As a new player, learning the best pickleball serves is one of the most crucial parts of pickleball. It’s one of the first things that beginner pickleball players should learn and it’s something even professional players continue to work on.
Once you’ve sorted out your pickleball wardrobe and found a pickleball paddle, you’ll probably spend the majority of your time on the court working on your serving technique. The pickleball serving rules seem to be quite simple when you read them, but it can be tricky to apply said rules when you actually practice them. Don’t let that scare you off, it’s one of the only things about the game that you need to wrap your head around!
What makes learning to serve in pickleball harder than the rest of the things you learn about the game is that the best pickleball serves are constantly changing. If you’ve been playing pickleball for a short amount of time or even a long time, you no doubt have had several debates during a game about serves! When that happens, just make sure you remember your pickleball etiquette! So, what are the best pickleball serves?
A Brief History of Pickleball
First, let’s quickly go over the history of pickleball. Like many of the world’s great inventions, pickleball accidentally came about. Former congressman and lieutenant governor Joel Pritchard invented the game with his friends Bill Bell and Barney McCallum one afternoon at Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA.
The group wanted to play badminton but could not find the shuttlecock. So they improvised. Finding a perforated plastic ball instead, they lowered the net to ground level and fashioned some impromptu paddles from leftover plywood.
In other words, they created the game by stitching together elements from several different games: hard paddles like ping-pong, played on a badminton court with a tennis-style net using a Wiffle ball. This Frankenstein approach gave the sport its name.
According to Joel Pritchard’s wife (Joan), she started calling the game pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.”
This earliest version of the game had no actual rules and simply provided a means to hit a ball back and forth over the net. Little by little, the activity gained structure, eventually establishing rules that cobbled together tennis and ping pong elements with a few minor tweaks.
From those humble beginnings, the sport has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, gaining the most popularity in the US and Canada. Barney McCallum founded the first official pickleball company Pickle-Ball, Inc., in 1972, fashioning the first wooden paddles using a bandsaw in his basement.
By 1976, the sport had gained nationwide popularity in the US, with Tennis magazine publishing an article called “America’s newest racquet sport.” The first tournament took place that year in Washington, and it has only grown from there.
In 1984 the first official Pickleball association was formed with the express intent to organize and grow the game. Today the sport is not just a hobby but a staple of physical education curricula across North America. Courts have begun to crop up in Europe and Asia as well.
Are you looking for more information on what pickleball is? Then, check out our guide, What Is Pickleball?
Best Pickleball Serves
Here are some of the best pickleball serves.
#1 – The Power Serve
The Power serve has a variety of different names, two of the most popular being The Rip and The Drive. Not many pickleball serves have that many different names. But, almost everyone who plays the game has their favorite power serve. Whatever name you want to give it, the power serve is designed as a low, hard serve that forces your opponent to react quickly.
#2 – Centerline Serve
You may have noticed when you play a game of pickleball you get into a rhythm and anticipate how your opponent will serve. I like the centerline serve because it is a nice changeup from the regular serves that you do most of the time. The overall goal of doing a centerline serve is to change angles on your opponent and force them to make a move they weren’t ready for.
#3 – Kitchen Corner Serve
The kitchen corner serve is a serve that’s exactly how it sounds. The goal of this serve is to hit the pickleball ball just outside the corner of the opponent’s kitchen. If you place the ball well, your opponent’s momentum should lead them off the court and provide you with an excellent third shot if they can hit it back over the net onto your side.
#4 – Lob Serve
The lob serve is another serve that goes by many names; you may have heard of these terms. It’s also called the sky serve, the high soft serve, the moon ball, etc. The goal of this serve is to hit the ball high and deep to frustrate the heck out of your opponents.
#5 – Spinning Serves
Perhaps some of the best serves a pickleballer can learn are spin serves. However, I would like to mention that pickleball rules change year-to-year, this means you’ll need to catch up on the latest from the USA Pickleball Association. A popular serve that you may have heard of is the chainsaw serve. This serve requires players to use the paddle to add spin to the ball. It was popular for several years but it was banned in 2022. Just keep in mind that if you’re going to develop a spin serve, make sure it’s legal and don’t be surprised if it’s made illegal in the future.
Paddle Features to Keep in Mind
Of course, if you’re reading this article you’re most likely looking specifically for information on the best pickleball serves. However, I’m still going to share pickleball paddle features to keep in mind because the proper paddle is what’s going to give you the best serves.
If there’s one vital feature that you should pay attention to other than control, it’s weight. Weight determines how the paddle feels when you’re holding it, and it affects how well you swing.
