Pickleball serving rules

Pickle ball racquet
Sana Sabir
October 13, 2022
Read Time:12 Minute, 58 Second

Pickleball is a great sport, and it’s fun to play. But when you play, you need to consider some important aspects of the game to ensure safe play. One of the most crucial factors of the game is the pickleball serving rules.

Learning the rules at the beginning means there is less chance of any confusion, and you play a game in the right way. But things can get a little annoying when you don’t have proper knowledge of such guidelines.

If you want to learn how to serve in pickleball but can’t find the time or patience to sit down and learn it yourself, don’t worry! We’ve got your back. In this blog, we’ll go through all the new pickleball serve rules you need to know when playing the game. 

So let’s dig right into the details!

Why the pickleball rules for serving are crucial

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Pickleball is a famous sport that is growing in popularity, especially among seniors. Learning all associated standards of the game is crucial because they ensure that the game is fair and fun for everyone

Without these principles, the game would be chaotic and could easily become unfair. For example, if there were no principles about how to attend the game, then players could just keep hitting the ball to their opponents until they got tired or made a mistake. This would make the game very boring and would not be very fair.

Another reason why rules of pickleball serving are so important is that they help to keep the game safe. If players were allowed to just hit the ball anywhere they wanted, then they could easily hit each other with the ball. This could lead to injuries, which would ruin the game for everyone.

So, standards are essential because they help make the game fair, fun, and safe for everyone involved. Without these standards, the game would be a mess and would not be nearly as enjoyable.

What are the pickleball serving rules?

Do you know that most people think the serve is just a game of chance? They don’t realize that there are many different rules for playing and you need to know them all!

However, pickleball serving rules can be a little confusing. The main issue with the rules is that many different versions of them exist to learn. For example, pickleball singles serving rules are different from the pickleball drop serve rules. There are also other guidelines that can affect how you play.

Coming up next, we’ll discuss all official pickleball serving rules one by one. But first, let’s discuss the basics of the play.

First, the server must stand behind the baseline, and the receiver must stand in the no-volley zone. To attend, the player needs to strike the ball diagonally into the opposing court.

If the ball strikes the net while being served, it is considered a let, and the serve is replayed. The receiver, on the other hand, must allow the ball bounce before striking it. It is a fault if the receiver strikes it before bouncing. The first team to score 11 points will win the game.

So these are some of the basics of the game. By following these basics, you can make sure that you are playing correctly and giving yourself the best chance to win the point. Now let’s move ahead and discuss pickleball net serve rules.

Click here to download the Official Pickleball Serving Rulebook by USAPA.

Pickleball serve rules for hitting the ball.

There are three primary rules to remember no matter where or when you play the game. Let’s understand them one by one:

The serving motion of the pickleball must be upward

In this game, a hit is deemed illegal if the server doesn’t move his arm in an upward arc at the time he strikes the ball. Simply put, making a serve that is not moving upward from low to high is illegal.

Do you know?

Some players believe that the game principle requires you to strike with your forehand. However, this isn’t always the case. One can play using either a backhand or forehand motion in this game. You only need to make sure that your arm is moving in an upward motion when the paddle strikes the ball.

The paddle must hit the ball below waist level

Here’s where things may become tough for you if you don’t practice properly. According to the official rule number 4.A.7, when hitting the ball, your paddle should be placed below your waist level. 

This is sometimes baffling to beginner players and might be among the most difficult to comprehend or handle while you’re playing the game.

Pro Tip: If you’re having trouble hitting the ball below your waist level while playing, record your game and watch the replay in slow motion. Continue until you acquire a sense of what is acceptable!

The head of the pickleball paddle must be positioned below the server’s wrist

The Official guidelines of the game state that the server can only hit the ball when the paddle head is below the wrist. Otherwise, it will be considered illegal to attend. 

Again, getting this properly may not be easy.

Rule 4.A.6 of the USAPA rule book states that you are allowed to hit a serve from any position if your highest point on the paddle is lower than your highest point of the wrist (normally, it is where the wrist bends.)

