Improving the accuracy of your pickleball serve can dramatically improve your pickleball game. The serve is one of the most important aspects of the game, as it gives you the chance to gain an advantage.
Unlike the volley, your pickleball serve is not influenced by your opponent. You have complete control of the ball if you can serve accurately.
Use the following guide on how to serve in pickleball and improve your accuracy.
How Do You Serve in Pickleball?
Before trying to perfect your serve, you should ensure that you understand the basics of a good pickleball serve. The ball is served diagonally to the opposite service court and must clear the non-volley zone on the other side of the net.
The server must stand with both feet behind the backline. Serves are made with an underhand swing while contacting the ball below the waistline.
The ball is traditionally tossed underhand with your non-paddle hand. You hit the ball after it bounces off the court in front of your feet.
As of January 25, 2021, the official rules allow you to perform a drop serve. Instead of tossing the ball up and letting it bounce, you drop the ball from above your head and wait for it to bounce. Whether you perform a toss serve or a drop serve, the ball should bounce out in front of your body. Check out this video from PrimeTime Pickleball to learn more about pickleball hitting techniques.
Tips for Improving Your Pickleball Serving Strategies
After learning the basics of a pickleball serve, start performing drills to gain more control of the ball. You can practice drills anywhere. You just need a paddle and a ball to practice pickleball serving drills.
Along with frequent practice and drills, use the remaining pickleball serving tips to start improving your pickleball hitting techniques.
Take a Deep Breath and Visualize Your Target
The first step in an accurate serve is to take a deep breath. You want to be prepared to return the volley after your opponent hits the ball.
Visualize where you want the ball to go as you take a deep breath. Picture the trajectory of the ball and imagine it landing exactly where you intend.
Create a Pre-Serve Routine
Start your pickleball serve with a pre-serve routine, which often includes calling out the score. Calling out the score is considered good etiquette, as it is easy to forget the score.
Every routine is different. Your routine may involve checking your grip and stance or performing a practice swing. The goal is to perform the same series of actions each time to help with concentration and consistency.
Use Your Shoulder to Generate Power
Most of the power from your swing should come from your shoulder instead of your biceps and triceps. Many pickleball players also tend to bend their elbows or flick their wrists to power the swing. Using your wrist and arm to power the pickleball serve increases the risk of inconsistencies.
Picture your arm swinging from your shoulder like a pendulum. The overall motion should be loose instead of stiff. Keep your arm fluid as you bring it back and start your pickleball serve.
Along with your shoulders, you can generate power from your legs, hips, and core muscles. However, you should avoid adding too much speed to your pickleball serve until you are happy with your accuracy.
Follow Through with Your Swing
Follow-through is important in any ball sport. Following through with your swing helps increase your accuracy as you help direct the ball where you want it to go.
Your swing determines the trajectory of the ball. Maintaining contact with the ball as you complete your swing sends it in the right direction. The follow-through also gives you a chance to analyze your serve. You can get a better sense of whether you need to adjust your stance or the angle of the paddle.
Maintain a Semi-Closed Stance
Your stance should be semi-closed, which involves standing with your body partially open to the opposite service box. Do not stand completely perpendicular to the court. You want to be able to see the opposite corner.
Maintaining a semi-closed stance also helps you control your backswing. Standing sideways or with an open stance forces you to bring your swing back further, which adds power and decreases accuracy.
Avoid Over-Rotating Your Backswing
You may be tempted to bring your backswing far behind your back. Over-rotating leads to less accuracy as you have less control of the direction of your swing when the paddle contacts the ball. You are also more likely to gain unnecessary momentum that may force you to step over the line.
Avoid bringing your paddle too far back. A small backswing helps you maintain control of the ball and your stance.
How to Keep the Ball Low in Pickleball
Certain pickleball hitting techniques, such as pickleball serve spin and hitting low, require experience. Attempting to add spin or keep the ball low limits your accuracy.
As you improve your pickleball serving abilities, you can begin working on some of these additional techniques. Adding spin is difficult but can make your pickleball serve more of a challenge for your opponent.
To apply topspin, you need to hit the ball with a low to high strike on the paddle. Applying backspin requires a high to low strike. You can also apply a little left or right spin by swiping the ball in the direction that you want it to go.
Along with adding spin, you can attempt to keep the ball low by adjusting the angle of your paddle. If your paddle is angled upward, the ball will travel with an upward trajectory. Try to keep your paddle at more of a vertical angle as you contact the ball.
The key to a successful pickleball serve is to start slowly. Master the basics of the pickleball serve before working on adding spin or hitting lower. Continue to perform pickleball serving drills whenever you have the time available. You should also work on your pre-serve routine to keep yourself focused.
As a final suggestion, avoid running forward after serving in pickleball. Wait for the return to give yourself more space for your swing. If you run forward, your next shot may become more difficult.