How Does Serving Work In Pickleball?

In pickleball, serving plays a crucial role in starting each point. Both singles and doubles games follow similar serving rules, but there are some differences in the rotation of servers in doubles play. Here’s a detailed explanation of how serving works in pickleball:

Serve initiation: The game starts with the player on the right side of the court (in the right service court) serving the ball. In doubles, the team’s first server starts the game, and the second server gets their turn after the first server loses a point.

Underhand serve: The serve must be an underhand motion, with the paddle contacting the ball below the server’s waist level. The server’s arm must be moving in an upward arc at the point of contact.

Ball contact: The server must strike the ball with their paddle before it bounces, ensuring a clean hit without any interference or obstruction.

Service court: The server must aim to land the ball in the diagonal service court on the opposite side of the net. The ball must clear the non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen, which is a 7-foot (2.13 meters) area on both sides of the net. The ball must bounce once in the receiving court before the receiving player can return it.

Feet positioning: At the moment the server contacts the ball, both of their feet must be behind the baseline, and they should not step on or over the baseline until the ball is struck.

Scoring: In pickleball, points can only be scored by the serving team. If the serving team wins the rally, they score a point and continue to serve. If the receiving team wins the rally, no points are scored, and the serve switches to the other team (in singles) or the second server on the serving team (in doubles).

Server rotation (doubles): In doubles play, the first server serves until they lose a point. Then, the second server on the same team serves until they lose a point, after which the serve switches to the other team. After the first service rotation, both players on each team serve in turn before the serve switches to the other team.

Side switching: Players switch sides of the court after one team scores 6 points in an 11-point game or 8 points in a 15 or 21-point game. The team that first reaches these point thresholds gets to switch sides.

By following these rules and guidelines, players ensure fair and consistent gameplay during pickleball matches.