Keep it SIMPLE!
If you are a beginner Pickleball player, the best thing you can do- starting today- is to simplify your serve. This is the quickest and easiest way to dramatically improve your game.
Improving your pickleball skills usually takes a lot of on-court practice and thousands of shots but unlike other aspects of the game, the basic serve is mostly mindset and mental preparation.
Unlike the fast action during a game where you have to make split-second decisions, the serve is the rare time during a pickleball game that you are in total control.
You decide when, where and how you are going to hit the ball. So much of the serve is mental, you can visualize and even “practice” your serve off the court.
This is something you can work on now, even after the court. Just grab your paddle and a ball. (I’ll wait 😉 Come up with a SIMPLE routine that works for you. No need to bounce the ball 10 times and spin in a circle every time you serve!
If you have to think about what you are doing (counting bounces, etc) it’s too complicated! It should just become an automatic pattern. This routine will help keep your serve consistent.
It’s the same theory as the pre-shot routine a basketball player does at the free-throw line. Watch the best players in the NBA, they have a simple little routine and it’s exactly the same every time. Those are the guys that hit close to 90% of their shots!
Pick Your Target:
Beginners: aim for the middle of your opponent’s service area. Eventually, as your skills advance, you can try to hit it deep and catch the corners of the box, aim for their backhand, lob serve, power server, etc.
But for now… JUST GET IT IN!
Your pre-serve routine should end with you clearly set the ball. Get the ball ready to serve, set the ball in the same place every time. It should NOT be moving at this point.
The best way is to hold the ball against the paddle, I tap the ball against the paddle face and hold it there steady until my serving motion begins.
Hold the top of the ball. This may be a personal preference but I find it’s a lot easier to hold the ball from above and release it (just let it drop out of your fingers) rather than supporting the ball from underneath and having to quickly get my hand out of the way of the paddle.
Take a deep breath and visualize where the serve is going to go.
Swing From Your Shoulder
Start the movement from your shoulder, not your wrist or elbow. Follow-through, aiming the paddle where you want the serve to go extending your paddle arm towards your target at the end of your swing.
I cannot stress enough to beginners the importance of getting the serve over the net. Unless you are a very advanced pickleball player with a consistent serve, don’t try to use your serve as an offensive weapon.
Too many players try to ace their serves or try overly fancy shots.
STOP trying to ace your pickleball serve!
It’s just not going to happen consistently-not like in tennis. Acing in pickleball is a lot harder and you only get one serve attempt in Pickleball compared to two in tennis so being too aggressive on your serve will cost you valuable points.
You win games by getting the ball over the net. Let your opponent make the errors! Practice is the main key to being consistent and getting it over the net every time. As you get better you will automatically add speed and power to your serve and will eventually get to the point where you can modify your serve but to start –Keep it simple!!
Taking Your Serve To The Next Level!
While these tips above are meant to help you consistently get the ball over the net and into the service area, if you are serious about improving your pickleball serve we recommend you take a look at the Serving for Gold Course by our friends over at quickpickle.com. The course is specifically designed for taking your serving skills to the next level. In the course, one of the most important things you’ll learn is:
How to Stop Using Only 1 Serve in Pickleball
The online video course “Serving For Gold” is taught by Vivian Edwards, a professional pickleball player and training pro at USA Pickleball University. She’s won Gold medals at the Grand Canyon Games and Great Plains Regionals as well as many other medals at regional tournaments.
The video course is a practical and affordable way to train specific skills. You’ll only get this kind of detailed training from private lessons or an expensive clinic.
The cost of the course is about what you’d pay for a couple of private lessons at my local club so it seems well worth the investment and the folks at Quick Pickle offer a 100% money-back guarantee if you do not get the results you expect from the course.
Here is a short interview with Vivian about why she did the course.
Other tips you might find helpful: