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How to Determine Who Serves First in Pickleball

A man with long cap preparing to make a service.

Before serving in pickleball, the score will be called, starting with the points of the serving team, followed by the points of the remaining team and followed by the server number of the partners. Both members of the pair will serve until they lose a point, before the serve changes sides, except for the first serve of the match, which will be considered as served by server 2.

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The Service Attempt

A hairy old man holding a pickleball paddle and ball.

Only one service attempt is awarded. If there is a fault in this, the service will go to the next player. At the moment of the serve:

  • At least one foot must be on the ground behind the bottom line that delimits the track.
  • No foot of the server may be inside the playing court or invading the imaginary lines that would be the continuation of the bottom line and the center line of the court.
  • If in a wheelchair, the wheelchair of the server must have the two rear wheels behind the bottom line and without invading the imaginary lines.

The Technique

An old woman making a service out of the court.

In the traditional pickleball serve (without bounce), the racket has to hit the ball below the waist, that is, the arm must make an upward movement and the part of the racket with which the ball is hit must be below the waist. of the wrist when it comes into contact with it.

In the bounce serve (currently listed as “provisional”  in the rulebook), the ball is dropped (without being thrown in any direction), and hit after it has bounced anywhere on the playing surface (in or out). track). There are no rules related to the movement or position of the hand in the hit and in any case, those related to the traditional serve do not apply.

The Direction of the Serve

A pickleball player making a service.

The service will be valid if, once it has passed or hit the net, the ball bounces in the diagonally opposite service field.

  • If the ball bounces on any of the sidelines, central lines or back lines of the service field, it will be a valid service; however, if it touches the no-volley zone line, it will be considered a foul.
  • In the event that once the ball has passed or hit the net, and before bouncing, the ball touches a member of the remaining couple, the serving team will add one point.

Position of the Field of Play

A vector illustration of people playing pickleball.

The position of each player, whether serving or receiving, will be determined by the match score at that time and based on where they were at the start of the match. Every time the service changes sides, server 1 will be the one who will serve from the right side of the field.

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The person who serves will continue to serve until they lose the point. As long as the serve is maintained, the position on the field will be varied, each time serving from one side of the court. The remaining pair will not change position on the field.

The Score

Live scoring system for pickleball matches.

Only the serving team can score points. It is usually played to 11 points with a difference of 2, that is, if both sides are tied at 10, the game will continue until one team wins by 2 points.

Points are scored on winning hits or if the remaining team fouls. The serving team must call the score before serving. For example, Juan gets ready to serve and shouts “3 – 1 – 2!” so that his rival can hear him and thus be able to better remember the score and indicate where to position himself on the track.

  1. because Juan’s team scored 3 points.
  2. because the opposing team has 1 point.
  3. because Juan is the second server of the couple in this round of serves in his court.

If Juan forgets to call the result, the rival team can stop the ball or let it pass so that the serve is repeated or continue playing normally.


The key is to focus on the game and enjoy every minute of it, including the serve. Once you get a knack of it, you will want to play pickleball over and over again.