Pickleball Serving Rules – Master the Serve In 2023

What are the pickleball serving rules

The service is an essential part of the game, as it sets the tone for the point and determines who takes control of the rally. Pickleball serving rules are vital to ensure a fair and competitive game. They help to prevent players from gaining an unfair advantage and create a level playing field for both teams. 

The rules dictate who will serve the pickleball first, where the server must stand, how they should serve the ball, and where the ball must land.  By following these rules, players can prevent faults, such as serving out of bounds, hitting toward the net, or serving from the wrong location. So, it gives the result in a point for the opposite team. Here’s a complete guide on how you can master the art of serving and how you can snatch the points through serves and much more.

Pickleball Serve Rules (Basics)

Serves the ball in pickleball is called the “server,”

Receiver: The player who gets the service is called the “receiver.” 

Rally: The rally starts when the serve and return of serve are completed. 

Here are the Pickleballs serve rules to consider. Have a look! 

Pickleball serving rotation rules
  • Stand behind the baseline to serve. 
  • Serve diagonally across the net to the opponent’s service court. 
  • Use an underhand serve.
  • Keep the paddle below waist level while performing. 
Pickleball serving rules for beginners
  • Ensure that at least one foot is behind the baseline when it makes contact with the ball. 
  • The serve must clear the non-volley zone and land within the opponent’s service court to be considered legal. 
  • If the server is out of bounds or fails to clear the non-volley zone, it results in a fault. A fault results in the opponent earning a point. 
  • After the first serve, the server must alternate serving from the right and left service courts. 
  • The server must also announce the score before each serve. 
  • Both the server and receiver must allow the ball to bounce once before returning it (two-bounce rule). Before delving into the details of pickleball serving rules, you must understand some basic terms.  
  • The graphical representation of pickleball serving rules is mentioned above.

Pickleball Server Position

When involved in pickleball serve, the server must be positioned behind the line on their side of the court. This means the server must not cross the baseline or step on it before impacting the ball for the serve to be valid. 

Pickleball serving rules prevent the server from gaining an unfair advantage by entering the court before serving the ball by requiring that the serve be made from a stationary place.  

  • The server must strike the ball with enough force from behind the baseline to clear the net and land in the opponent’s service court. 
pickleball serving position
  • The server must hold the ball in one hand and use the other to hit the ball with the paddle. 
  • The server must make contact with the ball below waist level and hit it diagonally across the court. 
USA Pickleball rules
  • The serve must land in the opponent’s service court to be considered legal. 
  • If the server crosses the baseline or steps on it before making contact with the ball, the serve is a fault, and the opposing team earns the point.  

These pickleball rules for serving ensure that the serve is made fairly and that the server does not gain an advantage by entering the court before striking the ball.  This implies that before serving the ball, the server cannot enter the court or alter their position.  

By moving into the court before serving the ball, the server would give themselves an unfair advantage. These pickleball serving rules prevent that from happening.

Pickleball Serving Sequence 

  • The pickleball serve sequence is a crucial part of the pickleball rules on serving.
  • Each team member must serve the ball once before the server is passed to the opposing team in pickleball.
  • Each team must alternate serving the ball.
  • The serving squad starts the serve sequence from the right side of the court.
  • The ball must be served diagonally across the court to the opponent’s service court.
  • The ball should clear the net and land in the correct service court.
What are the Pickleball Serving Rules
  • After the initial serve, the serve shifts to the opposing side.
  • The receiving team member who returns the serve takes over as the server for the subsequent point.
  • This sequence continues until the game is over.

Pickleball Doubles Serving Rules

The serving team must serve in a specific sequence. The player who served last and won the point is the first to serve. If the team serving drops the point, the other team receives the serve, and the first player from that team serves.

The other person on the serving team serves first, followed by the other player on the receiving team. It is essential to remember that each participant on the team must serve once before the service is transferred to the opposing team in pickleball.

The non-playing partner must stand behind the baseline, and the serving person will pick the first short. After the service is returned, the non-plying partner can play in the rally and come to a non-volley zone.

These rules for serving in pickleball make sure that everyone has an equal chance to compete and that no one player has an unfair advantage in the pickleball doubles serving positions. here is the complete guide to being a master while playing pickleball in doubles.

Typical Opening Pickleball Sequence

Pickleball Singles Serving Rules

  • In singles, the server always starts serving from the right-hand serving court (even-numbered side).
  • Singles: The server in singles serves diagonally to the opponent’s court.
  • Faults by the server result in a loss of serve, allowing the opponent to take over the serve.
  • Points can only be scored by the serving player.
  • After a side-out, in pickleball singles serving rules, the player rotates within the non-volley zone, allowing them to serve from both the right and left sides.
  • Players switch sides when the serving player’s score reaches an even number.
  • The player serving first alternates sides after each point is scored.

The game concludes when one player reaches the predetermined winning score with at least a two-point advantage.

Serve Motion

The serve motion is a crucial component of pickleball serving rules 2023. To guarantee that the serve is fair and that the opposing team has a reasonable chance to return the ball, the serve motion has to conform to a set of rules for serving pickleball.

The server must hit the ball underhand according to the first pickleball serving rules of the serve motion. The server must swing the paddle upward to strike the ball during the serve. An overhand stroke or a downward strike is not allowed when serving in pickleball.

Pickleball Serve Sequence 2

This rule ensures that the serve is made under control and gives the opposing team a chance to return the ball. The server must maintain the paddle below their waist when contacting the ball. Serving the ball with a downward or slicing motion is not allowed, and it will be deemed a fault.

pickleball serve position

The serve must land diagonally across the net inside the opposing service court. The server is positioned on the right side of the court, it must deliver the ball diagonally to the left side of the opposing court and vice versa. The backcourt and service boxes are two of the sections that make up the opposing service court.

It’s important to remember that for no faults, the ball must fall inside the lines of the opposing service court. Lines, such as the sides, the baseline, and the centerline, define the court’s boundaries. It is out of bounds and will result in a fault if the ball touches the ground outside these boundaries.

Understanding the Receiver Position

Pickleball’s receiver position is like the calm before the storm; you can prepare before the ball flies straight at you. It would be best if you patiently waited on your side of the court behind the baseline as a receiver while watching the server as they got ready to unleash their pickleball serve.

It is a dance of sorts, a delicate balance between waiting and reacting, all while following the game’s rules.

The “two bounce rule” should also not be overlooked. It is a difficult one where the receiver must wait and let the ball bounce before striking. The receiver must be prepared to move forward and strike the ball accurately and force once that bounce occurs, though.

Types of Pickleball Serves

There are several types of pickleball serve that players can use to keep their opponents on their toes. Here are some common types of pickleball serves. Take a look!

The Standard Serve

This is the most basic service, where the player hits the ball from a stationary position and aims for the receiver’s backhand.

The Drive Serve

This is a more rigid serve that requires more power and speed. The player hits the ball with a more aggressive motion and aims for the receiver’s weaker side.

The Lob Serve

Players use this service to prevent the receiver from attacking the ball. The player hits the ball softly and high and forces the receiver to hit it from behind the baseline.

The Spin Serve

Players use this service to add spin to the ball, which makes it harder for the receiver to return. The player can add topspin, backspin, or sidespin to the ball depending on their preference. The Pickleball Drop Serve rules: Players use the Drop Serve to catch the receiver off guard.

The player hits the ball softly, aims to make it land in the non-volley zone, and forces the receiver to hit it from a difficult position.

How not to serve and faults in Pickleball?

Let’s now discuss the common faults players should avoid in pickleball serve.

Hitting The Ball Out of Bounds

Hitting the ball out of bounds is one of the most common ones.
The serve is lost, and the receiver scores a point if the ball falls outside the service court.
To avoid making this error, it is essential to serve with the proper aim.

Striking the ball into the net

Striking the ball into the net is another typical pickleball fault. To be considered legitimate, the serve has to go through the net and touch down in the opposing service court. The receiver scores a point if the ball strikes the net and falls into the server’s court or if it fails to cross the net.

Foot fault

The server’s foot touching or crossing the baseline before striking the ball is known as a foot fault in pickleball. Before hitting the ball, players must not walk on or over the baseline.

This is a fault, and the serve is missed, giving the player receiving it a point. A similar mistake is making a downward strike on the ball. To prevent this error and keep the serve in play, players must strike the ball with an upward action.

Foot position

Tips for a Successful Serve in Pickleball

To increase the chances of successful service in pickleball, there are several tips that players can follow:
Start in the correct serving position behind the baseline.

  1. Use an underhand serve that is low and consistent.
  2. Aim for the opponent’s weaker side or to an open area of the court.
  3. Vary the speed and spin of the service to keep opponents off balance.
  4. Use a deep serve to push opponents to the back of the court.
  5. Avoid serving too hard, as it can result in a fault and give the opponents a point.
  6. Focus on accuracy rather than power when serving.

Practice Your Serve

Pickleball serve is a skill that can be developed with repetition and practice. You can build the muscle memory and technique required for a more reliable and effective serve by setting aside time to practice your serve.

To produce power and to make it difficult for your opponent to return, concentrate on hitting the ball up and away from you.

You will therefore notice a substantial improvement in your pickleball game if you make time to practice serving.

Focus on the Rules

For a fair and competitive game of pickleball, it is essential to fully understand the rules for serving pickleball.  It is your duty as a player to ensure you follow the serving rules in pickleball exactly. 

These pickleball rules on serving must be followed to avoid losing the game or losing points. To guarantee a fair and fun game for all players, pay attention to the rules for pickleball serve and follow them.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball 

When serving in pickleball, keeping a watch on the ball is essential. Focusing on the ball will help you strike it in the proper direction, which is essential to nailing an accurate serve. Keeping a watch on the ball can also prevent you from making errors like hitting it into the net or outside the opposing service court. 

Position Yourself Correctly 

An effective pickleball serve depends on your ability to position yourself properly.  

  • Position yourself behind the baseline on your side of the court.
  • Ensure both feet are inside the sideline. 
  • Strike the ball diagonally over the net into the opposing service court. 
  • Proper positioning helps make effective serves and avoid mistakes that could cost points.  

So, when serving in pickleball, be careful to stand in the right place.

Practice Serving Different Areas of the Court 

It is crucial to practice hitting the ball to various parts of the field when playing pickleball if you want to improve your serving abilities. You will gain more confidence hitting the ball in various directions and improve your knowledge of where to position your serve by doing this. 

Serving on various parts of the court will also make it more difficult for your opponents to return your serve, which can give you an edge in a match. 

Pickleball Serving Rotation Rules

Here are some key serving rotation rules to learn for fair gameplay.

  1. Starting Position: The serving team begins the game with one player positioned in the right-hand serving court (even-numbered side) and the other player in the left-hand serving court (odd-numbered side).
  2. Serve Sequence: The player in the right-hand serving court initiates the serving sequence, delivering the first serve. After each point is scored, the serving team alternates serves between the two players.
  3. Faults and Side-Out: If the serving team commits a fault, such as serving out of bounds or into the non-volley zone, they lose the serve, and a side-out occurs. The opposing team then gains the serve and rotates their positions accordingly.
  4. Rotation within the Non-Volley Zone: After a side-out, the players on the serving team rotate within the non-volley zone (the kitchen), ensuring that each player has the opportunity to serve from both the right and left sides of the court during the game.
  5. Continued Rotation: The serving team continues to rotate positions each time they win a rally, always following the sequence of right and left serving courts.
  6. Switching Sides: When the serving team’s score reaches an even number, both teams switch sides of the court. This is done to account for any environmental factors that may affect gameplay on one side of the court.
  7. Alternating Sides for the First Serve: At the beginning of each new game or match, the team that starts serving alternates sides after each point is scored.

Pickleball Bounce Serve Rule

  • In pickleball, the bounce serve rule mandates that the serve must bounce once on both sides of the court, including the serving side and the receiving side, before the ball is struck by the receiving player.
  • The bounce serve ensures a fair and controlled start to the point by requiring both the server and the receiver to play the ball after it has bounced once on each side of the net. This double-bounce rule prevents the server from gaining an immediate advantage and encourages skillful returns.
  • To validate a legal serve, the ball must first bounce on the server’s side, clearing the non-volley zone, and then cross over the net, bouncing on the receiver’s side before the receiving player can return the serve.
  • The bounce serve adds a strategic element to the game as players aim to execute serves that bounce in challenging areas for their opponents, making it harder to return effectively.
  • The bounce serve rule contributes to the inclusive nature of pickleball, ensuring that players of varying skill levels can engage in the game without the fear of an overpowering serve.
  • By requiring a bounce on both sides, the rule prevents players from relying solely on powerful serves that may be difficult for opponents to return, promoting a more balanced and competitive match.
  • The bounce serve rule encourages players to develop and utilize a variety of serving techniques, fostering skill development and strategic play rather than relying solely on the speed or power of the serve.
  • Adherence to the bounce serve rule is essential for playing pickleball in accordance with official rules, and maintaining consistency across matches and tournaments.

Final Thoughts 

Thus, in order to play the game properly, it is essential to fully understand the pickleball serving rules.  You can improve your skills and have more fun playing by adhering to the rules for serving pickleball and honing your serve. 


Serves the ball in pickleball is called the “server,”

The server’s foot touching or crossing the baseline before striking the ball is known as a foot fault in pickleball.

There are several types of pickleball serve.

No, you can’t serve the pickleball overhand but underhand. You can hit the ball overhand when you are drinking the ball.

Yes, you can toss the ball up when serving in pickleball and let the ball down before hitting the serve.

Yes, you have to serve underhand only in pickleball. You can’t serve the ball overhand when serving.

  1. Right-Side Starting Position
  2. Diagonal Serve
  3. Faults Result in Loss of Serve
  4. Scoring Rotation
  5. Switching Sides on Even Scores

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