Serve It Up: Boosting Your Pickleball Serving Dominance

Pickleball Blog

Serve It Up: Boosting Your Pickleball Serving Dominance

Serve It Up: Boosting Your Pickleball Serving Dominance

Pickleball is quickly becoming a new American pastime. It is one of the best ways to exercise and have a lot of fun with friends without needing a ton of equipment. This is also one of those fast-paced games that you can enjoy developing quick reflexes and precision shots. 


While many factors will contribute to your overall success on the court, finding the best pickleball serving situations is critical. A quality pickleball serve can give you an immediate advantage over your opponent, putting them on the defensive and allowing you to dictate the pace and style of the game.


We will go over a lot of details about pickleball and how to best bring the game to your family and friends. Whether you are enjoying a backyard BBQ or getting ready for a community tournament, finding the best pickleball serve will help you dominate. Let’s dive into some of our tips, and types of pickleball serves to boost your game abilities. 


Serving Rules in Pickleball


Before we get too far into the details, it helps to go over the pickleball rules serving options that you’ll need to stick to you during the game. Understanding the different rules of serving in pickleball is critical to ensuring you don’t cause a fault or lose a point from an error.


To start, you must be behind the baseline and within the sidelines whenever you are serving in pickleball. These rules may change depending on if you’re playing a simple game in your backyard or if you are involved in a more professional setting. In general, they include: 


  • The only way to start a pickleball game is with a serve.
  • The first serve is always hit by the player on the right side of the court if you are playing singles or doubles. 
  • You must hit your serve with an underhand motion.


The whole reason to have the first serve come from an underhand motion is to prolong the game and give a little bit more fair play to everyone trying to earn points. Unfortunately, this can put a damper on the type of service you have available in your arsenal. You may have to adapt what we have in our list to fit the needs of your specific pickleball game.


In addition to the service being underhand, they also must be below the waist. The ball cannot land in any of the non-volley zones, and there is a two-bounce rule. In other words, you have to let the ball bounce before you can return it, but if it bounces twice, it causes a point. 


The best way to get familiar with the rules is if you are learning from an experienced player who has played in a community-level game. In the meantime, let’s go over some of the better types of service you come across.


Legal Pickleball Serves


For a serve to be legal in the traditional pickleball rules, it has to be underhand and no higher than the navel. These serves include:


The Lob Serve:

This is a high-arching shot designed to land deep into your opponent’s court. It often makes it incredibly difficult for them to return because they can’t quite tell where the ball will hit. To make this pickleball serve, you want to stand in the back of your service box and hit the ball with an upward motion. Try to aim for a high trajectory that will cause the ball to drop near the baseline on the other side of the net. It is a highly effective serve against any opponent positioned near the net as it forces them to retreat.


Pickleball Drop Serve:

One of the more common serves you’ll find in the game is when you drop the ball before making the serve. There are some pickleball drop serve rules that you have to follow for this basic shot. The ball can only bounce one time, and you must hit the ball below your navel. This isn’t necessarily a strong serve for people who want to dominate the game, but it’s important to know because it is very common for beginner players.


Kitchen Corner Serve:

The point of the kitchen corner serve is to create a little hard shot that lands in the corner of your opponent’s court closest to the net. You must be inside the volley area, but the idea is to force your opponent to return the ball from a pretty tricky position, giving you a slight advantage in the upcoming rally. You want to stand near the back of your own service box and hit the ball with a low flat trajectory, aiming for the corner closest to the net on the other side of the court without breaking the non-valley area.


Spinner Pickleball Serve Option:

The pickleball spin serve is one of the most popular dominating serve options. The idea is to create an unpredictable spin on your ball so that when it bounces in your opponent’s court, they won’t know what direction to move to return the volley. You can use a side spin or backspin, depending on where the ball lands on your board before you hit it, and you’ll most likely see a curve as it travels through the air. This is a highly effective serve against any opponent who struggles with footwork.


Center Line Serve:

A centerline serve in pickleball is exactly what you think it would be. The goal is to land your ball in the center of your opponent’s court, forcing them to move quickly. This is highly effective against double teams because it causes confusion between the two players. Without good teamwork, they won’t know who is going for the ball and will have to announce their intent. That gives you a slight advantage in knowing where to move next if the ball is going to be returned.


Backhand Serve:

The backhand serve in pickleball is a more advanced move because it requires more precision and muscle control. You want to stand toward the back of your service area and hit the ball with a quick backhand motion, aiming for some placement that might surprise your opponent. The whole goal here is to confuse an opponent that might be waiting for a more traditional forehand serve.


Soft Short Serve: 

This is one of our personal favorites. You are trying to land your shot as close to the net as possible while remaining legal in play. It’s a great way to confuse people who are toward the back of their play area because they will have to rush to try and get the ball. If you can add a bit of dramatic acting like you’re going to hit it really hard, but actually hit it gently, so much the better. 


Slightly Illegal Pickleball Serves


Everyone will have different rules when it comes to playing pickleball in their backyard. It’ll most likely come down to whether you were playing for fun or for points. Regardless, anything that is overhand is going to be considered a pickleball illegal serve. When you do see an overhand type of serve, it will probably be one of the two following categories:


Chainsaw Serve:

This is a high velocity shot that uses a rapid chopping motion to generate the power and spin on the ball. People using this type of serve will swing the paddle down with a quick choppy movement, causing the ball to spin rapidly and travel at breakneck speeds. While this is highly effective for people who don’t anticipate fast-paced shots, the pickleball chainsaw serve is often illegal because you have to do overhead for it to be as fast as you want.


Power Serve:

This is another high-velocity shot intended to force your opponent into a defensive form from the beginning. You must hit the ball with a flat trajectory and as much power as possible. That usually requires you to go overhand as you aim for somewhere deep into your opponent’s court.


Now that we’ve gone over some of the more common serves, let’s talk about some basic pickleball serve tips.


Tips for the Best Pickleball Serve


Whether you are trying a drop serve pickleball option or a soft serve to confuse your opponent, some basic tips will help you improve your game.


  • Practice, practice, practice: like any other aspect of the sport, the more you practice your serve, the better you will be at mastering it. Spend time trying to understand the different types of pickleball serves available and how you can best improve your personal techniques to build confidence.
  • Relax your body: anytime you have too much tension in your grip or on your body, it will impede your serve. Try to relax and create fluid movements that make for a smooth execution of your pickleball serving repertoire. 
  • Placement: The goal of any pickleball serve is to land where your opponent is going to have the hardest time making a return. Try to aim for areas of your opponent’s court that are difficult to defend or mix up your opponent’s footwork.
  • Be aware of the rules: It’s hard to practice your pickleball serves if you are not aware of the rules. Make an effort to understand how the rules work, including foot faults, double bounces, and anything else that would cause you to make an error.


Even when you take the time to understand the specific pickleball serve rules doubles or singles gameplay, you also want to try and create drills or practice routines that will significantly dominate the game. This can include setting up targets on the other side of the court, so your aim improves over time. 


You can also use specific footwork drills so that you are better prepared if a volley is returned. Of course, the best thing to do is to find a partner and practice with them repeatedly until your various pickleball servers become incredibly effective.


Wrapping it Up


Finding a powerful and effective pickleball serve will be crucial to dominating the game. By reviewing the different types of pickleball serving options available and finding ways to practice your technique, you can ensure your aim and placement become incredibly accurate. We hope this article helps improve your gameplay and enjoyment in one of the most fantastic sports to hit the world – Pickleball!