Pickleball can be described as a game quite similar to tennis and table tennis played in a badminton court. Moreover, much like its similar sports, it also requires a service to start a game. If you’re a first-time player, your game serve should be your main priority. Read on and for helpful tips and tricks to get that perfect pickleball
How Pickleball Works
You need to have different pickleball paddles and a Wiffle-like plastic ball to start a game. Pickleball has singles (one-on-one) or doubles (two-on-two) variations. The game will begin with the serving team. It’s essential to note that the serving team or player is the only one that can score in a rally. The match will end when a team scored a total of 11 points with a two points difference to their opponents. In the case where a team reaches 11, but the point difference is only 1, the game will continue until a team leads by two points.
Here are mistakes that players can commit during a match:
- Not serving the ball diagonally to your opponent’s court
- Serving the ball into the net
- Failure of the opponent to return the ball
- Hitting on the ball’s second bounce
- Volleying in the non-volley area
- Running the ball outside of the dimensions
The Pickleball Serve
One essential thing to practice in Pickleball is service. Without it, there are no plays and rallies that will happen in a match. Some players will also say that the pickleball serve is the first line of attack, so beginners need to practice their service. There are a few rules that players need to know to prevent committing service errors. First, the only allowed serves are underhand serves.
Furthermore, players need to strike the ball during service at a level below their waist. Servers must not step on the baseline during service, and the pickleball serve must not hit the non-volley area lines. If servers commit these errors, the play will end, and the opponent will serve afterward.
The services are crucial to every Pickleball match. Here are some tips on how to improve your serving skills and how to perfectly pickleball serve every game:
1. Pre-serve Routine
Serving in a Pickleball match requires a lot of mental and physical concentration. It’s advisable for players, especially beginners, to make their pre-service routine before doing a serve. The pre-service method can include anything that will calm your nerves. Try these routine pre-service suggestions:
- Taking a deep breath and forgetting the previous plays.
- Spin the ball before hitting it.
- Bounce the ball to the floor before serving.
- Stare at the ball.
- Swing your arms with the paddle.
- Practice your aim on which way or direction to serve.
2. Aim your target
For beginners, try targeting the middle area of your opponent’s court when serving. Professionals and other players work to serve in the corners of their opponent court to score a point. However, beginners should not think that serves are for scoring only, so they should make sure to serve the ball to the other side.
Try practicing your target when you are in court. You can place a plastic bottle on the location you want to target and try to aim that object. In this manner, you will have your authentic serve that focuses on a specific area to confuse your opponent.
3. Know your court
Aside from aiming, you also need to make sure that you know your court well to your advantage. Here’s a break down of where you should aim your pickleball serve:
Middle area: Common for beginners to aim the ball. It is also the safest area to serve the ball and to not commit a fault.
Backline: The end and corners of your opponent court is a great spot to target. Doing so will confuse your opponent whether he or she will get the ball.
Area slightly beyond the “kitchen”: The “kitchen” or non-volley area is a spot where you cannot target. However, somewhat beyond that is an area that players opt to serve the ball.
4. Right Form of your Body
To hit an effective pickleball serve, you need to have the proper form of your body. This trick also reminds you that you cannot step on the baseline of the court during service. You need to take into considerations these tips to correct your body form during serves.
- Put weight on your back foot and swing your arm to hit the ball to improve your service efficiency.
- You need to make your pickleball serve grip firm and strong to improve service power.
- Do not lean forward during service since it will cause you to lose accuracy and consistency.
5. Serve deep in your opponent’s court
This trick is one of the most strategical tips to use in Pickleball matches. Pickleball serves that aims the deepest area of your opponent’s court is fundamental in any game. Here the advantages of using this strategy:
- Hitting it farther in the back makes it difficult for your rival to return the ball to you.
- It will prevent the player from marching forward into the net. In pickleball matches, an effective pickleball serve means making it difficult for your opponent to return fast to the net.
- Aiming at the baseline have the chance to score a point. Sometimes, players will not return the ball if it was going long and deep. In most cases, the ball will drop at the line, which will give you a score.
However, this trick has a few disadvantages as well.
- It requires a lot of practice. Targeting deep on the court is difficult as it may take time and effort and.
- Long serves have the chance to go outside the court.
Nonetheless, deep serves have been an essential technique and players efficiently used this during matches.
6. Serve to your rival’s weak side
Observing your opponents move inside the court will allow you to determine their weak side. Your opponent may have a powerful forehand or backhand hits that makes it difficult for you to return the ball. A strong forehand or backhand hits may give you the idea that the opposite hits are not that strong. If your opponent hits mostly with a forehand, try to do a pickleball serve that targets are that will force them to hit with a backhand. However, like serving deep, this trick requires a lot of practice to be able to do it efficiently.
7. Use Special Serves
There are a lot of serves to use in a pickleball match. These services use techniques to increase the difficulty of returning the ball. Here are some methods to use:
- Spin serves. Spin serves are the most interesting one to do in a game. You will put a spin on the ball before hitting it for service. You need to target the area slightly beyond the non-volley zone, and the ball will bounce depending on your pickleball serve spin. This technique will confuse your opponent to what direction will the ball go.
- Drop serves. This strategy targets the back line of the court. Pickleball Lob serves, or drop serves aim the end line by giving the ball high and soft. This kind of service is what professionals call a “placement serve” since you are placing the ball to the end court.
- Power Serves. Pickleball power serves also target the end of the court. You need to practice aiming the back line of the court before trying these service techniques. Power serves even target deep in the court but with more power and less arch. Compared to pickleball lob serves, power serves don’t hit the ball high but closer to the net. Sometimes, players include a spin to the serve to make it more difficult to return.
These techniques will not guarantee you to score a point by service ace or by your opponent’s fault. Moreover, you need to practice these serves appropriately to avoid getting faults.
8. Vary your services
You can use all different kind of serves in a match, but the trick is not to use them continuously. You need to vary your services to confuse your opponent. Using the same kind of serves consistently will allow your opponent to guess and to return it properly. Do not let your opponent get used to your serves.
Players commonly use a drop or lob service technique, then surprises their opponent by serving a ball with a pickleball serve spin. Pickleball players also opt to do an average serve and use their specialty afterward.
Keep In Mind
Improving your serving skills is an advantage if you want to play Pickleball regularly or professionally. Take these tips as a guide to increase your efficiency in serving. Keep in mind to form your body in the right position to give a powerful hit. Before serving, calm your nerves and strategize where to aim the ball and what kind of service you will do. Create variation throughout the match to confuse your opponent.
But most importantly, enjoy your match! Pickleball is a great sport to play and winning or losing a game will teach you a lesson to use for your next matches. With these tricks, take pride in your service and give it your best shot during your turn to pickleball serve.