Considered as one of the fastest-growing games, pickleball’s rise in popularity has prompted many parks and sports venues to add this already decades-old athletic activity to their sports program. This quick-paced and competitive game combines fundamentals from well-known paddle sports such as ping-pong, badminton, and tennis, where games commence after the pickleball ball is served, putting considerable emphasis on the importance of an excellent pickleball service.
What are the rules of pickleball serving?
As simple and easy it is to learn the rules in playing pickleball, the single most important guideline to remember is that points can only be scored by the side that serves. Pickleball service is setting the ball into play, requiring participants to hit the pickleball across the court diagonally, clearing a 7-ft. non-volley zone in front of the net with the goal of landing it in your rival’s diagonal service court.
Servers hit the ball using an underhand motion with the paddle coming from below the waist while balancing to keep both feet behind the backline. The ball should be tossed and hit before it bounces on the ground, and service is awarded to the opposing side until a service fault is made. Also, paddles are to be held below the wrist and overhead smash serves like the ones performed by Serena and Djokovic, are strictly off- limits.
How to Serve in Pickleball
Professional pickleball players and enthusiasts recommend that you work on your techniques first, strategies later. And though a killer serve may take a lot of practice drills, it will not only make you a formidable foe in the future, but it is also the fastest and easiest way to see your game’s enrichment.
The Drop Serve
Basically used to place an opponent into a tight spot, this service strategy is a basic serve where you lob the ball high into the final couple of feet of the baseline, putting them in a position where it is more difficult to react from a follow-up hit placed near the net.
The Spin Serve
Not a lot of players will say that they add a little spin on their serves since the idea is to just get the ball in play and wait until the opposing player commits a mistake that you can take advantage of. Spin serves are a great way to get your adversary scrambling to the front of the net as they are intended to land a few feet from the no volley zone and bounce to the direction on the spin you gave it.
The Power Serve
Much like the drop serve, it is aimed to land at a spot near the baseline but is more powerful and precise. Top players use their entire body, particularly the hips and core, to add power to their serves, opening their torso at the start to generate force on their swing then finishing with the paddle over their opposite shoulder.
The common strategy of most players is to start with long drop or power serves before taking advantage of the space created in front of the net. Once the opposing players are comfortable standing back playing your deep serves, a short spin serve will send them scurrying to the frontline to retrieve a hit.
5 Pickleball Serving Tips
Being the first shot aimed at overcoming an opponent, it may sound that a difficult-to-return serve is highly probable in becoming a successful pickleball player. And how hard could coursing and hitting a ball into a big box on the ground be?
Bear in mind that there is more to it than that which is why aside from the ones that have been already mentioned, here are a few quick tips on serving in pickleball properly:
1. Apply A Consistent Service Routine
Just like NBA’s Jason Kidd blowing the rim a kiss before each free throw attempt, a pre-service routine can prep both your mind and body for the shot. Find a rhythm that feels right and run through it each time you make a trip behind the service line.
2. Focus On Your Target
Setting your sight on a particular spot where you’d want the ball to go can make a big difference when serving in pickleball. Using your back foot to push off weight as you bring the paddle forward provides the ball with more power and accuracy, generating a killer service to return.
3. Release, Hit, Follow Through, Repeat
Dissimilar to tennis where players toss the ball up, simply release the ball at waist height and hit as it drops towards your paddle. It is critical to follow through with your paddle upon contact to give the ball a slight push towards the direction of your target. For maximum consistency, some would suggest to shift your weight from your back foot to your front and immediately make contact with the ball as soon as it’s dropped for additional proficiency.
4. Go Deep
Where your serve lands on the court can be an essential factor in how effective your service really is. Bringing the ball deep into the opposing player’s baseline is one of the oldest tricks in the pickleball book as it keeps them from getting to the net quick and eliminates their ability to return the ball with precision and accuracy.
5. Keep Them Guessing
A good way to keep your opponent off-balance is by utilizing various types of serves. Playing with a deep service arsenal prompts the competition to stay on their toes and denies them the opportunity to learn your weaknesses and tendencies. Deciding on which pickleball service would be highly effective depends on where your foe is located on the court, making acute knowledge of the different service types essential.
Pickleball serving is very important since it starts the rally that will allow you to gain points. Although the other team gets the first crack at establishing a net presence, only servers get to score. Proper technique and strategy could take you a long way.
The proximity provided by the small playing field of a pickleball court allows participants to be close enough to hold conversations during gameplay, contributing to the rapid growth of this popular game. That same proximity, though, permits players to find the best strategy on how to set the competition in a pickle.