Can You Bounce Serve In Pickleball?

Can You Bounce Serve in Pickleball?

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Key Takeaways:

  1. In pickleball, a player can bounce the ball before serving, known as a drop serve.
  2. The ball must be released from the server’s hand or dropped from the paddle face, before being hit by the server.
  3. The serve must be hit with an underhand stroke, and the ball can be dropped from any height but cannot be thrown, tossed, or released with any added force to bounce it.
  4. The drop serve is a permanent addition to the game and allows the ball to bounce anywhere on the court before serving.
  5. According to the official USA Pickleball Rules, both volley serves and drop serves must be made underhand, and the ball must bounce before returning for both the receiving and serving teams.

What Is A Bounce Serve In Pickleball?

A bounce serve or a drop serve in pickleball is a serving technique that involves bouncing the ball before hitting it. This method is a permanent addition to the game and allows the ball to bounce anywhere on the court before serving.

Compared to the volley serve where the ball is hit before it bounces, the drop serve involves releasing the ball from the server’s hand or dropped from the paddle face and allowing it to bounce before striking it. To execute a legal bounce serve, the player must hit the ball with an underhand stroke following the release or drop.

According to the official USA Pickleball Rules, the ball can be dropped from any height but must not be thrown, tossed, or released with any added force to bounce it. The key requirement is that the ball must be hit underhand and from below the waist if it’s a volley serve. If a drop serve is chosen, the server can raise the ball to any natural height and drop it, allowing it to bounce at least once before hitting it.

Note: It’s crucial to understand that in both types of serves – the volley serve and the drop serve – the ball must bounce before returning for both the receiving and serving team.

Read more about faults in pickleball to ensure you’re not making common serving errors.

Rules of the Bounce Serve in Pickleball

The bounce serve or drop serve in pickleball is a relatively new addition to the game, one that has expanded the serving techniques available to players. But, like all other moves in the sport, it comes with a specific set of rules that must be strictly adhered to.

1. Underhand Stroke

The first and foremost rule of the bounce serve is the requirement of an underhand stroke. Regardless of whether you choose a drop serve or a volley serve, the stroke should always be underhand. According to USA Pickleball’s Official Rules, this means the paddle should be moving in an upward motion, or from low to high, at the time of striking the ball.

2. Dropping the Ball

When performing a drop serve, the server must drop the ball without imparting any additional force. Throwing, tossing, or propelling the ball to achieve a bounce is not allowed. The ball should be released or dropped from the paddle face from any un-aided height.

3. One Bounce Only

Once the ball is dropped, it is allowed to bounce only once before the server strikes it.

4. Ball Must Bounce in the Service Court

After the server strikes the ball, it must bounce in the opponent’s service court before the opponent can return it.

“It’s important to remember that during a serve, whether it’s a drop serve or a volley serve, the ball must bounce on the opponent’s side before it can be returned. Failing to do so can result in a fault.”

To improve your serving techniques and familiarize yourself with faults, check out how pickleball tournaments work.

How to Hit a Bounce Serve: A Step-By-Step Guide

The bounce serve, also known as the drop serve, can add a fresh spin to your pickleball game. Here’s a simple yet effective guide to master this serving technique.

Step 1: Ready Stance

First and foremost, establish a steady and balanced ready stance. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with your body square to the net. In pickleball, the rules require that at least one foot must be touching the court surface at the time of serving. It’s crucial to get this stance right as it’s the foundation for a successful serve.

Step 2: Hold the Ball and Paddle Correctly

Hold the ball in your non-dominant hand and your paddle in your dominant hand. The paddle’s face should be open and in line with the intended direction of the serve. A correct grip will facilitate a smooth, underhand swing when you strike the ball.

Step 3: Drop the Ball

Now, simply drop the ball from your non-dominant hand or off the face of your paddle. The height from which you drop the ball can be of your choosing. Remember not to throw or toss the ball – it must drop naturally.

Step 4: The Underhand Swing

As the ball bounces up from your court, meet it with an underhand swing of your paddle. Remember, the paddle should move in an upward motion, from low to high. Ensure the swing is fluid and controlled.

Step 5: Follow Through

After making contact with the ball, follow through your swing, extending your arm towards your target. This will aid in controlling the direction and pace of the ball.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you practice the bounce serve, the more you will improve your accuracy, control, and consistency.”

For an in-depth understanding of the rules and best practices of the bounce serve, visit Better Pickleball and Selkirk.

Should you encounter challenges with overhand serves, you can also explore this guide on hitting overhand in pickleball.

Benefits and Drawbacks of the Bounce Serve


Understanding the benefits of the bounce serve can greatly enhance your strategic approach to the game.

Easier on the Wrist

First, a bounce serve can be much easier on the wrist as compared to a traditional serve. This is because the upward motion required for a legal underhand serve in pickleball can often strain the wrist, especially when done repeatedly.

