comes to pickleball serving, that technique in itself represents its biggest difference among all sports that it resembles. In a manner of speaking, serving in pickleball is, before anything, meant to be respectful.
What does that mean? -The easygoing yet intense nature of pickleball implies that the serve and the serve return must be non-aggressive and lightweight. Of course, none of these words are part of the “how to serve in pickleball guide”, and players can’t break the pickleball rules by playing aggressively right off the bat.
However, the rules themselves are made so that any rushed start would cause the players to lose points faster than intended, and players must thus be patient and careful during the serve and its return.
Serving in pickleball resembles that in tennis at first glance, but when it comes to the final strike of the ball that ends the serve, the difference of pickleball and tennis becomes clearly visible.
Just like tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, pickleball has its own rule about striking the ball for the first time by pickle paddle. In pickleball, the server needs to raise the ball above the racket, which they are holding at knee height. Once the ball is released, the server should hit the ball upwards into the opponent’s opposite half of the court.
The paddle is not allowed to make contact with the ball above the waistline during the serve, and if this occurs, the server is interrupted and they lose their right to serve. As rigid and somewhat difficult as this sounds, this rule is actually meant to help the server, because optimal serve accuracy can be achieved this way.
One foot must be placed behind the baseline, and another in front of it. If the server in any way crosses the baseline or steps on it with either foot, the serve is interrupted. Just like the previous rule, this regulation helps the server, not their opponent. By making you keep your feet in the best serving stance, the rule ensures maximum serve efficiency.
Just like in tennis, the server is supposed to make the ball go from his half of the court to their opponent’s, diagonally. In pickleball, this is slightly harder to achieve due to the seven feet of no-volley space on either side of the court.
One Attempt Only
Except for the rare occurrence of “let”, where the ball scrapes the surface of the net as it hits the opponent’s field, any serving fault will cause the server to lose their right to serve, and this right will automatically go to the following player. In singles, this is the opponent, while in doubles, if the first server makes a fault, the second one on the same side gets to serve.
After the ball has been served, the receiver must wait for the ball to bounce before returning it. Upon having the ball back on their side of the court, the server needs to wait for it to bounce as well. Only after these two bounces have occurred can the ball be volleyed.
Up until recently, the process of learning how to serve in pickleball was unavailable to the public. That is, everyone did whatever they liked best. However, the Pickleball Channel has interviewed some of the best pickleball players in the US, and they’ve revealed their secrets.
High Soft Serve
The high soft serve relates to launching the ball high up in the air and making it land near the baseline of the opponent’s side of the court. This way, the opponent needs to carefully anticipate where the ball will go, and it gives the server just enough time to come up with a relevant play strategy.
The power serve is pretty much self-explanatory. The ball gets launched at an extreme speed on the opponent’s side of the court, which forces the opponent to back up from the baseline and leaves the front side of the court open for low shots.
Soft Angle Serve
Just like the high soft serve, except that this shot is sent over a sharp diagonal and it falls very close to “the kitchen” (the no-volley zone). This shot is quite difficult for the player to catch, but it takes practice in order to master.
A Game of Tactics
Serving in pickleball is, as previously stated, a manner of manipulating the ball around the court, not scoring wild aces (as you would in tennis). Although aces themselves aren’t an infrequent thing in pickleball, the basics of knowing how to serve in pickleball encompass tranquillity and proper use of strategy.