6 Pickleball Serve Tips That Will TRANSFORM Your Game Forever

Written by Adam (HV)

April 2, 2024

pickleball serve

I recently played with top pickleball pro, James Ignatowich. If you don’t know who that is, he was a standout pro in 2023 and he has one of the biggest serves on the pro tour.

My time with him inspired me to improve my serve so in this video I will share a simple step-by-step approach to improving your pickleball serve through progressions. By the end you’ll learn everything you need to take your serve to the next level and to scorch your opponents.

Also, be sure to watch the entire video because I’ll be sharing a few pro-level secret tips throughout that I learned from James and how you can get free pro level tips from him in the future.

Watch the full video here.

Pickleball Serve Tip #1: Have a Strategy

What’s the strategy of your pickleball serve?

The first thing you should know about the pickleball serve is that it’s all about consistency.

You should aim to get your serve in 80 or 90% of the time.

Once you have a handle on consistency, there are two things you should be focused on: 

  1. Forcing a tough return on your opponent
  2. Creating an easier third for your team

A difficult return is created when your opponent:

  • Hit the ball at an awkward contact point
  • Takes a step back
  • Or is pushed wide

So consistency first, then creating tough returns & easier thirds

Pickleball Serve Tip #2: Use Your Entire Body

If you really want to maximize your serve in pickleball, you must use your entire body

I see a lot of players who are starting out that just use their arm or their upper body. I call this the cornhole serve.

This may be good for consistency, but if you’re looking to apply pressure on your opponents and take it to the next level, you have to use your entire body. This is also called the kinetic chain and it’s all about pushing off the ground and transferring that force through your body and onto the ball. 

If you think about your body like a spring – to get the full effect of the spring, you have to push it all the way down. In the same way, with your body, you must use your full body to get the full effect of the kinetic energy.

Let’s break it down into two parts.

Part #1: The weight transfer

This is one of the most overlooked parts of the pickleball serve – if you’re just using your arm, you’re leaving a ton of power on the table. 

  • Start in a closed stance, 
  • push off your back foot, 
  • finish inside of the court

Part #2: The rotation 

When you rotate your torso and your shoulder, you can add more power to your serve – you can actually get more rotation by pulling your nondominant hand – this will help generate more rotation faster

When you put these two things together, you unlock more power on that serve

So let’s put it together for a better pickleball serve that utilizes the kinetic chain:

  • Feet apart
  • Closed stance
  • Rotate
  • Contact
  • Follow through and transfer your weight
  • Notice you don’t need a big backswing and my grip is normal

Remember:

When you transfer your weight and finish your pickleball serve inside of the court, you will always want to get back behind the line so that if your opponent returns your serve deep, you won’t be hitting the ball while backing up.

Pickleball Serve Tip #3: Serve the Ball Deep

Now that you’re getting power with your pickleball serve, you can’t stop there because if you just serve it hard and it lands short in the court, the ball will slow down and not put much pressure on your opponents.

Instead you need to focus on serving the ball deep landing in the last 3 feet of the court. 

You can practice serves by yourself: set up targets 3 feet from the baseline and aim to get the ball inside of those cones.

Start with height, and then dial in pace.

Pickleball Serve Tip #4: Add Topspin

When you serve with topspin, it can kick off the ground and forces your opponent to hit at an awkward contact point.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Hit the ball from low to high
  • Bring the buttcap into the ball as long as you can
  • Brush up on the ball

Remember when you practice these things, start with getting a feel for the mechanics, hit from low to high, brush up on the ball, but then bring it all together at the end.

Pickleball Serve Tip #5: Establish a Target

To make your serves even more deadly, focus on a target.

  • Aim for their weak hand
  • Aim for their body – make them decide
  • Aim for short angles

By mixing it up, you make it even more difficult for your opponent

Pickleball Serve Tip #6: Be Unpredictable

If your pickleball serve is the same every time, your opponent can prepare for it and adjust.

Instead, experiment with different heights, paces, and angles to be unpredictable.

If your opponent is comfortable, do something to make them uncomfortable

  • Experiment with height – throw in a lob serve
  • Experiment with angles

Bonus Pickleball Serve Tip: Serve the Point

Always remember to serve the point. If the score is 9-10-2 and you’re serving, don’t risk the rally with a big serve. Instead in that moment, get the ball in and aim to win.

The last thing you want to do is miss a serve when the game is on the line, so remember to always choose the right serve for the point.

Remember: You Control the Serve in Pickleball 

The next time you’re on the court, remember to put all of these ideas together for a more offensive pickleball serve:

  1. Have a strategy.
  2. Use your entire body.
  3. Serve the ball deep. 
  4. Use topspin.
  5. Establish a target.
  6. Be unpredictable.
  7. Serve the point.

Remember: consistency is key. Once you have 80-90% success, then start hitting more offensive serves.

 

path to better pickleball

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