In pickleball, the serve is the opening shot that starts each point of the game.
It is made using a pickleball paddle and a pickleball ball. The server stands behind the baseline and uses an underhand stroke to hit the ball over the net and into the opponent’s service court diagonally across the court.
The serve must be made with the paddle face below the server’s wrist, and the ball must be struck cleanly without touching the net or going out of bounds. The serve is an important aspect of the game because it provides the server with an opportunity to take control of the rally and gain an advantage over their opponent.
By mastering the serve, you can improve your chances of winning points and ultimately the game.
How to serve in pickleball
- Stand behind the baseline on the right-hand side of the court if you’re the first server or on the left-hand side of the court if you’re the second server.
- Hold the ball in your non-paddle hand and toss it up with a slight arc. You must toss the ball at least 6 inches in the air before hitting it.
- Hit the ball with an underhand stroke using your paddle. The paddle face should be below your wrist when you make contact with the ball.
- The ball must clear the non-volley zone (the area within 7 feet of the net on either side) and land in the opposite diagonal service court.
- If the ball hits the net and lands in the proper service court, it’s called a let and the serve is replayed.
- If the serve lands out of bounds or doesn’t clear the non-volley zone, it’s a fault and the other team gets the serve.
- The serve changes sides each time a team earns a point.
Remember, you can’t step into the non-volley zone and hit the ball on a serve, and the serve must be made diagonally across the court. These rules help ensure fair play and make the game more challenging and strategic.
Importance of the pickleball serve
The serve is an important aspect of the game because it provides the server with an opportunity to take control of the rally and gain an advantage over their opponent. A well-placed and well-executed serve can be challenging for the receiving team to return, and it can lead to an easy point for the serving team. However, if the serving team commits a fault (e.g., the serve lands out of bounds or doesn’t clear the non-volley zone), the receiving team earns the point and gets to serve next.
Earning points from a serve
A point can only be earned from serving in pickleball. If the serving team wins the rally, they score a point, and they get to serve again.
Pickleball is played to 11 points (or 15 or 21 points depending on the game’s format). The first team to reach that score (and leads by two points) wins the game.