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How to Serve a Pickleball: Rules and Tips

Serving is one of the most important skills in pickleball, as it sets up each point. It’s also one of the easier techniques to learn and master. With a few simple rules and tips, you can quickly take your serving game to the next level!

The USA Pickleball Association defines the official rules for the pickleball serve that all players must follow.

In this article, we will explore these rules in detail and provide some helpful tips on how to serve a pickleball successfully and consistently in your next pickleball game!

Pickleball Game Overview

Pickleball has been gaining in popularity for years, and with good reason. It’s a simple game to learn and get started playing, but it still provides plenty of challenges for experienced players.

The combination of elements from tennis, badminton, and ping pong keeps the game interesting and can be played both indoors and outdoors, so there’s lots of fun any time of year.

Best of all, pickleball is becoming an increasingly popular sport because it’s accessible to basically everyone no matter your age or skill level; even beginners can have a blast getting outside and playing in competitive matches against friends!

Pickleball combines some of the best aspects of other sports into a compact activity that packs lots of action into a small court!

Importance of the Pickleball Serve

Serving in pickleball brings intense, competitive fun to the sport. It’s also a key pickleball skill for all players to acquire in order to succeed. The serve in pickleball determines the match’s momentum and has the potential to put opponents at a disadvantage if you deliver it at the right angle with enough power and precision.

When serving consistently and strategically, you can set up scoring plays and break your opponent’s defense by taking control of the game. Although serving may be intimidating at first, practice and dedication will have you dominating your opponent from the start of every volley!

You can also read more about the best pickleball paddles on the market so that you can find the perfect fit for your serving strategy.

Basic Pickleball Serving Rules

Pickleball is a fun and exciting game to play, but when you’re ready to get serious about competing you’ll want to be sure that your serve follows the specific pickleball serving rules created by the USA Pickleball Organization.

If you’re a pickleball enthusiast, then you have probably already heard of the USA Pickleball organization, the go-to place for all the latest information and rules.

Following these serving rules helps keep the game fair and allows all players to compete on an equal playing field no matter their skill level. So read on and then sharpen up those skills and brush up on your serves!

Upward Arc of Server’s Arm  

The USA Pickleball organization has established a clear rule on how to properly serve the ball, the player must ensure that his or her arm is moving in an upward arc when striking the ball.

Not having this rule in place would make serving too easy, with no challenge or finesse required. Not only that, but pickleball serving rules like this ensure that no team has an unfair advantage!

Paddle Contact with Ball  

Paddle contact with the ball must not be made above the waist level when it comes to the pickleball serve. This means no clouds of dust from smashing shoulder-height shots! 

While this requirement can take some getting used to for beginners, following it effectively leads to more enjoyable games overall as each player gets more comfortable. 

Height of Paddle at Contact  

During a pickleball serve, contact should be made with the paddle head no higher than the highest part of the wrist. Many players fail to follow this rule when they’re trying to hit a more powerful serve, so it’s important to pay attention to your paddle height when serving.

Drop Serve  

The USA Pickleball organization added a provisional rule in early 2021 that allows players to utilize the drop serve. When you serve, you can drop the ball from whatever height you decide before hitting it, but for it to be considered legal you cannot throw, toss, or do anything else that adds extra force to make it bounce.

This new drop serve rule brings a little bit of creativity and excitement into the game for both defenders and attackers by letting them come up with some new intuitive strategies of play.

Diagonal Crosscourt Serve 

According to the rule book, each pickleballer must serve from the opposite baseline diagonally across the court to their opponent’s court. The imaginary extension of the pickleball court sidelines and center line have also been set as a boundary for where each pickleballer can stand while serving.

Foot Placement of Server  

The USA Pickleball organization has a strict rule about foot placement while serving. As the ball is hit, at least one foot must remain behind the baseline – and no part of the foot can touch beyond the imaginary extensions of the sidelines or center line.

Only One Serve Attempt 

Pickleball has a rule unlike tennis when it comes to serving. Tennis allows the server two attempts to get the ball in play but Pickleball only allows one attempt per server. This rule can make it more challenging since the pickleball serve won’t always be perfect on the first try.

Fortunately, this makes it exciting by adding an extra element of pressure and difficulty during a game. This adds to the challenge level that many players crave and also encourages them to practice their technique even more in order to perfect their serve.

If you’d like to read more about the official pickleball rules you can check out this article from the USA Pickleball website!

Pickleball Serving Technique: Step-by-Step Guide

Stance: Correct body positioning

Having the correct stance when serving a pickleball is essential for setting up a successful serve. In order to have an athletic stance, make sure your feet are shoulder width apart and that you have a slight bend in your knees.

Your weight should be evenly distributed between both feet and your shoulders should be level with each other. It is important to keep your body relaxed and to maintain balance during the entire pickleball serving motion.

Additionally, make sure to keep your eyes focused on the ball throughout the entire serve motion. By paying attention to these tips, you can ensure that you have the best possible stance for a great pickleball serve.

Grip: How to Hold the Paddle and the Ball

A key pickleball serving technique is having the right grip on your paddle. The three most common grips used in pickleball are the eastern, western, and continental grips.

When serving you’re most likely to use a neutral grip like the eastern grip or a grip that favors the forehand shot like the western grip.

Check it this other post of mine if you want to learn more about the different ways to grip a pickleball paddle.

Swing: Smooth and Controlled Movement

Serving a pickleball requires more than just knowing the rules and regulations. It also requires a smooth, controlled swing that is relaxed and comfortable. You don’t want to rush your swing or put too much power into it.

Instead, focus on making sure you have a smooth, controlled movement when you’re serving. Especially as a beginner, this will help you get the ball in play without overhitting it or sending it out of bounds.

With practice and patience, you can work on establishing a consistent serve!

Practice Tip: Focus on Clearing the Net and Kitchen Area

When serving a pickleball, one of the most important things to focus on is clearing the net and kitchen area. The kitchen in pickleball is the area closest to the net, so your serve must clear this area.

To do this, you should aim for a spot just beyond the kitchen line. Additionally, make sure you have good follow-through with your serve so that you can get enough power behind your shot.

With enough practice and focus on clearing the net and kitchen area, you’ll end up with a powerful and consistent serve that will make the game a lot more fun!

Recap of Key Points


  • The server must move the arm in an upward arc when striking the ball
  • Paddle contact with the ball must not be made above waist level
  • Contact should be made with the paddle head no higher than the highest part of wrist
  • Drop serve is allowed, but player cannot throw, toss or add extra force to it
  • A pickleball serve must come from opposite baseline diagonally across court to opponent’s court
  • At least one foot must remain behind the baseline while serving and no part of foot can touch beyond imaginary extensions of sidelines or center line
  • Unlike the other boundary lines, you cannot hit the kitchen line
  • Only one attempt is allowed for each server in Pickleball


  • Start with a stable stance, with your feet and shoulders level
  • Use the eastern grip for beginners and the western or continental grips for more experienced players
  • Swing smoothly and calmly with good follow-through
  • Focus on clearing the net and kitchen area when serving
  • Set aside time for pickleball serving drills, practicing both short and deep serves

Final Thoughts on Serving a Pickleball  

Serving a pickleball can be challenging, especially as a beginner. But with the right knowledge and practice, you can easily improve your serve and become more confident in your game.

Start with these basic rules—upward arm movement, paddle contact no higher than the waist, wrist above paddle at contact—and you’ll avoid an illegal serve. Always practice with smooth, relaxed swings aimed at clearing the net and kitchen area.

Once you master the tips and rules above you’ll be ready to take your game to the next level by focusing more on pickleball serving strategy!

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