More Time for Alignment

Secondly, with the ball bouncing once before you have to hit it, you get an extra fraction of a second to position yourself and align your paddle. This can lead to a more controlled and targeted serve.

Expands Strategy Options

Lastly, incorporating the bounce serve into your repertoire can expand your strategic options. The bounce serve can catch opponents off-guard and diversify your serving patterns.

“Incorporating the bounce serve into your play is not just about the legality of the move. It’s also about using this serve to enhance your strategic approach to the game.”

For more tips on how to increase performance in pickleball, check out this guide for intermediate players.


While the bounce serve can offer some distinct advantages, it’s essential to be aware of its drawbacks as well.

Requires Precision

One of the biggest challenges of the bounce serve is that it requires precision. Misjudging the bounce can lead to a poor serve or even a fault.

Limited Power

The bounce serve might not generate as much power as the volley serve because the bounce can take some pace off the ball.

To balance the pros and cons of the bounce serve, consider your comfort level with the technique, your skill level, and your overall game strategy. Want to understand more about the intricacies of scoring in pickleball, especially relating to serving? This guide on how to get an ace in pickleball could help.

When to Use the Bounce Serve in Pickleball?

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits and drawbacks, let’s explore the scenarios where you can put the bounce serve to good use.

1. Lower Skill Levels

If you’re still a beginner or at a lower skill level in pickleball, mastering the traditional serve can sometimes be a challenge. The bounce serve can be a great alternative in these cases, as it allows you more time and control to execute a successful serve. You can focus on getting the serve in play and keeping the game going, instead of worrying about faults.

2. Unpredictability

The element of surprise is a key factor in pickleball, just like in any other sport. By switching up your serves between traditional and bounce serves, you can keep your opponent guessing and off balance, thus giving you a strategic advantage.

3. When Dealing with Physical Constraints

If you’re experiencing a wrist injury or if you have chronic issues with your wrist, the bounce serve can be a lifesaver. As mentioned earlier, it’s easier on the wrist compared to the traditional serve.

Remember, pickleball is not just about power and pace. It’s also about precision, placement, and tactics. The bounce serve can be a valuable addition to your arsenal, provided you use it wisely and at the right times.

“Just as a carpenter has more than one tool in their toolbox, a pickleball player should have more than one type of serve in their repertoire.”

Interested in learning more about pickleball techniques and strategies? Visit this guide on pickleball tournament workings for some useful insights. For more detailed information on the rules and regulations around serving in pickleball, refer to this helpful guide from USA Pickleball.

How to Practice the Bounce Serve?

It’s one thing to know when to use a bounce serve, and quite another to be able to execute it successfully on the court. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Start Small: Begin by simply dropping the ball and hitting it after the bounce, focusing on getting the serve in the service box. Don’t worry about power or spin at this point.
  2. Experiment with Heights: Try dropping the ball from different heights and see how it impacts the bounce and your subsequent serve.
  3. Add Some Spin: Once you get the hang of the basic bounce serve, start incorporating some spin. This could be a slice or a topspin, depending on what you are comfortable with.
  4. Practice Different Targets: In a match, you won’t always be aiming for the same spot. Practice targeting different areas in the service box.
  5. Simulate Match Situations: Finally, try to simulate match situations as closely as possible. Pressure can often alter the way you play, so practicing under similar conditions will make you more prepared.

While practicing, remember that a bounce serve doesn’t necessarily have to replace your volley serve. Both can coexist in your serving toolbox and be used depending on the situation and strategy.

Here is a step-by-step guide to hitting a bounce serve in pickleball. You can also check out these pickleball lessons that provide comprehensive insights into different techniques and strategies in pickleball.

Winning Strategies Using the Bounce Serve

It’s always good to have multiple tools in your arsenal when you step on the pickleball court. A well-executed bounce serve can be a game-changer. Below are some winning strategies that can help enhance your game:

Serve Deep

One successful strategy is to serve deep into your opponent’s court. This puts the receiving player on the defensive from the beginning of the point. When practicing your bounce serve, try to aim deep into the service box.

Use Spin

Adding spin to your serve can enhance unpredictability. A topspin serve will bounce higher and can be challenging to return. A slice or sidespin serve can bounce off in unexpected directions, catching your opponent off guard.

Target Weaknesses

If your opponent struggles with low balls or high balls, tailor your serve to exploit this weakness. This could mean bouncing the ball higher or lower before you strike it.

Change up the Pace

The beauty of the bounce serve is that you can vary the pace at which you serve. Keep your opponent guessing by changing up the speed of your serves.

