Like volleyball, tennis, badminton, and any other game involving a ball going over a net, serving is vital in Pickleball.
Good serving skills will ensure you are on equal footing or better than an opponent each time you start a game.
Lack of these skills will severely limit your attacking advantage, and if you get a skilled opponent, they will maximize your mistake and punish you. Let us get into the topic and see the basics on serving the ball and how to improve it:
How To Serve In Pickleball
One of the significant differences between Pickleball and other ratchet games is the underhand serve.
Strict rules control this technique, and you have to follow these rules. Let us get into the details to see what these rules are and how to serve in Pickleball.
You need to follow three rules when serving the ball. The first is to use an underhand motion when hitting the ball. This rule means the paddle has to swing upwards when you are hitting the ball.
The second rule is to hit the ball below your waist, which is defined by your naval. This rule makes sense considering you have to hit the ball with an upward swing. It limits how much you can raise the ball to make the game better.
The third rule is that your wrist has to be above the paddle face when you hit the ball. These rules make raising the ball too close on the serve difficult, thus giving the game a chance to be played rather than easy wins.
When serving, you need to use your whole body, not just the wrist or arm. This motion will not allow you to maximize your serve potential, making it harder for you to master other serves. Make sure you use the legs, core, and arm to make an accurate fluid motion.
Give yourself more motion with the ball by standing in an open posture; keep your shoulder parallel to the net.
This position will allow you more freedom, and you will be able to deliver more power with your strikes rather than facing the opponent and constricting your motion.
Try to loosen all the muscles you use in the swing, the shoulder, wrist, and grip on the pad since it allows you more control over the ball and makes the swing smooth.
Too much tension in the hold and muscles will lead to a jerky motion that makes the control of the ball difficult.
Do not produce a big swing. Instead, put your paddle around your hip and take it back a little. Go as high as the power you need without twisting your shoulders too much since that will mess up with the ball’s direction.
Dropping the ball is also crucial in serving, do not throw the ball, then wait or toss it downward with a raised hand. Instead, keep it at your naval height and release it as you initiate the swing, and you should get a consistent hit.
Pickleball Serving Techniques
The serving rules in Pickleball are pretty strict, and they are part of the game’s defining characteristics.
These rules focus on keeping the player’s pad low to prevent them from delivering too much power.
Following these rules, there are four basic serves you can use in Pickleball. You need to know several of these to change up your style and be unpredictable to your opponent.
- The rules entirely explain the most basic serve—you start low and hit the ball upward to get it across to the opponent. People call this “just get it in” serve. It’s a service best used by beginners.
- Once you have mastered the basic service, you could go on and try the lob serve. It is another basic serve, only you follow it a little higher, and you hit the ball a bit harder to get it deeper in the opponent’s territory. It is a good service because it reduces the options for the receiver, the ball comes at them faster, and you will realize they often hit it into the net. They will get displaced trying to compensate for your service, and it will be a good way for you to start a game.
- The third basic service is the power serve, and it comes down to using your torso to drive the ball and lift it. This motion pushes the ball with speed, and at a low angle, it puts a lot of pressure on your opponents. If you learn this, you will steal a few points since fastballs are hard to control. It is an excellent way to surprise an opponent after using one serve for a long time.
- The final serve is the angle serve. This one bounces off the kitchen and goes off the court. This service is a solid choice if your opponent is slow or they use stacking techniques against you. This choice is an advanced serve and not the best for beginners, but once you master it, it is very advantageous. The opponent will either miss the ball, and it will bounce off the court, or they will hit it back to you but fail to reset in time, giving you a scoring opportunity.
Tips on Avoiding Pop-ups
As a player, you must have noticed that it isn’t much you can do offensively with a low ball. This observation means you should always keep the balls low and avoid giving the opponent balls that they can work with efficiently.
At times, when the game has advanced, you will be at the NVZ line dinking the ball, and you raise the ball a little too high, and the opponent messes you up with it. This mistake is a problem for many players, so here are some tips on avoiding pop-ups;
1. Reduce your swing
Most of the time, when players are dinking at the NVZ line, they start bringing the hand too far back. The further back you get the paddle, the more the chances of you making a mistake.
When you execute a dink with such a motion, the paddle makes contact with the ball at high speed—increasing the chances of a pop-up.
Try to keep the paddle in front of you, so you only move it slightly back and mostly sideways to make contact with the ball.
If you swing too far back, you will notice that you hit the ball from underneath since it takes time for the paddle to make final contact.
This flaw means that the ball will get raised as it goes over the net; thus, it will inevitably bounce higher.
2. Use a light grip and pressure
Think of the pad as an extension of your arm. If your arm is stiff, it will deliver less power than it would if it were loose. This concept works the same with a paddle and the grip pressure you put on it.
If the grip pressure were on a scale of 1 to 10, you need to make sure the grip on your paddle is below 5.
If the grip is too tight, you will notice that your shots will go too high or too far, and you will give the opponent an attacking advantage.
Try to soften up your grip pressure, and that will help reduce the height of your shots, and they will drop in the kitchen.
Even if the swing is short, a tight grip transfers all the inertia into the ball so that it will go higher, and a loose grip releases some energy to make it better.
3. Dink Crosscourt
This tip takes advantage of the entire length of the opponent’s kitchen. If you dink crosscourt, you have a longer distance to hit. The ball will travel further before getting to the opponent’s strike zone. Consequently, it will be easier to keep it low.
The greater distance also allows you more space to get the ball in the kitchen, and it is an excellent way to keep the opponent from volleying.
The more room you have to work with, the more comfortable you get, and the more time you have to reset.
If you have a problem with the grip of hitting too hard, a crosscourt dink could be just what you need to keep your drinks safe.
The longer the ball travels, the less it bounces since it loses energy in motion, and you should see the difference.
Serving is a significant part of any ratchet sport, and it is the same with Pickleball. It is one of the fundamental lessons you have to take since you will have to serve. Getting the proper technique is an integral part of this to ensure wins.
Whenever you serve, volley, or dink the ball, make sure you keep it low. Low balls are difficult to attack with. Therefore you will be in an advantageous position by delivering softballs.
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