Pickleball paddles can range significantly in this area, from anywhere from six to fourteen ounces. Lightweight paddles are those under 7.3 ounces, while medium ranges from 7.3 ounces to 8.4 ounces. Anything over 8.5 is considered heavy.
Every pickleball player’s goal is to take accurate, controlled shots, and finding the right grip is paramount to achieving that goal.
There is some debate about long vs. short grips. You’ll hear that longer grips offer more stability, while shorter grips deliver greater control. But in our humble opinion, the grip should be neither too long nor too short. For most people, a good rule of thumb is that it be roughly the same size as your palm and comfortable to hold.
The paddle’s width is another feature to consider, as it influences how well you can hit the sweet spot. In most cases, paddle width should not exceed twenty-four inches.
Some pickleball paddles have edge guards or protection for the edge of the paddle against chips and damage. Most people prefer medium-sized edge guards, though others go with large sizes, which increase the hitting surface. The trade-off with large edge guards is that the pickleball paddle’s weight increases, which may not be something you want.
Pickleball Paddle Frequently Asked Questions
Again, you’re here for information on the best pickleball serves but now that you know important features to keep in mind here are some common paddle questions to review to ensure that your paddle is right for you so you can serve the best you can.
How Long Do Paddles Last?
The lifespan of a paddle depends on the materials and construction. For example, if the paddle’s interior is thin and the exterior is too smooth, your paddle may not be suitable for long-term use. However, it can be good to get you started.
You should also consider that the area between the paddle and the handle is crucial. That can be a weak spot on a lot of paddles, and that can cause your paddle to break even when the surface is still usable.
If possible, feel the paddle and inspect the edges and the handle. Then, you can determine if it’s durable enough to last through many games.
What Paddles Give You More Power?
Heavier paddles have the most power. While lightweight paddles can be easier to hold and maneuver, they won’t be as strong.
You can also look for super-heavy-weight paddles for even more power. But if you just need an average amount of that, you can get a medium-weight paddle.
What Paddles Offer More Control?
While a larger paddle is more powerful, you may sacrifice control. Smaller and lighter paddles are better for players who need to respond quickly in a game.
You should look for a lightweight or medium-weight paddle for more control. A smaller head can help reduce the overall weight so that you can have more control over your shots.
Can a Good Paddle Help a Beginner?
Many things can help beginner pickleball players, and the right gear is essential. You don’t need the most expensive paddle, but you do need a good-quality one that won’t break the first time you use it.
As a beginner, you may want to start with a lighter paddle. While it won’t be as powerful, it won’t strain your wrist. Once you start playing more, you can decide if you want a heavier, more powerful paddle.
How Should You Hold Your Paddle?
While playing, try to keep your paddle near your chest. That will help improve your reaction time to make more shots early on.
You should also consider stretching before you play. Many pickleball injuries are preventable by warming up. Start by walking or jogging around the court, then stretch out your wrists and arms to help avoid fatigue.
Make sure your paddle feels comfortable and secure in your hand. If the handle feels too short, you may not have the best pickleball paddle for you. On the other hand, it shouldn’t feel like you have to strain to hold the paddle securely.
Are Expensive Paddles Better?
While many expensive paddles are of excellent quality, they aren’t always the best. Therefore, you should consider your current paddleball experience and your needs.
Sometimes, paddles are more expensive because they’re thicker and heavier. So if you want something lighter, you may prefer a more affordable option.
Now that you know about illegal pickleball serves, hopefully, any questions you had were answered, and you’re now closer to figuring out how to avoid illegal pickleball serves and serve properly.
Looking for more? Here are some other articles I put together:
- The Best Pro Pickleball Paddles
- Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleball Paddles
- The Best Pickleball Paddles for Women
- Composite vs. Graphite Pickleball Paddles
- Can You Play Pickleball on a Tennis Court?
- Best Pickleball Paddle for Beginners
- Pickleball Strategy – Advanced
- What Is the 2 Bounce Rule in Pickleball?
- What is the Double Bounce Rule in Pickleball?
- Pickleball vs. Tennis, What is the Difference?
- The Best Women’s Pickleball Shoes
- The Best HEAD Pickleball Paddles
- Pickleball Serving Rules, Techniques, & Strategies
- Pickleball Volley Rules
- What is a Fault in Pickleball?
- Best Pickleball Paddle in 2021
- Men’s Pickleball Shorts
- Engage Pickleball vs. Onix Pickleball
- The Best Pickleball Shoes for Men
- Onix Pickleball