This is possibly the most difficult principle to grasp. It really takes some practice to get the hang of it!

Pickleball serving line rules

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If you want to score points, you will need to play correctly. This means getting the ball into play by hitting it over the net into your opponent’s court. Pickleball serving line rules are simple:

  • When hitting, you must make sure that both of your feet are behind the baseline, or you will be at fault.
  • Secondly, you must hit the ball diagonally across the court. This implies that if you’re playing on the court’s left side, then you have to strike to the right side, and conversely. The reason for this is to ensure that both players have an equal opportunity to return the ball. If you hit from the same side of the court as your opponent, they will have an advantage.

These rules make sure that the game is fair and that players have an equal opportunity to score points. If you violate either of these guidelines, your opponent will be awarded a point.

Other pickleball serving rules

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Now you already know the fundamentals of pickleball standards, let’s move forward and learn a few more things to remember while playing the game.

If you are a beginner, don’t panic; your team members will assist you in mastering these, so focus on memorizing the above standards first!

Every player keeps serving until they make a mistake

Unlike tennis and paddle, pickleball does not provide everyone an equal opportunity to play. Instead, in this game, the server is allowed to keep playing until they commit a fault. Since you are able only to score while you are attending, scoring can rapidly become lopsided!

Your score determines where you serve

In this game, regardless of who attended last on the team, the player on the right will hit first. Pickleball singles serving rules state that if your score is even (counting zero at the beginning of the match), you will need to serve from your right side. On the contrary, if the score is odd, you’ll serve from the court’s left.

For each serve, the server switches sides

After the initial strike, each subsequent serve must be hit from the opposite side of the court. As a result, your initial hit may be on the right side of the field, your second from the left, the third hit from the right, and so on.

This will continue until you make a mistake

Pickleball doubles serving rules

Pickleball serving rules - Cartoon pickleball players edited

When you search “pickleball serving rules doubles,” you get a huge list of rules that might confuse you at some point. Undoubtedly, following the standards while playing the game is a true test of skill. 

But no worries! To help you out, we’ve put together some very helpful tips:

  • First, you need to ensure that all your hits are made underhand, with contact to the ball occurring below the waist. This means that your paddle must be held at waist level or lower when you’re striking the ball.
  • The second rule is all hits should be directed at the opposing diagonal service area. So if you’re playing in the left corner, your strike should go to the right side of the court.
Pickleball serving rules - Pickleball diagonal serve edited 1
  • Next, you’ll only have one attempt per serve. At the start of the game, just one player of the first attending squad takes a service turn. Moreover, every time a point is earned, members of the attending team switch sides. At the same time, members on the receiving team don’t shift sides every time the attending team earns a point.
  • When a player from the serving team hits the ball, receiving team’s player who is not on diagonal side from the serving player – should go to the kitchen line.
  • In addition, the score must be announced prior to the serve. The referee has 10 seconds to declare the scoring, after which the players have ten seconds for serving.
  • One will announce the score in a specified three-number sequence. The very first number would be the score of the server. The second number would be the score of receiving team, while the last number would be the number of server: either one or two. 

Pickleball singles serving rules

Pickleball singles serving rules are almost the same as pickleball serving rules doubles. 

Like other standards, the scoring system of doubles is generally similar to scoring in singles, with the exception that the other player on each team affects things slightly. The basic rule of scoring entails that just the serving team may score points. When the receiving team makes a mistake, the serving team’s score increases by one point. However, the score of receiving team will remain unchanged, which means they do not win or lose a point unless they receive the serve.

Apart from similarities, there is only a major difference between the two playing methods. Let’s understand:

In singles, when a fault occurs, the ball is handed to the other team. Whereas, in doubles, if the first server on the serving team makes a fault, the second server will serve. And, when the second server has already been served, the opposing team gets the ball after a fault is committed.

Pickleball Volley Serve or Pickleball Drop Serve

When playing the game, there are two main types of serves: the volley serve, and the drop serve. The volley serve is when you strike the ball into the air even before it lands on the ground, while the drop serve is when you let the ball bounce before hitting it.

