Pickleball Serving Rules Made Simple

Pickleball Serving Rules Made Simple

Pickleball serves are just like snowflakes, no two are identical. But, they all have to follow the rules set by USA Pickleball. Haven’t read the 86-page rulebook? No worries — we’ve got you covered with these easy-to-follow serving rules.

Where do I stand?

Make sure both feet start behind the backline, also known as the baseline, before you serve. While serving, one foot can hover over the baseline, but make sure the other foot is on the ground behind the line when you strike the ball.

How do I have to hit the ball?

You have to use an underhand motion and make contact below your waist. 

A forehand serve is the most traditional choice by players, but backhand serves are also allowed.

The most popular serve is the volley serve, where you hit the ball before it touches the ground. You can also try a drop serve by letting the ball bounce before hitting it. If you choose to drop serve, you can hit the ball any way you like, ignoring the underhand motion and below-the-waist rule.

Just remember this crucial rule for drop serving: you can't throw the ball off the ground. You have to drop the ball, not bounce it. 

Where does my serve have to land on the court?

Where should your serve land on the court? Your serve must go diagonally across the court and land beyond the kitchen line. If it hits the kitchen line, you lose the serve. If it hits any other line - the baseline, sideline, or centerline - it's in!

Can I spin the ball?

You cannot put any spin on the ball before you hit it. However, you can spin the ball while hitting it, as long as you follow the other service rules of using an upward motion and making contact below your waist.

What if I hit the net on my serve?

A serve that hits the net and lands in the appropriate area of the court is called a “let.” Treat lets with the same service rules. For instance, if the ball hits the net and lands in the appropriate area of the court, you play the point as usual. But if the ball hits the net and lands out of bounds, you lose the serve. 

Important note: Different leagues treat lets differently. For tournament play, be sure to know the rules around lets before you start.