Relishing Pickleball: The Serve

David Zapatka

Quoting from Pickleball Fundamentals: Master the basics and compete with confidence by Mary Littlewood, when hitting a serve, “contact must be made below the waist, which is defined as level with the navel. Further, International Federation of Pickleball Official Tournament Rulebook rule 4.A1 states the arm ‘must be moving in an upward arc’ and that the paddle head, defined as the part of the paddle excluding the handle, ‘cannot be above any part of the line formed where the wrist joint bends. Most important among the rules concerning the serve are that the ball … must clear the net and land in the opponent’s court that is diagonally opposite the server and both of the server’s feet must be behind the baseline, between an extension of the center line and an extension of the sideline until after the ball is contacted. If the ball contacts the nonvolley-zone line or enters the zone, it is a fault. All other lines are part of the playing court and are considered to be inbounds.

“The trajectory of the served ball can be similar to that of a groundstroke (hard driven and low over the net) or it can be a slow-moving lofted shot. The goal of the server should be to consistently serve balls that land in the back 3 to 4 feet of the opponent’s service court.”

The most common serve is the forehand drive serve. “Stand in a forward stride position behind the baseline with your left shoulder pointing toward the target and your weight on your back foot. The ball is in your left hand and that arm is extended toward the net. Bend at the waist, take your paddle arm back, drop or toss the ball between you and the target, swing your paddle arm forward in an underhand motion and contact the ball below your waist. After ball contact, follow through by bringing your arm up and toward the target.” You can choose to serve deep, short, or at an angle. You can choose to serve backhand or hit a slow, high-arching lob. A variety of serves allows you to change the look of your delivery, making it more challenging for your opponent to return the serve.

Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some picklicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].