Here’s everything you need to know about HOW TO improve your Pickleball serve.
1. Service Routine: Creating a consistent routine for your Pickleball serve is essential. All coaches teach this in basketball when you’re shooting free throws. (ex. 3 Bounces, Find a spot for feet, Bend Your Knees, Deep Breath, Shoot) Try to find your favorite place to SERVE the ball from both sides of the court. Then create a physical and mental routine and stick to it from that same location every single time on both sides of the court. ;)
2. Service Variety: Changing the speed, height and location of your serves will keep your opponent off balance -- plus, you’ll get practice trying different types of serves. If you're new to Pickleball, probably best to learn how to get your serve in first, then try different types of serves. Editorial Note: When the game is close, and you’re nearing the end of the match - go with a service style you KNOW you can get in as opposed to trying to score a point for your team. Especially if you are the LOWER LEVEL player between you and your partner.
3. Eyes on the ball: Make sure to keep your EYES on the ball during your service swing by focusing on the ball hitting the paddle in the SWEET SPOT. This one sounds obvious, but so many players get in a rush and forget to watch the ball hit the paddle. As you get more advanced, more leeway is fine. But when you're first getting started, seeing the ball hit the paddle is your best bet for getting it over.
4. Slow It Down, literally: Sometimes you’ll feel pressure to SERVE before you’re ready. Don’t fall victim to distractions! Whether you’re trying to call the right score, balls flying on to your court, or the other team (or even your partner) talking during your serve -- make sure to SLOW IT DOWN. By rule, you have 10 seconds once the receiving team is set. So take your time! ONE MORE THING: Don’t say the score and serve at the same time. Saying the score while serving at the same time will likely lead to an error and is not fair to the other team, either.
5. Left Serve vs Right Serve: Make sure you understand the differences of HOW and WHERE you serve the ball on the RIGHT side vs. the LEFT side of the court. And make sure to evaluate if the player you are serving the ball to is left-handed or right-handed. So as the game progresses, start to optimize your SERVES and the location as you figure out their weaknesses. CAVEAT: Don’t try to get too cute and overplay their shortcomings. It’s more important to get your serve in than to exploit one potential weakness of your opponent.
6. Understanding Your Opponent’s Level(s): More often than not, you’ll be playing against a team that has TWO levels of players. If you’re serving towards the higher level player, try and get your serve in without error. I.e., get it over Now, If you’re hitting towards the lower level player, it’s okay to attempt a riskier serve in hopes of scoring a point on them. In general, getting your serve in is always the most important, especially if you’re the lower level player on your team. But understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents is suitable for serving and pickleball in general.
7. The Back-Line: As you get more ADVANCED with your serves, you can attempt to serve more towards your opponent’s backline. It’s risky to hit backline serves in recreational play as the ball can smoothly go out, or a close call can be called out by your opponent. So best to aim for shots about 2-3 feet in front of the backline or corner is still a good strategy. Albeit with little room for error but it’s good to get the practice in, especially when you’re up in points.
8. Wind is a Factor (Outdoor games only): If you’re playing outdoors, make sure you evaluate the wind conditions before and during the game -- especially if you change sides during the match or after a game. The wind can change directions, increase the velocity of the ball, and your serve -- all of which can impact the speed and location of the Pickleball. This may all sound obvious, but this goes back to slowing down before your service and evaluating all distractions, including big wind gusts, when you’re playing indoors.
As you know, practice and technique are equally important when it comes to your Pickleball serve. But hopefully, some of these TIPS and TRICKS will help decrease your service errors and establish a system to optimize your service % and score more points!
Please tell us what you think below in the comments section!