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Pickleball Strategy: Adding Variety to Your Serve
Of all the things you want to create from your serve, keeping your opponent deep should be the main one. When your opponent is kept deep, they will have a tougher time hitting an accurate deep return.

1) Choose a Target

You should be aiming for at least the back third of the receiving court, and ideally, off to the wide side or up the middle. Focus on the depth of your serve and take accuracy as a bonus. Remember that ideally, your serve should place your opponent on the defensive so you can go on the offensive when you play the third shot in the rally.  

2) Vary the Delivery Angle

Create angles by varying where you stand when you serve. Stand close to the middle if you want to serve up the middle on the other side. Or stand out wide if you want to pull your opponent out wide. It is never a bad strategy to serve to your opponent’s backhand.

3) Use Your Body to Create Pace

Create pace on the serve by using your lower half of your body to have momentum going into the serve. Just do not use your arm/shoulder strength. With knee bend and stepping into the serve you are creating power the efficient way. For right handed players always make contact with your left foot forward. Vise versa for left handed players.

I think pace serves are the most effective serves while lob serves or short serves should be used very sparingly just to keep your opponent off balance.

4) Using Spin

Another serve that should have a good amount of pace on it is a spin serve. You can curve your serve to the right or the left by doing the following:

Right spin serve, from a right handed player.

Start your racquet at shoulder height out away from your body. As you are stepping forward with your left foot, drop the racquet downward from an outward to inward motion. Contact with the ball is just in front and lower than your right hip, with the follow through across your body ending up close to the left shoulder.

Left spin serve, from a right handed player.

Start your racquet back as much as possible behind your left hip. So your right arm is across your body, with the ball in your left hand drop the ball out front of your left hip as you step forward with your right foot. Racquet path goes from back and low on your left side across your body in an upward motion ending up high on your right side. This kind of across the body motion gives the ball a spin so it will curve to the left.

Keeping It Legal

Remember for all serves the rules of the game must be followed. Here they are as a reminder:

  • The serve must be made with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level
    • Underhand Defined: The arm must be moving in an upward arc and the paddle head shall be below the wrist when it strikes the ball
  • The top of the paddle face must be below the wrist
  • The server must have both feet behind the service line at the time of contact with the ball
  • The ball must be served to the diagonally opposite court
  • The ball must land clearly in the service area

Summary

Variance is the key – if your opponent has a pretty good idea what you’re going to do, they can plan and play their return more aggressively. Keep them reacting, not anticipating.

Have fun!