What are the pickleball serving rules? 

Pickleball serving requires the server to start behind the baseline and serve diagonally across the court to the opponent’s service court. The opponent must return the serve with an underhand stroke below the waist.

When serving, the server must make contact with the ball within the boundaries of the service area. The ball must clear over the non-volley zone and land within the confines of the opponent’s diagonal service court. Only proper serves within these rules and court dimensions are considered legal serves.

The server must always use the right-hand service court to start each new point during the first serve. After that, serves alternate back and forth between the right and left service courts until the scoring point is won. There is no penalty for a “let” serve when the served ball contacts the net but lands in the proper service court.

The importance of serving rules of Pickleball

Pickleball’s serving rules are essential because they ensure the game is fair and that both teams have an equal chance to win. Every single point in a pickleball game starts with a serve, which gives the serving player a slight advantage in controlling the pace and placement of the ball.

The serving rules of pickleball prevent players from gaining an excessive advantage by making improper serves. For example, rules prohibit serves that double-bounce the ball, are made from the wrong position, use an illegal underhand motion, etc. While maintaining the spirit of competition, the serving rules aim to provide balance so that both teams have a reasonable chance to score points and win games.

What is The Difference Between a Legal and an Illegal Service?

A pickleball serve can be legal or illegal based on three primary serving rules of pickleball. A serve that violates any of these rules is considered an illegal serve. For a service to be legal and valid, it must fulfill all three serving rules of pickleball criteria properly:

First, the paddle face must be positioned below the wrist of the player serving the ball. Second, the serve must use an underhand swinging motion to strike the ball, moving the paddle from low to high at the point of contact.

Any serve made with a sideways or rounding motion instead of a straight underhand swing is illegal. Also, it is unlawful if the paddle contacts the ball above the server’s waistline. For a serve to be legal, the wrist must be higher than the paddle face at the moment of impact.

3 Basic Serving Rules of pickleball

There are three basic Serving Rules of pickleball are as follows:

Underhand Serve

underhand serve in pickleball

The underhand serve requires swinging the paddle upward to strike the ball underhand. Contact with the ball must be made below waist level. Many beginning pickleball players following the serving rules of pickleball utilize the underhand serve if uncomfortable performing a traditional underhand serve.

Feet Placement

Pickleball has strict rules about foot placement when serving the ball. according to the serving rules of pickleball, Players must have both feet positioned behind the baseline and between the sidelines when serving. The server’s feet also must remain behind the baseline until after the served ball is struck.

Pickleball Serving Rules Feet Placement

No penalty or fault is called if the server commits a foot fault by stepping on or over the baseline or sideline before hitting the ball. The serve is still valid as long as the contact is legal.

Crosscourt Serve

It is also an important point in the Serving Rules of Pickleball. With a crosscourt serve, the server hits the ball diagonally across the court toward the opposite side of the receiver’s court. It makes it more challenging for the receiver to return the ball effectively. The crosscourt serve takes advantage of the court geometry to create a difficult angle for the opponent.

Pickleball Volley Serve or Pickleball Drop Serve

In accordance with the Serving Rules of pickleball, the server must hit the ball before it bounces, essentially volleying the serve to start the point. It adds pressure on the receiving team because they must quickly react and return the volley serve out of the air. While the volley serve can be highly effective, it also carries higher risk since it requires more precision. A volley serve that is mis-hit or sent too high could result in a service fault.

Drop Serve in Pickleball

Alternatively, with a pickleball drop serve, the server tosses the ball high to bounce in the receiving court after being served. Returning the serve after it bounces poses more difficulty for the receiver since the bounce is unpredictable and tricky to judge. A drop serve gives the server more control and is less intimidating for the opponent than a volley serve.

Pickleball volley serves or drops will ultimately depend on the player’s strengths and weaknesses and the Pickleball strategy. Both services must be practiced and used strategically in each situation according to the player’s strengths and weaknesses.

