Pickleball Serve: Rules and Tips for Beginners 

Regardless of your experience level in the game, knowing the importance of pickleball serves is important for everyone! From those subtle spins to the power-packed drives, having a basic knowledge of the serving rules and techniques adds the much needed finesse to your game. 

So here we are about to explore the mechanics, strategies, techniques and tips of pickleball serves that make serving a key player in your winning playbook. Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!

Having a Strong Grip of Pickleball Rules Makes the Game More Fun

Understanding the ins and outs of pickleball rules adds a whole new level of enjoyment to the game. Pickleball is a mix of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. And that is why it has taken the nation by storm. If you haven’t become a pickleball enthusiast yet, you’re bound to soon!

To fully enjoy the pickleball experience and compete in tournaments, it is important to stay updated on the latest rule changes. Let’s learn the basics that will help you learn the best pickleball serve for your next game. 

Serving Essentials

In pickleball, every point kicks off with the serve. The golden rule is simple , you can only score when it’s your turn to serve. No matter how epic the rally or skilled your play is, points are exclusively scored during your serving turn.

Now, let’s break down the six key pickleball serving rules:

Underhand or Backhand Motion

Your serve pickleball must have an underhand or backhand motion. This means that the arm of the server has to move in an upward arc when the ball is struck. You can’t hit from above or the side.

Contact Point Below the Waist

The point where the paddle meets the ball must be below your waist. 

Paddle Head Below Wrist

The paddle head must stay below the highest part of your wrist during contact, emphasizing the upward arc motion.

Diagonal Opposite Service Area

The serve must land diagonally across the court in the opponent’s service area, similar to tennis.

Correct Foot Placement

 Ensure at least one foot is touching the playing surface behind the baseline when you hit the ball. Keep your feet within the imaginary extension of the sideline and centerline.

One Serve Attempt

Unlike tennis, you only get one serve attempt. If you fault, the serve goes to your partner, or the other team gets a side out.

Pickleball Serve Techniques

Pickleball Serve Techniques

There are two types of pickleball serves: the traditional volley serve and the drop serve.

Volley Serve

Hit the ball before it touches the ground. This serve benefits from speed and power, ideal for experienced players.

Drop Serve

Drop the ball (from any height) and strike it after it bounces on the ground. Introduced in 2022, this serve is beginner-friendly, allowing for easier success and spin. 

Pros and Cons

Pickleball Volley Serve:


  • Speed and Power: Delivers a forceful shot with impressive speed.
  • Maximum Impact: Striking the ball just below the navel ensures a high impact point.


  • Limited Height: The power-packed serve may result in a higher bounce.
  • Risk of Overhit: There’s a potential to hit the ball too high and long.

Pickleball Drop Serve:


  • Spin Advantage: Ideal for adding spin to your serve, creating unpredictability.
  • Low Contact Point: A lower bounce height, making it challenging for opponents to respond.


  • Reduced Power: Lacks the sheer power associated with the traditional volley serve.
  •  Height Limitation: The drop serve rarely produces a bounce higher than mid-thigh.

Serving Sequence

Now, let’s talk about how pickleball serving works – it is like following a set order that keeps everything organized.

Before you start serving, you need to call out the score. If you are the one serving, make sure to say it loudly so the other team knows you are ready. The player on the right side of the court gets the first serve in a game or after a side out in doubles. In singles, it depends on the score.

When you see a player like Brandon Mackie doing a pickleball serve, remember that scoring involves three numbers: your team’s score, the opponent’s score, and a 1 or 2, showing if it’s the first or second server after a side out.

For example, a typical pickleball score might look like 6-3-2 – that means your team has 6 points, the opponents have 3, and it’s the second server’s turn for your team. Easy, right?

Common Faults in Pickleball Serves 

Beware of the following common service faults:

1. Foot Faults

Ensure one foot touches the ground, no jumping allowed.

2. Illegal Serving Motion

Follow the upward arc motion rule.

3. Wrong Player Serves

Stay mindful of whose turn it is to serve.

4. Serve Lands Out of Bounds

The serve must land diagonally and within court boundaries.

Positioning for the Best Pickleball Serves 

Now, let’s explore how players position themselves for the best serves in pickleball – keeping it simple and clear. In doubles, where there are four players on the court numbered 1-4, each has a designated spot during the serve.

The Server:

Positioned behind the baseline, the server must stay within the center line and sideline limits, considering their imaginary extensions. Most players prefer standing a bit back from the baseline to avoid potential foot faults.

The Server’s Partner:

The non-serving partner has flexibility in choosing their spot, but the rules suggest staying out of the way, typically behind the baseline. They must let the ball bounce before making a strike.

The Receiver:

Usually, the receiver stands one or two feet behind the baseline, centrally positioned to maximize their ability to return the serve.

The Receiver’s Partner:

This player typically takes their place at the kitchen line. Since they don’t need to let the ball bounce by the time it reaches them, they are ready to hit back the second shot from the serving team. Easy positioning, right?

Top 5 Tips for Serving and Receiving

 Pickleball Serves 

Here are a few pickleball serve tips and receiving tips for you to follow if you want to master the art of serving and receiving in pickleball: 

1. Watch the Ball, Not Its Trajectory

Keep your eyes on the ball until you’ve made a good connection.

2. Mix Up Your Serves

Catch opponents off guard by varying your serves – powerful, deep serves, lobs, shorter serves with backspin – hitting different areas each time.

3. Don’t Aim for Aces Every Time

 Aim for consistent, legal, and playable serves. Power comes with practice.

4. Keep Opponents Back

 Hit deep serves to keep opponents away from the kitchen line, giving you an advantage.

5. Aim for Different Targets

 As you become more comfortable, try serving to specific areas like your opponent’s backhand.


Mastering pickleball serves and the rules might seem complex at first, but with practice, they become second nature. Whether you are a seasoned player or just starting, understanding these rules and pickleball serve tips enhances the game’s enjoyment. So, don’t worry if it takes a few rounds – you will be acing those serves in no time!


What is a proper serve in pickleball serves rules?

A proper serve in pickleball is when you use an underhand or backhand motion to serve. This ensures that the paddle comes into contact with the ball below your waist. The serve must land diagonally in the opponent’s service area, and proper foot placement behind the baseline is important.

What is an illegal serve in pickleball?

An illegal serve in pickleball is when there’s a serving motion that is deviating from the required upward arc, or if the paddle contacts the ball above the player’s waist. In addition to that, improper foot placement, serving outside the diagonal service area, or attempting a second serve after a fault is considered illegal in pickleball.

How many servers are in pickleball?

In pickleball, only one server is allowed. If a fault occurs during any of the pickleball serves, the serve transfers to the opposing team or the server’s partner in doubles.

How many ways can you serve in pickleball?

There are two main ways to go for in pickleball serves : the traditional volley serve, where you hit the ball before it bounces, and the drop serve, where you drop the ball and strike it after it bounces. Each method has its own set of rules and advantages.

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