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5 Different Types of Pickleball Serves

A senior citizen playing Pickleball outdoor.

Perhaps you have driven around communities and neighborhoods and seen people playing a sport that looks like tennis but is not quite tennis. If so, you have most likely witnessed Pickleball in action. Pickleball is easy to learn and start, which is one of the reasons why it has gained so much popularity. All you really need is a net, some paddles, and a ball.

However, there are some details needed to play the game well. One of the things you should learn is all of the types of serves possible in a Pickleball game. Continue reading to find out all you need to know.

Related To: Types of Pickleball Paddles | How are Pickleball Paddles Made? | How to Become a Pickleball Referee

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball paddle and ball on the court.

Pickleball is a sport that is fun for people of all ages and skills. It combines elements of ping-pong, tennis, and badminton. Pickleball can be played outside or inside on a court that is the size of a badminton court. It does use a tennis net that is modified.

You can play Pickleball as singles (two people) or doubles (four people). You use a plastic ball with holes and paddles to play the game. The rules are simple and easy to learn.

Types of Pickleball Serves

The serve is an important part of the Pickleball strategy because only the serving team can score. Serving sets the tone and flow of the game. It creates the opportunity for a volley and sets you up for a strong third shot. There are five different serves that you can use in Pickleball.

1. Power Serve

An old man with cap serving on a pickleball match.

The power serve goes by many different names, including the rip and the drive. The power serve is the easiest serve you can use. Once you learn it, just about anyone can use it. The intention of a power serve is a hard serve that is low and forces a quick reaction from your opponent.

When you want to use the power serve, your follow through is critical. First, you must have your body in the proper position so you can swing through the ball. Next, you must rotate your hips to finish ending with the paddle up by your opposite side ear. Many people tend to use too much of their wrists instead of the body. You want to maintain control because if you swat or flick the ball, it is harder to control.

During the power serve, you want to ensure that you remain relaxed. If you tense before you swing or have too tight of a grip, you could send the ball flying across the court where you do not want it to go. On the other hand, you do not want your grip to be too loose, either.

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With this type of serve, you can aim just about anywhere on the court. However, it would be best if you tried to serve to the weaker side of your opponent. This drives them out of their position and forces them to use a backhand shot. Unfortunately, many players have weak backhand shots.

There are some instances when the power serve is your best choice. These include when the opponent is playing in front of the baseline. If your opponent tends to lean left or right or likes to step forward toward the serve, this is a great serve option.

If you want to change the flow or timing of the game, this is a great way to mix it up. If you typically send a slow serve your opponent’s way, they will not be expecting this type of serve.

There is a disadvantage to this type of serve, which is you are giving your opponent the opportunity to hit back with an ever harder shot. You may not have enough time to position yourself for a third shot. When you are using this serve, you could hit it low and flat, which causes a net fault.

2. Centerline Serve

Two ladies playing pickle ball outdoor.

A centerline serve is not a typical serve that you will rely on most of the time. The centerline serve changes the angles for your opponent and puts them in a position to make moves they were not planning. To complete a centerline serve, you move your body closer to or on top of the centerline.

You must be careful not to go over the line. You swing your paddle as you would with a typical serve, but you bounce the ball inside the centerline of your opponent.

It takes time to master the centerline serve. It requires the swing of your hips and arms to create a strong centerline serve. The goal is to send the serve down the centerline and land it in the box.

The best time to use a centerline serve is when your opponent hugs the corner or plays in front of the baseline. If your opponent tends to move toward the corner as their first step, this is also a good serve to use.

One of the disadvantages is that you must do a good job lining up on the centerline. In general, this is an easy serve to use. However, you can make it more difficult by adding power or spin.

3. Kitchen Corner Serve

An old woman playing a serve on the court.

A kitchen corner serve allows you to hit the ball to the outside corner of your opponent’s kitchen. When you deliver a well place kitchen corner serve, your opponent has to create momentum, which takes them off the court. This puts you in a great position for a third shot if they can get the ball back over to you.

To accomplish this serve, you should stand at the far corner and hit the ball softly. The key is for the ball to drop just behind your opponent’s kitchen. Once it drops, it should continue moving away from its starting position. This serve requires a grip that is light and firm.

The best time to consider this serve is when your opponent is hovering over the centerline. Other times to use this serve is when you notice your opponent is having difficulty getting to the balls quickly. If your opponent like to play behind the baseline, this is also a good serve.

When you can make this serve work, it often gets you a quick point. Even when your opponent hits the ball, it puts them in a position for a weaker return giving you the chance of a great third shot.

This type of serve requires an exact touch. It would be best if you had the serve to be soft enough to land exactly where you want it to but hard enough to get over the net. It is easy to get a fault when using this serve. This serve requires a good amount of practice.

4. Lob Serve

An old man serving a ball on a pickleball match.

The lob serve has a few other names, including the sky serve, the high soft serve, the moon serve, and a few others. The goal with this serve is to hit it high and deep. The key is to frustrate your opponent. With this type of serve, you must put a large arc on the ball.

This causes your opponent to step back to hit it. To do this, you bring your paddle low and drive up through the ball to hit it. You must be careful to contact the ball when it is below your waist. That is a fault if you do not hit it until it is above your waist.

One of the great things about the lob serve is you can aim it anywhere as long as it is deep and high. Therefore, it would be best if you considered using this serve when you want to change up the game. For example, if you have an aggressive opponent that likes to move fast, this is a great way to frustrate them. Also, when your opponent is playing in front of the baseline, this is a good option.

This type of serve is soft and slow, which forces your opponent to put their power into returning it. They have to move back and wait for the bounce. When the bounce is high, it becomes awkward for your opponent to return. There are some disadvantages to using this type of serve.

It is easy to get a fault during the execution, especially if your swing is too late or the paddle is not low enough. Many Pickleball players used to play tennis, and this is a serve to which they are familiar. They can return it with no problem and ultimately make you regret using it.

5. Spinning Serve

An old man performing a spinning serve on a match.

The spinning serve is the most difficult one to learn and execute. You should also be aware that while there may be many different versions of the spin serve, they are not all legal. New ones are banned every year, so be sure the spin serve you want to use is legal before you give it a try.

The rules for 2022 state that a spin serve must be done with one hand and not two. A spin serve that is currently allowed is you toss the ball in the air while rotating it. It would be best if you hit the ball as it is falling below your waist.

When you are using a spin serve, it is critical to aim properly. First, you must understand how the ball is going to react once it bounces and reaches your opponent’s side of the court. It is possible that the ball may bounce toward or away from the opponent. The good news is there is no wrong place to aim your ball. The key is that the ball must land inside the lines during its first bounce.

The best time to use this type of serve is any time you want, provided you are proficient at the serve. For example, when you know your opponent is not skilled with returning a spin serve, that could be a good time to use it.

This type of serve can frustrate your opponent and keep them on their toes. When you notice that your opponent leans to one side of the box over the other, you can use this serve.

There are many benefits to a spin serve, including that it can force your opponent into an uncomfortable position. The ball can bounce unexpectedly as it hits the turf, to which your opponent must respond. Even if your opponent is able to connect with the ball, it may not be a good return.

On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to this type of serve, including that it is difficult to become proficient. This serve takes a large amount of practice and is difficult.