5 Common Mistakes That KILL Your Pickleball Return of Serve

Written by Adam (HV)

April 7, 2023

pickleball return of serve

In pickleball, every shot matters, but in terms of a point, some shots carry more weight. For example the second shot is very important because if you miss this shot, you lose a point. 

Today we’re going to cover how to maximize your pickleball return of serve and look at a few common mistakes that could be holding you back and costing you points.

Watch the full video here.

3 Goals with Every Pickleball Return of Serve

With every serve return there are a few goals you want to keep in mind:

  1. Depth – With pickleball serve returns it’s important to get the ball deep. Because it has to bounce, this will keep your opponents pinned on the baseline, making their 3rd shot more difficult.
  2. Time – After hitting your return, you want to get to the non-volley zone. With your return, you want to give yourself time to get to the net.
  3. Consistency – A missed pickleball return of serve will cost you a point. It’s important to use smart technique that you can use every time to get the ball in.

Pickleball Return of Serve Mistake #1: Standing Too Close

This may sound simple, but this is one of the most common mistakes with pickleball serve returns. When you stand too close, a deep serve will push you back and force you to hit the ball while moving backwards.

Instead, you want to leave adequate space between you and the baseline. This will give you the ability to hit the ball out front. But be sure to watch for short returns if your opponent is known for this. 

Pickleball Return of Serve Mistake #2: Short Returns

A shallow pickleball return of serve invites your opponents to the net and opens you up for attacks. Instead, you want to look to return the ball deep to the back two feet of the court. A deep return will not only make your opponent’s third shot more difficult, but it will set up the rally in your favor.

Pickleball Return of Serve Mistake #3: Low Returns

After you hit your pickleball return of serve, you want to get to the net, but if your return is hit low and hard, your opponent will be able to respond and catch you in the transition zone. Instead, you want to give the ball plenty of lift so you have time to get to the NVZ.

Pickleball Return of Serve Mistake #4: Hesitating

A great way to get stuck in transition is to stop and watch your shot. Watching your shot will do nothing to improve it. Instead you want to return and run to the NVZ.

Pickleball Return of Serve Mistake #5: Poor Technique

Because a pickleball return of serve could cost you a point, it’s no time to relax on your mechanics. If your returns are inconsistent, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your mechanics. Here are a few things to remember when returning the serve:

  • Beat the ball to the spot – if you’re late to the ball, it will only create issues
  • Set your feet first and swing second – if you swing while your feet are moving, this could create errors
  • Hit the ball just as it descends – the ball has less pace at the descent and your return will be easier
  • Hit the ball out front from low to high in your optimal contact zone – if it’s too close or too far away, this may result in an error
  • Make contact in the sweet spot of your paddle with your paddle facing where you want the ball to go

path to better pickleball

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