Pickleball Drop Serve – How to Do a Pickleball Drop Serve

Here is a step-by-step guide to performing a correct pickleball drop serve. As per the Serving Rules of Pickleball Here is the procedure for doing a Pickleball drop serve:

  • Start in the proper serving position, standing behind the baseline diagonally across from your service court. Keep your feet aligned with the baseline.
  • Grip the ball correctly in your non-dominant hand, spreading your fingers wide around the ball for control. Hold the ball around waist height, slightly in front of your body.
  • Grip the pickleball paddle with your dominant hand, wrapping your fingers around the handle. Position the paddle just above the top of the grip.
  • Release the ball from your non-dominant hand so it drops onto the angled face of the paddle. Find a consistent dropping height for proper timing.
  • Using a smooth, controlled underhand swing, strike the ball over the net into your opponent’s service court as it contacts the paddle face. Keep your swing low, below waist level.
  • Follow through with your swing motion as you return to a ready position to react to your opponent’s return. Stay balanced and light on your feet.
  • Practice your drop serve technique regularly, focusing on timing, consistency, and accuracy. Make minor adjustments as needed until the serve feels natural.

With repeated practice, you can master the nuances of an effective drop serve to improve your pickleball game immediately. Varying your serve types and placements will keep opponents off balance.

Pickleball Rules on Service Faults

In pickleball, there are defined rules that result in a service fault when the server fails to put the ball legally into play:

serving faults in pickleball
  • The serve must use an underhand swing technique. The paddle must be below waist level at the point of contact with the ball.
  • The ball must clear over the net and land within the opponent’s diagonal service court for the serve to be considered reasonable.
  • The server’s feet must be positioned behind the baseline at serving.
  • The server cannot touch or cross over the baseline until after making contact with the ball.
  • The server is prohibited from volleying the return. The ball must bounce before being struck.

Violating these service rules results in a fault, with the point awarded to the opponent. After a service fault, the second serve passes to the opposing team.

Pickleball Rules on Receiving Faults

There are also defined pickleball rules that dictate when the receiving team commits a fault. Here are the pickleball rules that apply to receiving responsibilities in Pickleball:

  • A fault is hitting the served ball before it bounces once on the receiving side.
  • Failing to return the ball so that it lands within the diagonal service court results in a fault.
  • The ball bouncing once and then being struck into the correct service court constitutes a legal return. The return is good if the ball clips the net but still lands in.
  • If the served ball touches any part of the receiver’s body or clothing before being returned, it is considered a fault.
  • Anytime the receiving team makes a mistake, the serving team gets a point and gets to serve again.


In summary, familiarizing yourself with proper service techniques and serving rules can significantly improve your skills and competitiveness. You can become a formidable pickleball server with practice and dedication to mastering both underhand serve variations. Additionally, adhering to the rules facilitates enjoyable and fair pickleball play.

pickleball serving rules

To play pickleball legally and fairly, it is crucial to understand and follow various serving rules of pickleball. To improve your service and increase your chances of success in pickleball games, you should pay attention to proper technique and follow the rules.


How Does Pickleball Work? What Are The 10 Key Serving Rules of Pickleball?

There are numerous pickleball rules, but these are the top ten Serving Rules of pickleball;

  1. It is the server’s responsibility to announce the score before every serve.
  2. Ten seconds should be allowed after the score is reported.
  3. There must be an underhand stroke used when serving.
  4. Standing outside of the baseline is the only way to make a serve.
  5. It is essential to follow the two-bounce Rule to start the rally’s momentum.
  6. The kitchen zone is not a place where you can play volleyball.
  7. The ball must stay within the boundaries of the court at all times.
  8. The serving team is the only team that has the chance to win the point.
  9. On average, a game ends with 11 points. However, some matches can last up to 15 or 21 points.
  10. The unspoken rules or the pickleball etiquette must be followed.

Can the ball be served from anywhere behind the baseline?

Yes, according to the Serving Rules of pickleball, the server can stand anywhere behind the baseline as long as they do not step on or over the baseline until after 

In serving rules of pickleball, what is the 10-second Rule?

Once the score is called out, the server has 10 seconds to do a service. A player not sticking to the 10-second Rule will be called a fault.

When playing pickleball, can you wear a glove?

The answer is yes, and gloves can be worn during pickleball. Many professional players wear gloves to be more comfortable and, most importantly, to have better control and grasp over the paddle when they play.

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