How to Improve Your Pickleball Serve

How to Improve Your Pickleball Serve

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Pickleball serves are slow-moving, because the balls are perforated.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Named after the family pet, the game of pickleball was created during the summer of 1965 by Joel Pritchard, William Bell and Barney McCallum. Their objective was to design a game the whole family could play and enjoy during the lazy days of summer. One of the keys to being a good pickleballer is to use a variety of serves that you can do consistently well. If your serve needs a little work, the best way to improve it is to practice often and develop variety.


Learn and understand the technique rules before you practice your serve. The International Federation of Pickleball rules state that you must use an underhanded stroke when serving and the ball must be contacted before it bounces. Your hitting arm must swing upward in an arc and the head of your paddle must be below your waist when you contact the ball. Both feet must be behind the baseline and your feet can't touch the line or any part of the court inside the line until after contact.


Go to a pickleball court, take several balls and practice the mechanics of the stroke. Stand to the side of the centerline and about a foot behind the baseline with your front foot pointing toward your target, the service box diagonally cross court and on the opposite side of the net. For example, if you are standing to the right of the centerline, the target service box is cross court to your left. Hold your paddle so the head is pointing down toward the ground and the face of it is parallel to the net. Hold the ball in your non-hitting hand and extend your arm out toward the net so it is in line with your target.


Shift your weight onto your back foot as you take a short backswing. Release the ball from your hand and with a bowling motion, swing your hitting arm forward in an arc, low-to-high. Shift your weight onto your front foot and contact the ball below your waist with the face of your paddle parallel to the net or angled slightly upward. Keep the path of your swing straight along an imaginary line from the point of contact to your target. After you contact the ball, continue swinging your paddle forward toward your target.


Make adjustments to correct any errors. If your serve is going into the net, open up the face of the paddle and angle it upward. Also, avoid letting the ball drop too low before you hit it. If the ball is going too long, close the face of the paddle so it is more parallel to the net and contact the ball as close to waist high as possible. If your serve goes over the net but lands too short, keep your weight moving forward through the point of contact and follow through with your hitting arm extended out toward your target as far as possible.


Improve your serve by developing variety. Practice hitting deep serves to keep opponents who like to creep into the court back at the baseline. Practice hitting short serves for when you are playing against slower players. Stand toward the sideline of your service box and practice hitting serves with a sharp cross court angle to pull your opponent wide and off the court. Develop low, fast serves and slower, loopy serves to keep your opponents on their toes.

Things Needed

  • Pickleball court
  • Paddle
  • Pickleballs


  • Develop consistency instead of trying to serve aces. Unlike tennis, you only get one serve in pickleball. If you go for a big serve and make an error, you have lost your chance at scoring a point.


  • If you play during the summer on outdoor courts, be sure to hydrate several hours before your match and drink plenty of water during your match to avoid heat related issues such as cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Resources (1)

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images