It’s worth remembering that the bounce serve is merely one tool in your pickleball toolkit. The real key to winning is to have a diverse array of shots and strategies. Visit this guide on pickleball rating determinations to learn more about how your skills might be assessed. Also, check out Paddletek for a more detailed discussion of different serve strategies.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Bounce Serving In Pickleball

When learning and perfecting the bounce serve, there are a few pitfalls players often stumble into. Here’s a list of common mistakes and how to avoid them:

1. Too Much Force

Some players have the tendency to drop the ball with too much force, causing an erratic bounce. Remember, the ball should be released from your hand or paddle with minimal force.

2. Inconsistent Height

The height from which you drop the ball can greatly affect your serve. Inconsistent drop heights can lead to inconsistent serves.

3. Overly Complicated Serves

While it can be tempting to try fancy serves with a lot of spins and angles, simplicity often reigns supreme, especially when starting out.

4. Not Practicing Enough

Like any new skill, the bounce serve requires practice. Ensure you dedicate enough time to hone this skill and incorporate it seamlessly into your game.

Avoiding these common mistakes can dramatically improve your bounce serve. For additional tips and tricks on improving your pickleball game, check out our intermediate player guide. Furthermore, read about the latest rule changes in 2023 on Selkirk’s educational blog to stay updated on pickleball serve rules.

The Future of the Bounce Serve in Pickleball

With the introduction of the bounce serve, the game of pickleball continues to evolve, providing players with a variety of serving options. But what does this mean for the future of the sport?

The bounce serve is not just a fleeting trend but a permanent addition to the game. It increases the diversity of the game, allowing for more strategic plays and broadening the range of skills necessary to excel in pickleball.

As players become more adept at using and defending against the bounce serve, we could see an increased emphasis on serving techniques in training and competitive play. Moreover, the technique could shape the evolution of pickleball paddles and balls, with manufacturers designing equipment to enhance control and accuracy for bounce serves.

The inclusion of the bounce serve also raises the possibility of future rule changes to continue diversifying the sport. Whether it be changes to serving rules or the introduction of new playing techniques, one thing is certain – pickleball will continue to evolve, grow, and surprise its players.

Stay ahead of the game by reading up on pickleball strategies and changes here, and for an in-depth look at the recent rule changes, visit Better Pickleball’s comprehensive guide on the subject.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bounce Serving In Pickleball

When it comes to the bounce serve in pickleball, there are a few common questions that often arise. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers:

How many times can the ball bounce before serving?

The ball must bounce only once before hitting it for the serve. If the ball bounces more than once, it will be considered a fault.

Can you bounce serve in a doubles match?

Yes, the bounce serve is allowed in both singles and doubles matches. Each player can choose their preferred serving technique.

What happens if the ball bounces twice on the serve in pickleball?

If the ball bounces more than once before the serve, it is considered a fault, and the server loses their serve.

Remember: The key to a successful bounce serve is practice and consistency. Start by mastering the basic technique before incorporating it into your game strategy.

To learn more about potential faults in pickleball, you can visit our article on pickleball faults. You can also check out the official pickleball rules to ensure you’re up to date with all the regulations of the sport.

Mastering The Bounce Serve: Techniques and Tips

Once you’ve got the basic rules down, the next step is to actually learn how to do a bounce serve. Here are some tips and techniques to help you master this serving style.

Find Your Rhythm

Just like a dancer finds their rhythm to the music, you should find your rhythm for the bounce serve. The bounce serves needs a rhythm between the bounce and the serve. Try different times until you find the one that works best for you.

The Grip and Stance

A firm grip and a comfortable stance are vital for the bounce serve. Use the continental grip for better control. As for the stance, position your feet shoulder-width apart with the foot opposite your paddle hand slightly in front.

Visualize the Trajectory

In the bounce serve, visualizing the trajectory of the ball can help improve accuracy. Picture the path of the ball from your paddle to the opponent’s court. This mental exercise will help your serve accuracy over time.

Practice Makes Perfect

As with any sport, practice is key to mastering the bounce serve. Spend time practicing this serve technique during your training sessions.

To learn more about grip and stance in pickleball, check out our comprehensive guide on pickleball grips and pickleball stance.


Becoming proficient in the bounce serve in pickleball is no small feat, but with patience and dedication, it’s an attainable goal that can truly elevate your game. With its unique characteristics and the strategic advantages it offers, it’s no wonder that the bounce serve has been garnering much attention in the pickleball community.

By focusing on establishing your rhythm, perfecting your grip and stance, and continually visualizing the trajectory of the ball, you can start to hone your bounce serve technique. Remember that practice is essential. Each time you step onto the pickleball court, you’re given another opportunity to improve and make progress.

The beauty of pickleball, and indeed any sport, lies not just in the competition, but also in the journey of growth and learning. Embrace each serve, each point, and each game as a step forward in your pickleball journey. Happy playing!

For more useful tips on pickleball, from understanding the various serve types to learning advanced strategies, be sure to check out our pickleball blog.

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