Pickleball Serving Rules - Ultimate Beginner's Guide

by Kristina Tamas on June 16, 2023

Are you new to pickleball and wondering about the serving rules? Serving is one of the most important aspects of the game, and understanding the pickleball serving rules is crucial for every beginner player.

In this ultimate beginner's guide, we will cover all the basic rules of pickleball serving. Whether you're playing singles or doubles, the serving team has a significant advantage in the game. So, let's dive in and explore the world of pickleball serving rules!

Pickleball Player Holds Pickleball Paddle and Ball

Pickleball Serve Rules

In pickleball, the serve always begins from the right-hand side of the court. The serving team is determined by a coin toss, and the serving team's score is always the first one mentioned.

The serving team must follow some pickleball serving rules, such as standing behind the baseline and having at least one foot inside the court.

Once the serving team is ready, the server must hit the ball underhand and diagonally across the court, aiming for the opposite service court. The ball must be served in the air and not bounce before clearing the non-volley zone. The non-volley zone (pickleball kitchen) is the area within seven feet from the net on either side of the court.

Only One Serve Attempt

In pickleball, there is only one serve attempt per point. If the serve goes out of bounds or hits the net and lands in the non-volley zone, it is considered as a fault, and the serving team loses the point. If the serve hits the net and goes over the net, it is called a let serve, and the server gets another chance.

Drop Serve

The pickleball drop serve is one of the most popular serving techniques in pickleball. It involves hitting the ball softly so that it drops over the net and lands in the non-volley zone. This type of serve can be challenging to return because it requires the receiving team to hit the ball while standing close to the net, which limits their options. The pickleball drop serve is a versatile serve that can be used to keep opponents deep in the court, giving them less time to react. Players must use a consistent and smooth serving motion when performing a drop serve, ensuring that the ball lands in the correct spot. By mastering the drop serves, players can gain an advantage on the court and keep their serving game unpredictable.

Volley Serve

The traditional pickleball volley serve is an effective serving technique in pickleball that involves hitting the ball out of the air before it bounces. This can catch the receiving team off guard, giving the serving team an advantage. To execute a successful pickleball volley serve, the server needs to be in a good position near the non-volley zone and hit the ball at the highest point possible. However, the volley serve can be risky, and beginner players should stick to traditional or drop serves until they have mastered the basics. It's also important to follow all the rules and be aware of the double bounce rule and the requirement to keep at least one foot behind the baseline while serving.

Illegal Serve

If the server breaks any of the pickleball serving rules, such as serving out of turn or not hitting the ball underhand, it is considered illegal, and the serving team loses the point. Another illegal pickleball serve is hitting the ball into the net or serving it into the wrong service court.

Woman Returning the Service in Pickleball

Double Bounce Rule

Once the serve is in play, both teams must follow the double bounce rule. This means that the receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning it, and the serving team must also let the ball bounce once after their return. After the ball has bounced twice, both teams can hit the ball out of the air.

Legal Serve

A legal pickleball serve is a fundamental aspect of the game that every player should understand. To execute a legal serve, the ball must be hit underhand, diagonally across the court, and aimed at the opposite service court. The serve must also clear the net and land in the correct service court without touching the net or any part of the non-volley zone. Failing to meet any of these criteria results in an illegal serve, which can result in a lost point for the serving team. It's crucial to understand the legal pickleball serve rules and follow them during play to avoid penalties and maintain the serving team's advantage.

Woman is Serving in the Pickleball Game

Tips & Tricks for Beginners

If you're a beginner looking to take your pickleball game to the next level, here are some tips and tricks to get you started. First, make sure you understand the basic pickleball rules, including aiming to the diagonally opposite service court and the double bounce rule. Focus on improving your pickleball serves, as a strong serve can set the tone for the entire game. Practice serving from different positions on the court and using different types of serves, such as a spin serve or drop serve. Take time to explore different ways of how to hold pickleball paddle and which grip suits you the best. Finally, don't be afraid to get out there on the pickleball court and play!

Check more pickleball tips for beginners and remember - The more you play, the more you'll learn about the game, and the better you'll become.