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How to Serve in Pickleball

An old woman preparing to serve on a pickleball match.

Everyone knows about the major sports, like soccer, basketball, baseball, football, tennis, etc. But have you heard of pickleball? Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States. The sport is a combination of tennis, ping pong and badminton. It is a social sport thanks to the small court.

However, don’t think that the size of the court diminishes the competitiveness and the ability to efficiently serve the ball and win.

What is pickleball?

Group of friends playing pickleball together.

This sport has been listed as one of the most promising and fastest growing in both the United States and Mexico. For those who have never heard of it, or who simply want to review the rules of the game, you need to know what it is and how to play it including your serve. It is played on a court the size of badminton.

This should give you an idea of the space you have to hit the ball and maneuver around the court.

Deciding the serve

A senior citizen preparing to make a serve on a pickleball match.

Start a game by deciding who serves first. The player on the right side of the court will either serve underhand or drop cross serve to start a rally. The serve must go across the court and not land in the no-volley zone or cook line. Players cannot volley from the net and cannot run into him when volleying.

Players may be on the line to hit the ball (but not pass it). Players can also hit the ball after it bounces off the net.

Which are the rules?

There is a two-rebound rule; the serve and return must bounce at the beginning of the rally and then continue with a single bounce. The rally continues until someone commits a “foul”. For example, double bounce, someone hits the pickleball out of bounds or into the net. All shots on the court or on the lines are “in.”

Players must yell “out” when the ball hits outside the court lines. They can only score if they are the team that served. If the serving team wins the rally, they get a point. Then they will switch sides and the same server will serve in the opposite direction.

The Serving Team

Women having a blast in playing pickleball.

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The match is played until 11 points, and they need 2 points difference to win. What happens when the serving team doesn’t score? If the serving team loses the rally, everyone stays, and the serve goes to the next player.

If the serve moves to the other side of the court, it is considered an “outside”. That’s when the player on the right side will start serving for the other team. If they are playing single player pickleball, you will serve to the right for even scores and to the left for odd scores.

The Players

Pickleball players greeting each other before the match.

Pickleball can be played like tennis: singles or doubles, although this second option is the most popular. The rules are the same for both options, but in pairs. Players have to follow a particular order of serve. In the individual game, the entire court is used, and in the doubles game, it is usually played much closer to the net, almost always just behind the line of the No Volley Zone.

The Hits

A woman giving her best in playing pickleball.

As in tennis, there are different shots in pickleball: short, long, crossed, direct, etc. Some blows are aggressive, to attack the opponent, others are to defend against an offensive blow from the opponent. All plays begin with the serve, which has its own rules, but then each player uses more or fewer strokes depending on his level and experience and the circumstances of the game.

High-level or competitive players master many more strokes and variations than amateur players. Everyone can make up their own shots as long as they respect the rules of the game: hit the ball only with the paddle (the flat part), not with your hand or the shaft.