Pickleball spin serves are a lot like kissing a frog; everyone knows about kissing but few people actually kiss a frog. And it is the same with putting some spin on a serve. Few people spin their pickleball serve and ever fewer apply pace with spin and even fewer can apply prodigious spin with pace and as a player with a tennis background, this was immediately baffling to me.
When I first started playing this ever so addictive game,
I pretty much made it up as I went along with the odd word or advice about how
to play the game from the gentleman that introduced me. However, there was no
official rated player or pickle coach advice in how to play or serve with my
foray into the game.
It was all about having fun and learning the game off my own paddle so-to-speak and looking back I am more than happy with that start because I wasn’t indocrined with the advice I see and hear (primarily on youtube) about serving – that is to just get it in.
Certainly now I love the magic, the stroke play, the game plan that I see in the top players but none more so than those that are aggressive at the game, particularly those that are not afraid to put some heat into their serves.
Traditionally, the advice on pickle ball serves from those that coach it and players alike is to take the no risk, just get it in approach. In part because there is no second serve like there is in tennis and if you don’t get it in play off of your serve then you won’t have the chance to score.
It then follows that when you get your serve in, the opposition players have a chance to lose the point. If play is successfully engaged then suddenly somehow it is not risky. The thinking here behind the advice to engage play is to get to the short game so that you can dink your way patiently until the right opportunity arises out of the opposing players mistake and you will put one away to win the point.
The point here if I can say is that this is just as or if not more riskier play than to start the play with not just pickleball spin serves but serves that make the return harder for the receiver.
Sure, it is harder at first to serve with spin applied to the ball than it is to simply just lob a serve in to just get it in, but like a baby who strives to walk, it is only hard at first. A baby crawls and falls over and gets up and crawls again. Then they manage to stand up with the assistance of mum or a chair leg and then fall over but pretty soon they stand on their own and take a few steps before they fall and before you know it they simply get up and walk without so much as a second thought.
And that is how I view Pickleball spin serves. If you practice the way you want to play then soon enough you are playing the way you practice.
And why practice to get good at pickleball spin serves?
Because mastery of them adds another very effective winning dimension to your game. A normal just get it in type of serve is a pretty straight forward serve to return but applying spin suddenly makes a return more challenging which really doesn’t take any revelation to acknowledge. And while the argument might be that top rated players get good at being able to return such serves, doesn’t remove the fact that they are still more challenging to return which in turn will show benefits to your game.
So what type of spin can be applied and how do you apply it?
Basically there are three options:
· Top spin – (an elevated option to top spin is right or left spin – for a right hander however left spin is much more difficult to master and a serve with a lot of top spin is challenging to do legally and stay true to the serving rules and won’t be discussed here)
· No spin
· Backspin which some refer to as a cut shot or slice because most backspin shots will veer slightly.
A NO spin serve pretty much needs no training or instruction. Just hit a legal serve with the traditional underhand follow through and you have a no spin serve.
Top spin serve
To apply tops spin means to get the ball rotating forward during flight so that it skittles a little on its bounce which means to say that it will bounce lower than a no spin serve.
Top spin requires a low to high strike on the ball with the paddle to get it spinning in the right direction and the more you try to apply the closer you get to breaking the serving rules so this is technically limiting.
Applying right or left spin requires swiping the ball on contact in the direction that you want it to go and the body mechanics of doing so for a right hander is that it is harder to do for left spin.
Back spin serve
To apply back spin means to get the ball rotating backwards during flight so that it bounces higher than a no spin serve. In practical play however a back spin is more often a cut or slice which is where the ball will bounce like a back spin but will veer or cut left on the bounce or cut right on the bounce.
Back spin requires a high to low strike on the ball with the paddle to get it spinning in the right direction. A cut or slice shot will see the ball struck on more of a high to low side swipe on the ball with the paddle.
Pickleball Spin Serves might be difficult for some to master, particularly a top spin when serving underhand and complying fully with pickleball serve rules, however it can be mastered with practice.
Again, this takes practice but have faith, pickleball spin serves are a fantastic way to take your game to another level so stick with it, you will be glad you did.
Pickleball Serving drills are an opportunity to capitalize on one of the most overlooked opportunities there is in the game. It is not a crime to become good at serving – very good in fact! You can read more about Pickleball Serving drills – The Most Underutilized Opportunity There is in Pickleball here
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