Serving is one of the most important skills in pickleball because it can give you an advantage over your opponent and help you score more points. In this article, we will share 15 tips on how to serve better in pickleball, from choosing your target to hitting the ball deeper.
|How to serve better in pickleball: 15 tips to improve your game|
What is pickleball and why is serving important?
Pickleball is a fun and fast-paced sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It is played on a court with a net, using paddles and a plastic ball with holes.
One of the main rules of pickleball is that you can only score points when you are serving. This means that every time you serve, you have a chance to win the point. But if you miss your serve or hit it out of bounds, you lose your turn and give your opponent the opportunity to score.
Therefore, having a good serve technique is crucial for winning more games in pickleball. A good serve can make it harder for your opponent to return the ball, and put you in a better position to attack the next shot.
How to serve better in pickleball: 15 tips
Here are some tips on how to improve your serve technique in pickleball:
1 – Aim for your target
Before you hit the ball, you should have a clear idea of where you want it to land. Having a target will help you focus and surprise your opponent.
Most players are better at hitting the ball with their forehand than their backhand. So, you can try to serve to your opponent's weaker side by aiming for their backhand. This will make it more difficult for them to return the ball. You can also try to hit the ball with more power if you are confident.
If you are new to pickleball, you should start by serving to the middle of your opponent's service area. This will increase your chances of getting the ball in and avoid making mistakes.
As you get better at serving, you can try to serve deeper (closer to the baseline) and aim for the corners of your opponent's service area. This will make your serve more challenging and force your opponent to move more.
2 – Swing from your shoulder
A common mistake that many players make is to swing the paddle from their wrist or elbow when they serve. This can cause injuries and reduce the accuracy and power of your serve.
One of the best tips for serving in pickleball is to swing from your shoulder. This will allow you to generate more momentum and hit the ball with more force and control.
You also want to follow through with your swing, extending your arm and moving the paddle all the way forward.
If you have played tennis or padel before, this tip should sound familiar!
3 – Grip the paddle firmly
Another tip for improving your serve is to grip the paddle firmly. Many players hold the paddle too loosely, which can affect their swing and return.
Take a deep breath and then squeeze the paddle with more pressure. This will help you stabilize the paddle and hit the ball with more precision.
4 – Hit the ball deeper
Once you are comfortable with your serve and rarely make illegal serves (such as hitting the net or hitting out of bounds), try to hit the ball deeper into your opponent's court.
Hitting deeper serves has two advantages: it makes it harder for your opponent to return the ball, and it keeps them further away from where they want to be: right at the non-volley zone line (also known as the kitchen).
The non-volley zone line is a line that marks a 7-foot area on both sides of the net. Players are not allowed to hit the ball in this area unless it bounces first. This prevents players from smashing the ball at close range.
By hitting deeper serves, you can prevent your opponent from getting close to the net and dominating the rally.
5 – Don't aim too close to the edge
Even the best pickleball players don't expect their serve to land exactly where they want. It's very hard to control precisely where the ball lands, especially when playing outside.
Whether you're a beginner or a champion, it's better to be safe than sorry with your serve.
You should aim for a spot that's near the baseline but not too close that if you hit the ball slightly wrong, you won't go out of bounds.
6 – Stick to your routine
Next we have a very simple but important pickleball serving tip for you: stick to your routine! There's nothing wrong with serving from the same spot every time – especially if it's where you've practiced a lot. No two serves will ever be the same but keeping the things you can control consistent will help you build confidence in your game, which leads to better results.
7 – Don't try to ace your serve
When serving in pickleball, you only get one chance (literally!). Therefore, trying to ace your serve is not usually the best strategy. Even the pro pickleball players rarely try to ace their serves, so it's best to not even think about it. Instead of wasting your serve chance, focus on aiming for your target, hitting deep serves and using good technique. It will serve you much better!
8 – Practice Practice Practice
As Malcom Gladwell famously said, it takes around 10,000 hours to master something. And the only way to clock up those hours is with practice! Fortunately, you don't need to spend thousands of hours on pickleball to improve your serving technique. But a little bit of practice will definitely make a difference.
The more you practice your pickleball serve, the more confident you will be when it counts.
If you'd like to quickly rack up those practice hours and improve your pickleball skills, why not check in to a pickleball camp or clinic to get those hours in?
9 – Choose the Right Shoes
Shoes are important when playing pickleball. You should give just as much thought to finding the best pickleball shoes as you do to find the best pickleballs and the perfect pickleball paddle.
When playing pickleball, you need shoes that give you extra support so you can hold a strong stance while serving. Your shoes should also be lightweight and comfortable.
If you don’t already have a good pair of pickleball shoes, buying some will make a noticeable difference in your serving technique.
10 – Use your legs and core to serve
Even though most of the movement in your pickleball serve comes from your upper body, don’t ignore your legs and core.
Pickleball serves should be done using a relaxed arm swing and a smooth follow-through in front of your body, using your legs and core to generate more speed, power and stability when hitting the ball.
Having a stable core and taking an athletic stance with your legs before hitting the pickleball ball with an underhand serve will help you get the perfect serve.
11 – Pay attention to your feet
Another thing you should be aware of when serving is your feet.
You should always make sure to keep at least one foot on the ground when hitting the ball. This ensures that you are not moving backwards after making contact.
Remember: Neither foot should touch the court, either on or inside the baseline until the serve is done.
12 – Keep it simple
We know that all these pickleball serve tips might seem a bit complicated, but we promise it's not as hard as it looks!
And, if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, remember that simple is always better.
Your goal should be to simplify your serve by learning how to play without thinking about what you're doing so that it becomes natural.
A lot of serving is mental, so try to relax and keep it simple when in doubt.
13 – Vary your serves
While being consistent is important when starting out, more advanced players should aim to use different serves if they want to confuse their opponents.
As you get more confident and improve your serve technique, you can start to surprise your opponent by changing the speed, spin, direction, and depth of your shot.
Caution: It's best to take risks and use this pickleball serving tip when you're already ahead. Otherwise, you could lose your game.
14 – Choose a good pickleball paddle
An artist is only as good as his tools, and a pickleball player is only as good as his paddle.
There's no one size fits all when it comes to choosing a pickleball paddle. The best way to find one is to try out several and figure out which features are important to you.
15 – Add spin to your serve
Spin serves are, generally speaking, harder to return from the other side of the court. Therefore, mastering a spin serve can help you score points when it counts.
If you are a tennis player, this might be easier than for someone who is new to racket sports. Either way, make sure you choose a paddle that's good for spin to get the best serve possible.