You only score points when your team serves. That's why when you improve your Pickleball serve, you can drastically improve your chances at scoring more points, faster. Here are some tips we've compiled from top Pickleball experts:
1. Pre-Service Routine
Creating a consistent pre-service routine for your Pickleball serve is essential. This technique is common in all sports - such as basketball. Prior to a free throw in basketball, players are taught to take a deep breath, bounce the ball a few times, and then shoot the ball. In Pickleball, try to find your favorite place to serve the ball from both sides of the court. Then create a physical routine prior to your serve. That just might be taking a deep breath, bouncing the ball a few times. then serving.
2. Service Variety
Changing the speed, height and location of your serves will keep your opponent off guessing. Plus, you’ll get practice trying different types of serves. If you're new to Pickleball, it is probably best to learn how to get your serve in first, then try different types of serves. Editorial Note: When the game points are close - and you’re nearing the end of the match - just get the serve 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 are 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 the ball before you’re ready. Don’t fall victim to distractions! It's okay to pause before serving when you’re trying to call the right score, or when there are balls flying on to your court, or the other team talks during your serve. By rule, you have 10 seconds to serve once the receiving team is set. So take your time!
Editorial Note: 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. Where you 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.
Editorial Note: 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 Opponents Level
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. Just 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 trying something new in Pickleball.
7. The Back-Line
As you get more advanced with your serves, you can attempt to serve more towards your opponent’s backline. This helps keep them back and away from the kitchen. Making your drop shot more effective. 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 it's usually best to aim for shots about 2-3 feet in front of the backline or the corner is still a good strategy. When you're up in points, it's a feasible time to get some backline serve practice in.
8. Factor in the Wind
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 is similar to golf, where prior to each stroke you'd consider the wind speed and direction.
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!
What are some of your tips for improving the serve? Tell us in the comments below: