Can Either Player Return Serve in Pickleball?

Alex Jones

Pickleball does not have many rules, but there are some, and they can cause confusion at times. So, we are left wondering about the return of a serve. Let’s examine the question Can Either Player Return Serve In Pickleball?

Only the server is permitted to return the serve in pickleball, which is played diagonally from the server. Moreover, the ball must bounce twice before the receiver hits it back, according to the two-bounce rule.

It is not too difficult to provide service and receive it, but the few rules in place must be followed. To examine each of these components in greater detail, we have compiled a comprehensive post. To learn more about this and more, be sure to read on. The receiver is the only player who may return the serve.

Can Either Player Return Serve In Pickleball?

Can Either Player Return Serve In Pickleball

No. There can only be one player from the first team who serves before passing the serve to the other team. Keeping this rule in place ensures the game remains fair and prevents one team from having an advantage over the other. Both players on the serving team should be able to return the ball, which would give them an advantage. As a result of this rule, all teams will play on a level playing field.

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Pickleball Returning The Serve

Previously, we mentioned that the serve must be hit diagonally. Singles can also use this rule; however, it is unclear who is allowed to return the serve in doubles. In the court section, that is the receiver who must receive the ball. Thus, you must always serve cross-court, and only the player who received the service can return it.

The rules of receiving and returning the serve will be covered shortly, but for now, let’s concentrate on the service. When the ball is in motion, the receiver may step forward to receive it once it is in motion. They are advised to wait behind the baseline before receiving the service. It is important to note that the returner must hit the ball back once before it can be hit back to the serving team.

The two-bounce rule should be observed by waiting behind the baseline to see where the ball will likely land.

Returning the serve means positioning yourself so that the shot is not received with your backhand, but rather with a forehand motion. Now that the ball is in play, making your way closer to the net is easier because the momentum helps you to follow through.

You will undoubtedly receive the ball on your right side of the court if it is the first serve of the game. To play the ball with a forehand motion, you can always adjust your stance so that you are standing on the side of the serve that you are receiving more left or right.

It is also important to consider your footwork, which is applicable to all paddle sports and racquet sports, including pickleball. Ensure that your feet are roughly shoulder-width apart and that your knees are slightly bent. Rather than standing on your heels, we recommend that you keep your weight on the balls of your feet.

If you follow this stance, you’ll be able to adapt more quickly to the ball’s trajectory, and you’ll be able to propel yourself forward with more “spring”. Ideally, you want your dominant hand gripped on the paddle for a forehand shot in case you need to return the ball.

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Returning the serve in pickleball: Additional considerations

Can Either Player Return Serve In Pickleball

Returning the serve also requires you to consider not just how, but where you intend to send the ball back. Ideally, you should play the ball in a way that will allow you to move closer to the net as quickly as possible, and you should play the ball in a way that will make it difficult for the player to return it.

It is important to keep in mind that they also must adhere to the two-bounce rule, which means that before they return the ball to your side of the court, they must allow it to bounce once. Hence, you should return the ball as deep into their half of the court as possible without crossing the opposing team’s baseline.

As a rule of thumb, you should position the shot on the server’s backhand, which, if the server is right-handed, means you should place it closer to the centerline “T”, as this will not only put the shot on their backhand but will also create confusion among the opposing team. When your opponents are both right-handed, you will generally do this.

Typically, the backhand shot is the one you want to play more toward the server’s weak side. In addition to putting them on the back foot, if the other player opts to take the shot, they may miss or throw their own teammate off balance due to moving a greater distance.

With the two-bounce rule, however, the chances of a team correctly returning the ball increase because it cannot return to non-volley zones (or kitchens). Players dominate in the non-volley zone only after the rally begins and they attempt to transition.

When the two-bounce rule is followed, the players are allowed to “volley” the ball while it is in the air. In the kitchen, however, the ball should be allowed to bounce once before being played, as it is a non-volley zone.

Pickleball Serving Rules

It is here that pickleball differs significantly from tennis. It is necessary to hit the ball underhand when serving. As well as standing behind the baseline, the server must also stand within the invisible extension of the mid-line and sidelines. Persons with physical disabilities are exempt from this requirement if the ball is struck without bouncing first.

The server should adhere to the rule requiring cross-court serving (or diagonal serving) when they are ready to serve. When it is the first serve, it always comes from the right side. The ball must also be struck below the server’s waistline; some rules specify that it must be below the naval, but this is difficult to judge, and the waist is a much better standard.

