What Is Serve In Pickleball?

What is Serve in Pickleball?

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Pickleball is a fun sport that is played with paddles and a ball on a court. To start every point in pickleball, one player gets to do a serve. The serve is very important! It starts the whole point. This article will explain everything you need to know about serving in pickleball. You will learn the rules for how to serve properly. Serving can be tricky but this guide will make it easy. After reading, you will be a pro at pickleball serves!

What is a Serve?

A serve is how every point begins in pickleball. One player stands behind the baseline and hits the ball into the diagonally opposite service court. This starts the volleying back and forth. The serve is the only time when one team gets to control the start of play without the other team able to interfere.

Why is the Serve Important?

The serve begins each point in the game. It allows the serving team to take control right away. A good serve can make it hard for the opponent to return the ball. This gives the serving team an advantage to win the point. Mastering the serve is very important in pickleball.

The Rules and Technique for Serving

Serving in pickleball has specific rules. These rules help make sure the serve is fair for both teams. Here are the main requirements for a legal serve in pickleball:

Server Must Stay Behind the Baseline

  • The server must stand behind the baseline when serving.
  • The server can step over the baseline after contacting the ball.
  • At least one foot must be behind the baseline when hitting the serve.

Underhand Stroke Below the Waist

  • The serve must be started below the waist.
  • The serve is done with an underhand stroke.
  • The highest point of the paddle head must stay below the wrist joint when contacting the ball.

Hit the Ball Upwards

  • The paddle must be moving upwards when it hits the ball.
  • The serve stroke should go low to high.
  • This rule prevents illegal flat or sideways serves.

Only One Serve Attempt

  • The server only gets one chance to do their serve.
  • If the serve misses, it’s a fault and the other team gets the point.
  • There are no “do-overs” in pickleball for bad serves.

Let Serves are Allowed

  • A let serve is when the ball hits the net but still lands in the service court.
  • Let serves are allowed to be replayed without penalty.
  • The server gets to redo the serve if it’s a let serve.

Server Calls Score Before Striking Ball

  • The server must call out the score before hitting their serve.
  • This ensures both teams know the correct score.
  • If the server doesn’t call the score, it’s a fault.

Alternate Serving Sides

  • The server must switch sides after each point scored.
  • This keeps things fair by alternating advantage.
  • Partners take turns serving from opposite sides.

Serve to the Diagonal Service Court

One important serving rule is that the ball must be hit diagonally to the opponent’s service court. Here is how proper service courts work:

  • The serve must go diagonally across the net to the opposite service court.
  • The server cannot serve straight ahead or to the adjoining court.
  • Diagonal serving gives both sides an equal chance to reach the serve.
  • The service courts are the rectangles on each side of the net.
  • The server must keep the ball within the confines of the diagonal service court.

Diagonal serving is a key pickleball rule. Mastering control to consistently serve diagonally takes practice. But this technique keeps the game fair for both sides.

Serving Faults

There are several things that can cause a fault on the serve in pickleball:

Hitting the Ball Out of Bounds

  • If the served ball lands outside the service court, it is a fault.
  • The ball must land inside the confines of the diagonal service court.
  • Shanking the ball too deep or too wide results in a fault serve.

Violating Serving Rules

  • Not serving diagonally, serving above the waist, or stepping over the baseline during the serve.
  • These are rule violations that also result in a faulted serve.
  • The server fails to call the score before striking the ball.

Hitting the Net on the Serve

  • If the served ball hits the net but doesn’t go over, it’s a fault.
  • The ball must clear the net for a legal serve.
  • Hitting the top of the net usually results in the ball not making it into the service court.

Double Bounce Serves

  • The server is not allowed to bounce the ball twice before hitting the serve.
  • Only one bounce is permitted.
  • Bouncing the ball twice is also a faulted serve.

Serving Rotation

Pickleball has rules about the order of serving for teams:

  • Serving must rotate between partners after each point scored.
  • The first server on each team continues serving until their team loses a point.
  • Then it switches to the partner on that team for the next serve rotation.
  • This alternating pattern continues throughout the pickleball game.
  • Server rotation ensures both players on a team get equal chances to serve.

Knowing when it’s your turn to serve according to the rotation is important. Teams should coordinate smoothly between points to keep the serve rotation consistent.

Serving Strategy and Tips

Beyond just learning the rules, serving well in pickleball requires strategy and practice. Here are some tips to improve serving skills:

Aim for Consistency

  • Focus first on getting the ball cleanly over the net and into the service court.
  • Consistent serves will enable you to stay in the point.
  • Don’t worry about speed or tricky placement at first.

Use Different Serve Types

  • A drive serve hits the ball flat and fast at a low trajectory.
  • A topspin serve puts arc and spin on the ball to clear the net.
  • Mix up serve types to keep your opponent guessing.

Practice Controlled Placement

  • Aim wide or deep in the service court to improve control.
  • Move the location of your serve around to disrupt your opponent’s return.
  • Accuracy takes time to develop. Be patient and keep practicing.

Take Advantage of Weather Conditions

  • Use the wind to your favor on outdoor courts.
  • Adjust your serve placement based on sun or glare position.
  • Let weather impact your strategy and court positioning.


Serving is a vital part of pickleball. Following the proper serving rules and techniques will ensure you get off to a good start each point. With practice, you can develop reliable consistency and strategic placement on your serves. Mastering the serve will significantly boost your overall pickleball abilities. Use this guide to help improve your understanding of pickleball serving fundamentals.

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