Sport Rulebook

Mastering the Serve: Rules and Techniques of Pickleball Serving

Serving is an essential aspect of pickleball, a sport that is gaining popularity all over the world. Whether you are looking to take up pickleball as a hobby or wanting to compete at a higher level, understanding the rules and techniques for serving is critical for success.

1) Pickleball Serving Rules

1a) Who Serves First? The serving order in pickleball is determined at the start of the game through a coin toss or spin of a paddle.

The winner of the toss/spin can decide to serve or receive the ball first or choose the side of the court they want to start on. In doubles play, the serving order is determined based on which side wins the first rally.

1b) Where Do You Serve? In pickleball, the serve must be delivered from an area behind the baseline.

The service area consists of two service boxes, each measuring 7 ft. The server must stand behind the baseline and within the service box that corresponds to the side they will serve.

1c) How Do You Serve the Ball? There are two main techniques for serving in pickleball: the underhand motion and the volley serve.

The underhand serve involves the server dropping the ball below the waist and striking it with an underhand motion. The paddle head must be below the wrist at the point of contact, and the ball must be served diagonally across the court to the opponent’s service area.

The volley serve, on the other hand, is delivered before the ball bounces, requiring the server to move towards the court’s midline. The serve is hit with an upward motion, resulting in a flatter trajectory than the underhand serve, making it more challenging for the opponent to return.

1d) Doubles Serving

In doubles play, both players on the serving team get a turn to serve, but only the serving partner can serve. Once the first serving team loses its serve, the partner serves next.

When the serving team loses a point, the opponents also get a chance to serve, and the serving order changes.

1e) Service Faults

Several faults may come up while serving, and the consequence of a fault is losing the serve or giving the opponents a point. These faults may include serving out of bounds, missing the service box, contact of the ball above the waist, and not serving diagonally.

2) Serving in Pickleball: Rules and Techniques

2a) Serving Techniques

The two main serving techniques in pickleball are the underhand motion and the volley serve. The underhand serve is ideal for beginner players, while the volley serve is more advanced and requires more practice.

The server can control the speed, spin, and placement of the ball using either technique.

2b) Diagonal Serving Rule

When serving, the ball must not only clear the net but also land within the opponent’s service court diagonally across from the server. If the serve lands outside the diagonal service court, it is considered a fault.

2c) The Non-Volley Zone

The non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen, is a 14 ft. area near the net where players cannot step and hit volleys.

A ball that lands in the non-volley zone must bounce before a player can hit it. If a player violates this rule, it is considered a fault.

2d) Faults During Serve

A player can commit faults during the serve when they hit the ball before it bounces on their side of the court, hit into or under the net, or hit the ball out of bounds. Any of these faults results in a loss of serve or point to the opponents.

In conclusion, understanding the rules and techniques of serving in pickleball is crucial for players looking to improve their skills and win games. Remember that good serving requires proper technique, accuracy, and consistency.

Keep practicing to develop your abilities and become an excellent server in the sport. Serving is an essential aspect of pickleball, and understanding it is crucial to becoming a skilled player.

One important aspect of serving is determining who serves first. This can be done through various methods and has an impact on the game’s entire course.

3) Determining Who Serves First

3a) Deciding Methods

There are several ways to determine who serves first in a pickleball game. Flipping a coin or using the spin technique is the most common method.

The winner of the toss can choose either to serve first or to select the court end that they want to begin the game. Guessing a number is another popular method; each player chooses a number, and whoever is closest to the referee’s number gets to decide whether they want to serve or choose the side of the court.

Regardless of the method used, determining the service order is essential at the start of the game.

3b) Choosing to Serve or Receive

Once the service order is decided, the first player/team gets to choose whether to serve or receive. Choosing to serve allows players to control the pace of the game and sets the tone for the match.

Conversely, choosing to receive allows players to see their opponent’s serving style, technique, and accuracy before they serve. The players that choose to serve first should take advantage of the opportunity to start the game off on a high note.

3c) Choosing the End of the Court

In addition to choosing who serves first, the player/team that wins the toss also gets to choose the end of the court at the beginning of the game. This choice is essential because it affects the positioning of the sun, wind, and other environmental factors that may influence the players’ performance.

Players should consider their strengths and abilities when choosing the court end to start.

