Pickleball Serving Rules – referenced and condensed from the OFFICIAL TOURNAMENT RULEBOOK Section 4 – Service Rules
Pickleball Serving Rules 4.A to 4.F.5 steps you through the nitty gritty of serving but here are the fundaments when it comes to serving a pickleball.
You must use an underhand stroke and the ball must be struck below waist level. Waist level is now defined as your belly button or navel to be more accurate.
An underhand stroke means that your arm is moving in an upward arc. This simply means that you cannot swing overhead or sideways to serve. However a slightly confusing at first limiting factor to just how sideways you can be in addition to the requirement to be below the belly button is that your paddle head cannot be above any part of line formed where the wrist joint bends.
Confusing at first until you look at yourself in the in the mirror holding a paddle that reflects this rule. In order to satisfy this serving rule the paddle head cannot be lifted to the horizon by more than about 45 degrees from the direct down position in your underhanded stroke. Otherwise the highest point of the paddle head (the hitting surface) will be above your wrist and the more you bend your wrist the higher this paddle head will be.
Again, to fully understand these Pickleball Serving Rules simply stand in front of a mirror with a paddle in your hand and begin to raise the paddle sideways until you see where the head of the paddle is above your wrist.
The rule is pretty easy for most to comply with but could be a problem for some particularly those that serve backhanded.
You must be inside the sideline and centerline and behind
the base line when you strike the ball to serve and you cannot touch inside the
court (usually with your foot – unless you fall over) until after you hit the
You must hit the ball before it bounces which means to say that you have to drop it from your hand to hit it.
A legal serve needs to clear the net and land in the recievers court or the lines that define it but not the kitchen line. A ball that lands on the kitchen line is not a legal serve and is defined as a fault.
Defining service faults further…
If during the service, it is a fault if:
· The server misses the ball when trying to hit it and subsequently the ball hits the ground. It is not however a fault if the server simply drops the ball and does not swing at it.
· The served ball touches any permanent object (such as a nearby or overhead tree), or a permanent fixed side post.
· The served ball touches the server or server’s partner, or anything they are wearing or holding.
· The served ball lands on the non-volley line or at first hits the net and then lands on the non-volley line or inside the non-volley zone.
· The served ball lands outside the service court.
A let is a term that effectively means that the serve is
A let happens when:
· A served ball touches the net, the strap, or the band across the top of the net and lands in the service court.
· The ball is served when the receiver is not ready.
· The served ball hits the net and strikes the receiver or the receiver’s partner.
· Any player in the game or the referee calls a time out (often a call of ‘let’) because a person, object or thing causes interference or distraction by coming onto or within the playing area.
NOTE 1: If a player calls a let for a ‘net let’ and it is appealed to the referee that is did not touch the net, the referee if in agreeance, will award a point to the serving team
NOTE 2: There is no limit to the number of lets that can be served but in practicality this is seldom more than two in a row.
So what makes for an illegal serve?
Illegal Pickleball Serves for some are a topic of debate and rightly so and not for wanting to serve illegally but to maximize the opportunity given to us as when we take serve. Learn more about Illegal Pickleball serves. (Link)
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