Volley serves are generally used when the opponent is far back from the net, as it is harder for them to return the ball. Drop serves are generally used when the opponent is close to the net, as it is easier to return the ball after it has bounced.

Both types of serves have their own advantages and disadvantages. Wondering what they are? Let’s elaborate on the concept!

The volley serve is quick and can be used to surprise your opponents. However, it is more difficult to control and can sometimes go into the net. The drop serve is slower and easier to control, but your opponents can easily return it. It is best used when you want to make sure the ball stays in play.

So it is up to the player to decide which one to use in any given situation.

How to learn the pickleball serving rules

If you’re just starting out, the game rules can seem a bit daunting. But don’t worry— with a little practice, you’ll be playing like a pro in no time!
The best way to learn the standards of this game is to find a court and start playing. Here are few tips to help you in learning the game and improving your skills:

  1. Start by studying the principles

    Familiarize yourself with the various scenarios and how to execute each type of serve.

  2. Practice, practice, and practice.

    The more you serve, the better you will become at it.

  3. Pay attention to your form.

    Make sure you’re using the correct grip, stance, and stroke.

  4. Use consistent speed and power.

    Don’t try to serve too hard— focus on control and accuracy.

  5. Visualize your hitting.

    Before you hit, take a moment to consider where you’d like the ball to strike. This will help you focus and increase your chances of making a successful serve.

With these things in mind, You’ll quickly be able to learn the rules of pickleball serving in no time!


Pickleball serving rules - FAQs 1024x1024
What are the five serving rules in pickleball?

1. The ball must remain in play.
2. Each side must have one bounce.
3. One must serve the ball at the baseline.
4. Strikes are not allowed to land in the no-volley zone.
5. The game concludes with 11, 15, or 21 points.

Can you toss the ball up when serving in pickleball?

The simple answer is: you cannot. Let’s understand why! In this game, players are only allowed one serve attempt at a time, so there is extra pressure to do it perfectly. You simply need to strike the ball when it’s pretty low to meet the required playing style. Therefore, you can’t toss the ball up when attending.

Can a pickleball return of serve fall in any kitchen line?

Absolutely, the return of serve can fall in any kitchen line. A serve, on the other hand, cannot land in the kitchen. And when it does, this will be considered a fault or side-out (when it is a second server).

Can you spin a drop serve in pickleball?

Yes, you can spin a drop serve in this game. The key to a successful drop serve is to get the ball to spin as it falls so that it dips quickly and lands in your opponent’s court. This can be tricky to do, but with practice, you can get the ball to spin just the right way.

Is a backhand serve legal in pickleball?

Yes, backhand serves are legal in this game. However, there are several guidelines which you must follow in order for your backhand serve to be legal.
• The ball must drop diagonally in the service area opposite to where you’re standing.
• The ball must first bounce before you can hit.
• It is necessary to strike the ball below the waist.
• You can’t commit double faults during the play.

Wrap Up

If you are new to pickleball or unsure of the rules, be sure to ask a friend or family member for help. This game can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages and skill levels, so don’t be hesitant to give this sport a shot!



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Sana Sabir

Hi, I’m Sana Sabir. I’m a freelance content writer from Pakistan. I am passionate about fitness and sports, so much so that it’s the reason my career has taken off. My background is in business studies and I love to write about fitness and sports-related topics.

I also write articles on other niches like healthcare, fashion, and lifestyle. Being a fitness lover who has always been fascinated by the human body and how it works, I had always wanted to be a fitness writer since an early age. I enjoy trying new sports, one of my favorites of which is pickleball. 

I’ve been writing for 3 years now, and my work has been published on many fitness, health, and lifestyle blogs. I always entertain my readers with some interesting and informational articles. To ensure my articles are genuine and relevant, I perform in-depth research, explore case studies, and read books on the topic before writing. Besides writing, I love painting, cooking, and gardening.