Let’s occur when the ball hits the net, and the team gets a second chance to serve; however, the service cannot go out-of-bounds nor can it touch the non-volley zone. Hence, a lot is deemed to be one that touches the net but falls in the respective area of play; otherwise, it is deemed to be a fault.

You will always serve diagonally to the right when your team is given a chance to serve. In the case of the first serve of the game, each team is permitted only one serve (the other teammate is not allowed to serve). As opposed to once the game has begun when each team member receives a turn at serving.

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Who Can Return The Serve In Pickleball?

Can Either Player Return Serve In Pickleball

The net must be divided evenly between all players when playing pickleball. Once the ball has been served diagonally across the net, it will be returned to the server by the receiver. 

Depending on the form of play, singles or doubles can be played, but in doubles, each team must have a backcourt player and a frontcourt player. It is considered a fault for a player to hit the ball into the net on their own side, and they will lose the point. Whenever a team scores 11 points, it wins.

Can You Serve The Ball In Either Service Box In Pickleball?

If you want to serve the ball properly in pickleball, make sure your serve lands within the service box and clears the kitchen. The ball must land in the correct service box and clear the kitchen if you serve from the right side of the court. 

The ball must also land in the left service box if you are serving from the left side of the court. You will be charged a fault for landing your ball inside the appropriate service box or if it fails to clear the kitchen.

Where Do You Return Serve In Pickleball?

The best place to stand when returning pickleball serves is deep and back through the middle of the court. In this way, you will cover the most space possible and have the best chance of getting to the serve.

Forehand and backhand serve are the two main types of pickleball serves. You will be able to return either type of service quickly if you are standing in the middle of the court.

You should always try to return pickleball serves deep and back through the center of the court when returning them! Achieving success will be easier if you follow these steps.

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Tips for Improving Return of Serve

Can Either Player Return Serve In Pickleball

Let’s explore some tips to improve your return of the serve in pickleball now that we understand the importance of it:

Practice Anticipation

The key to positioning yourself effectively is to anticipate the opponent’s serve. The direction of a shot can be better predicted by reading the body language of your opponent and observing their previous serves.

Work on Footwork

In order to effectively return a serve, good footwork is essential. Make sure you maintain your balance and perform quick lateral movements to be able to respond quickly to a serve.

Master the Third Shot Drop

After returning a serve, pickleball players use the third shot drop to regain control of the game. Your team can gain a significant advantage by executing this shot accurately.

Develop Spin Control

The serving team will find it more challenging to respond if you add spin to your return shots. To keep your opponents guessing, generate spin and vary its direction.

Frequently Asked Question

Where Can You Stand When Returning A Serve?

Standing in the ready position, you should be about one step behind the baseline. You will have the best chance of making a strong return to your opponent’s shot if you do this.
You will have difficulty hitting deep shots on the court if you are too far from the baseline. You will not be able to react to your opponent’s shot if you are too close to the baseline. There is a middle ground between these two extremes.

Where Is The Service Line In Pickleball?

It is important to know where the service line is when playing pickleball. There is an imaginary extension of the sidelines and centerline beneath the service line that is diagonally opposite from behind the baseline. On one side of the court, this means you should be standing behind the baseline, while on the other side, your opponent should be standing behind the baseline. 
On the other sideline should be your opponent if you are standing on the sideline. Your opponent should be in the middle of the court if you are standing in the middle. Identifying the service line will allow you to make sure that your opponent is receiving from a legal position as well.

What Are The New Serving Rules In Pickleball?

Pickleball’s rules are constantly evolving as the game continues to grow in popularity. The serving rules have recently been changed. During the serve, players must use only one hand to release the ball.
In this change, the playing field will be leveled and all players will be treated equally. Furthermore, players must now release the ball more precisely, making it more challenging.
Pickleball has gained some positive changes with these new serving rules. This will only enhance all players’ enjoyment of the game by adding an element of challenge and fairness.

Where Does The Second Server Start In Pickleball?

The serving team does not have a second server. In pickleball, the second server takes over when the ball leaves the bounds when it is served or when the serve hits the net. Whenever the serve goes out of bounds or hits the net, the second serve will be made from behind the baseline. The person who hits the ball becomes the second server if it goes out of bounds on a return or hits the net.


It is our hope that you have been able to clarify this nagging question and are now much more confident in knowing the rules of play before you step onto the court. Serves must be delivered cross-court, which means only players on that side of the court are allowed to return them. A two-bounce rule must also be followed by the players. Also, check How to Go Pro in Pickleball?


Alex jones

about Alex jones

As a freelance writer, I primarily write articles for Pickleball Click. With over 17 years of experience in playing pickleball, I have developed a deep love for this exciting and fast-growing sport.

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