How to Serve in Pickleball – Serving Rules & Tips for Beginners

Alex Jones

With its combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, pickleball is becoming one of the world’s most popular sports. The game is fun and engaging for people of all ages since it is played on a court with a net. Mastering the skill of serving, which sets the tone for the entire game, can have a significant impact on your success on the court.

Understanding the Rules of Pickleball

It’s important to understand the art of serving in order to understand the basic rules of pickleball.

Court and Equipment

On a court that resembles a smaller tennis court, specific areas are marked for serving, receiving, and playing pickleball. Solid paddles and holes-filled balls are used much like wiffle balls.

Serving Rules

Upon being served, the ball crosses the court diagonally from behind the baseline. Standing behind the baseline with both feet, players must strike the ball underhand. It is necessary for the serve to clear the net in order to land within the designated service court.

Scoring System

The scoring system for pickleball is unique. It is common for serving teams to earn the points, with the winning team needing a two-point advantage over the losing team.

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Importance of a Good Pickleball Serve

How to Serve in Pickleball

Strong serves can make all the difference in pickleball. You control the point from the start with the right serve, which puts pressure on the opponent. As well as putting your opponent on the defensive, well-placed serves can give you an advantage during rallies.

Serving Rules

Depending on where a player stands behind the baseline, they can serve either right or left of the center line. The server must call the score when serving the ball diagonally across the court. At all times, the serve must be underhand and below the waist.

Non-volley zones and lines at the front of service areas cannot be touched by the ball. The rest of the lines are considered in. It is mandatory for the server to switch sides if they score after each serve.

The USAPA Rulebook [PDF] can be downloaded by clicking here.

Singles Serving Rules

The game of singles continues until one player loses a point. After each serve, you must switch sides. If your score is even, you should serve from the right side of the court. In case of an odd score, serve from the left. When calling out the score, you call out your own score before your opponent’s.

Doubles Serving Rules

Each team member gets a chance to serve before switching back to the opposing team. At the start of the game, the second server of the first team is skipped.

Right-handed serves follow each side. Serving alternates between the two sides each time. A complex set of rules governs player positions and which side serves first. You will gain a better understanding of the game if you play with someone who is more experienced.

Two-Bounce Rule

Pickleball rules ensure an enjoyable and balanced game. Two-bounce rules are examples of such rules. The two-bounce rule must be followed when serving and returning groundstrokes. Bob’s serve must be bounced before Alice returns it. Bob must wait and let Alice’s return bounce before returning it.

After the serve and the first return, players are allowed to volley the ball. In tennis, volleying refers to hitting the ball before it bounces. The first bounce of the ball is a groundstroke.

What is a “let” in Pickleball?

A rally can be redone for any reason under the term “let”. There is no point scored when a let occurs. The game can be let when something outside of it interferes with it. If your dog catches the ball and runs away with it, that would be an example. Most leases are service lets, but there are other types as well.

In tennis, a service let occurs when the ball hits the net but lands on the right side of the court. When a ball glances off the top, it usually touches the net. If the serve is let because of a service let, it is repeated without penalty. Neither a player nor a referee can call a let. More than one consecutive let is not possible.

When a serve hits the net but fails to pass over it, it is considered a fault. It is also possible for the ball to get a service fault when it hits the net, goes over it, and lands outside the service court. Unless the ball hits the net, all shots are playable.

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How to serve in Pickleball in Step by Step

How to Serve in Pickleball

The serve plays a crucial role in pickleball and can significantly affect your performance. Follow these steps for executing a proper serve:

Step 1: Select the right position. It depends on your score and the type of game you are playing whether you are playing singles or doubles.

Step 2: Make the score public. Starting with your score is always a good idea. The serve number should always be the first number in your score when you are playing doubles.

Step 3: Determine where to aim and how to serve. Let’s talk about some of the types of serves next.

Step 4: Take a deep breath and relax. Having a routine before you serve is helpful, just as making a free throw is helpful for a basketball player.

Step 5: Hold the ball in your opposite hand and drop it in front of you. The ball should be thrown down, not up.

Step 6: Drop the ball with your paddle underhand as you contact it in front of your body.

Step 7: Make sure you follow up. Swing smoothly and relaxedly after you follow through.

Step 8: Get ready to face your opponent again.

Types of Advanced Servers

How to Serve in Pickleball

Playing a few pickleball games may make you think about how to improve your game. Serves are important because they are the only way to score in the game. My local gym recently provided me with some information about serving techniques.

There are three types of pickleball serves:

  • High Soft Serve
  • Power Serve
  • Soft Angle Serve

Each of these techniques has its advantages. Your serve can greatly improve your game if you keep your opponent guessing.

High Soft Serve

Using a high-arc serve, you hit deep into the court of your opponent. No matter what your level is, you can use this serve. As a result of the variety in this serve, you are able to keep your opponent on their toes and keep them on their toes.

If you are serving a high-soft serve, you may choose to aim it either backwards or forwards. It is possible to get your opponent out of position, move them, and set up your next shot using this strategy.

When to use it

One of the most common misconceptions about hitting the ball is that hitting it hard and fast is always more effective. 

It requires finesse, however, to play pickleball. If your opponent becomes accustomed to returning power serves, you might consider high-soft serves. Power serves are also possible with this serve in addition to drawing the other team closer.

The advantages

With this service, everyone can find something they like. Change the pace of the game by using the high slow arc to keep your opponent guessing. Due to your shot’s high arc, your opponent will stay away from the net.

Due to this, the other player has to play the ball at their own pace. Blocking a serve with a paddle is possible for an opponent. Make sure you do the work, not your opponent. It is more likely for them to make an error in this situation.