4) Pickleball Doubles Serving

4a) Singles Vs. Doubles Serving

Serving in doubles follows the same rules as singles, with the exception of the serving order. In doubles, each partner gets a chance to serve.

Normally, the first server will serve to the opponent on the right side of the court and switch sides after the first point is played. After switching sides, the teammate now serves to the opponent on the left.

This pattern continues until the serving team loses a rally. Once the other team wins a point, they will serve, and their serving player will alternate sides as well.

Doubles serving rules allow for more variety in serving styles and can make serving more exciting and challenging.

4b) Starting the Game

In doubles play, the game starts with a zero score, and the player on the right side of the court serves first. The first partner to serve first is determined by the coin toss.

The serving partner must start behind the baseline, with at least one foot in the area behind the baseline but inside the service box. Partners can alternate serving sides after each point won by their team, rotating between the left and right service courts.

4c) Switching Sides During Service

After the serving team wins a rally, the serving player switches sides with their partner before serving the following point. This rule is known as the rotation or side-out rule and allows each player the opportunity to serve during the game.

The purpose of the side-out rule is to ensure that both teams have an equal opportunity to serve and play from both sides of the court.

4d) Faults During Doubles Serving

Like in singles play, serving faults can occur in a doubles game, resulting in the loss of serve and points awarded to the opponent. Faults like hitting the ball out of bounds, missing the service area, or hitting the net are all considered faults.

In doubles play, one of the players can commit a fault when it’s their turn to serve, resulting in the loss of serve for their team. Serving is a vital component of pickleball, and understanding the rules can help players gain an advantage over their opponents.

Knowing the proper way to serve can help players start the game strong and prevent the other team from gaining too much momentum. Here are some important serving rules that players must follow.

5) Serving Rules in Pickleball

5a) Importance of Serving

The serve is crucial in pickleball because it starts the game and determines the pace and momentum of the match. The team that wins the serve can use it to dictate the flow of play, make their opponents move around the court more, and potentially force errors.

A strong serve can also help establish an early lead and put pressure on the opposing team.

5b) Serving Order

The serving order in pickleball follows a pattern based on the score of the game. At the beginning of the game, the serving order is determined by a coin toss.

After that, the serving order is determined by the score. The team that serves first in a game gets to serve again after the first point is won.

After that, the serve changes sides and alternates between the two teams for every other point scored until the end of the game.

5c) Starting Area of the Server

The server must start serving from behind the baseline and stand towards the right-hand side of the court while serving diagonally. The serving team’s player must start on the right side of the court, with at least one foot behind the baseline and in the service area.

After the initial serve, the player who served must join their partner on the court and play the game.

5d) Faults During Service

In pickleball, serving faults occur when a player commits a mistake during the serve. Common faults include stepping on or over the baseline while serving, allowing the ball to touch any part of the net before crossing the opponent’s service line, serving the ball out of bounds, or hitting the ball too high.

When any of these faults occur, the serve is deemed invalid, and the point is awarded to the opponent. In doubles play, the server commits a fault, and the opposing team earns the point and takes over the serve.

When a fault occurs during the serve, it could result in the server surrendering their serve, thus giving the control to the opponent. The fault also adds a point to the opponent’s score, creating further pressure on the server.


Understanding the rules for serving is crucial for players of all skill levels in pickleball. Knowing the proper way to serve can give players a significant advantage over their opponents, and faults during the serve can quickly turn the game in favor of the other team.

Taking the time to learn the rules and techniques of serving can lead to significant improvements in the player’s overall performance, leading to more victories on the court. Serving is a crucial aspect of pickleball that determines the game’s flow and momentum.

Players need to understand the rules and techniques of serving, including how to determine the serving order, where to serve from, and the possible faults during the serve that could result in a loss of point or serve. Practicing serving can help players develop their skills and become stronger and more effective on the court.

In conclusion, the proper understanding of serving can significantly impact the game, especially in a sport where rallies are short and each point counts.


1) What is the serving order in pickleball?

Answer: The serving order in pickleball follows a pattern based on the score of the game. 2) What are common faults during the serve in pickleball?

Answer: Common faults include stepping on or over the baseline while serving, hitting the ball out of bounds, or allowing the ball to touch any part of the net before crossing the opponent’s service line. 3) How can I improve my serving in pickleball?

Answer: Practicing serving techniques, understanding serving rules, and adopting a proper mindset during the serve can help players improve their serving skills.

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