For many new players to the game who have never played a racket sport, the serve seems to be the nemesis of many. Whether playing doubles or singles, this is an important part of the game in order to have a chance at winning.
Here are five tips to keep in mind while you are serving:
1) Make sure your serve is legal. Start with good habits and correct your serve now before you go any further in your playing. Many rec pickleball players let the side arm serving slide. Make sure you are not one of them, and if you think you might be, have someone watch you. Better to get in the habit of legal serving now before you have to go back and change an old habit. We all know how hard bad habits are to break! Here is a great video to illustrate a legal serve.
2) Get your serve in every time. I see new pickleball players try and get a little fancy with the serve and continue to hit the serve out of bounds or into the net. You will never have a chance at winning a point, if you cannot start a point. Check out our unforced errors article here. Focus on making sure you keep your serve in every time, rather than trying to add spin or hitting the line, and getting an unforced error. Once you have mastered this, then move on to working on mixing up your serve and getting fancy!
3) Think about where you are standing when you serve. You want to set yourself up for your strongest shot for the return of serve. Is your forehand or backhand shot your strongest? For example, when serving from the right service court, and your forehand is stronger, think about serving a little closer to the center line, as opposed to serving close to the right side line. This allows you to cover most of the service court with your forehand shot without having to move much and takes away an advantage from your opponent if they know you have a weak backhand.
4) Be ready to return the ball. Most likely you are not winning a ton of points off your serve so be ready to return the ball after you serve. Many new players forget about the double-bounce rule. Each team must hit their first shot off of the bounce. Make sure to be aware that you have to let the ball bounce before you hit the return. So stay back far enough that you can let the ball bounce before you hit it. We recommend staying back at or behind the base line after you serve.
5) Serve the ball deep in your opponents court. Once you have mastered getting your serve over the net and in bounds, the next best thing is make sure you serve deep to your opponents court to keep your opponents back at the base line. The advantage of pickleball is at the non-volley zone line, so you want to be the first to get there and keep your opponents back as long as you can. Read 5 Reasons To Play At The Non-Volley Zone Line if you want to know more about why playing at the line is so important.
Think about these tips when you go to serve next. We would love to hear from you once you have tried them and let us know how your playing has improved.