Power Serve

An opponent’s court is invaded by power serves which are fast, low, and deep. Your opponent can be shot straight at, or you can target the forehand corner or backhand corner. It’s harder to serve power than a high-soft serve, but if you want to improve, you need to know how to serve power.

When to use it

When you know your opponent’s backhand is weak, you can force them to make mistakes with this shot. In addition, a player who is less quick may need to move to one side if the ball is hit straight at them. If your feet aren’t set, returning a serve is more difficult.

Power serves can also be combined with high-soft serves. If you serve a few high-soft serves, it is possible that the other player will begin to move forward. If they’re preparing to return your serve inside the court, it is the perfect time to power serve right at their feet.

The advantages

In order to master this advanced serve technique, you will need to practice a lot. By using this serve, you force your opponent to defend your forehand or backhand corner with every shot in their arsenal. Furthermore, the low arc and speed restrict a player’s ability to set up shots or create spin on a ball in addition to making it difficult to return the serve. In addition, since the shot is so fast, the other player cannot move up to the non-volley zone.

Soft Angle Serve

To alter the rhythm of the game, three main types of serves are used in addition to the hard angle serve and the soft angle serve. Often, shots like this drop near the sidelines and kitchen lines. When the ball bounces, it is important for it to leave the court. It is the most difficult of the three main serves because of the small target you are aiming at.

When to use it

Soft angle serves are great for forcing opponents off the court’s edge. There is a large open lane on the far side of the court as a result. You can score easily in this situation if the opponent is unable to return to position in a timely manner.

A great time to use this serve is when your opponents are stacked. In doubles, stacking refers to being on the same side of the court during the serve return. As both teams are on the same side, a proper soft angle serve makes things extremely dangerous for the opposition. A lane remains open on the other side.

The advantages

Serving this way will put your opponent at a disadvantage. It’s important for the other player to move quickly because a ball drops near the kitchen. When your opponent doesn’t get back in position, you can lob the ball right over their heads.

The serve can also be challenging, so be careful. If you don’t serve, you won’t be able to score.

How to Serve an Ace

Pickleball balls slow down a lot when you hit them hard due to wind resistance. The ball and underhand serve rule make it very challenging to serve past an opponent.

A soft short serve is the best way to serve an ace. In this way, you will draw the opponent’s attention forward. If your opponent is standing inside the court, you can hit a power serve at his feet. If players are not very quick, they will have difficulty returning.

Serve with a spin

Spin can also be applied to the ball when serving. Experience with other racket sports will make spinning the ball easier. It can be difficult to get a lot of spin with pickleball’s smooth paddles and balls. There is a limit to how much you can spin the ball in tennis and ping pong, but it can still be done to some extent. When the ball has some side spin, it will be much harder to control. Spin the paddle by pulling it sharply towards you as you contact the ball.

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Strategies for a Successful Pickleball Serve

Knowing various serving strategies in addition to mastering basic techniques can give you an edge on the court.

Placement and Angles

By varying the placement of your serve, you can keep your opponent guessing. Go for the corners and sidelines instead of letting them predict your move.

Serving to Weaknesses

Utilize your serve’s strengths to target your opponent’s weaknesses. In case they struggle with backhand returns, focus on serving to the backhand side.

Utilizing the Serve-and-Volley Approach

Once your serve has been delivered, move to the net. It is possible to put pressure on your opponent when you approach them aggressively.

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Practicing and Improving Your Serve

Serving skills can be improved by practicing consistently. Practice can be accomplished in several ways, including:

Warm-up Drills

Perform warm-up drills to warm up your arm and become familiar with the ball. Practicing serving at different spots on the court will help you improve your accuracy.

Solo Practice

By practicing on your own, you can improve your technique and control. The ball needs to be consistently hit over the net and into the service area.

Partner Practice

During partner practice sessions, alternate serving and returning. Simulations of real-life scenarios will help you improve your reaction time.

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Overcoming Common Serving Challenges

When you serve in pickleball, it is possible to become mentally exhausted. Following are some tips to help you overcome common challenges:

Dealing with Nerves

Focus on your technique and strategy rather than getting overwhelmed by nerves. Take deep breaths while maintaining a positive attitude.

Addressing Foot Faults

In order to avoid foot faults, which result in points being forfeited, you should be aware of where your foot is placed during the serve.

Handling Service Return Variations

As a result, you will have to adjust your strategy if your opponent returns your serve differently from what you expected. You should be able to react quickly and remain adaptable to the shots they take.

Serving Etiquette in Pickleball

It is important to respect your opponents in pickleball. Let your opponent serve when he or she is ready, and do not rush them. It is important to maintain sportsmanship throughout the game.


Can you bounce ball before serving in pickleball?

The pickleball can be bounced before being served in pickleball (drop serve). A server must drop the ball off the paddle face or release the ball from his hands in order to hit the ball. Before a ball bounces, servers can hit it as many times as they want.

Can I use an overhand serve in pickleball?

Servants must use an underhand motion according to pickleball rules.

How do I improve the power of my serve?

Practice generating more speed with your arm swing by strengthening your core.

What happens if my serve hits the net and goes over?

There is no point in a point if the serve clips the net and lands in the incorrect service box.

Is it essential to aim for the corners while serving?

The most important thing is consistency and ball placement, not aiming for the corners.

Can I change my serve technique during a game?

Keeping your opponent guessing is possible by switching between different serve techniques.


To gain a competitive advantage in pickleball and improve overall performance, it is important to master the art of serving. Consistency, accuracy, and strategic variation are the three key elements of effective serving.

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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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