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Best singles pickleball serving strategies — Tips from pro Catherine Parenteau on Selkirk TV

By Catherine Parenteau

on Sep 29, 2023

Catherine Parenteau shares how to serve successfully in pickleball singles

In a new 7-part series on Selkirk TV, Catherine Parenteau is breaking down the elements of a successful singles game. In Episode 5, Catherine shares how to set the tone for each point with your serve. 

Singles pickleball serving strategies 

One of the best ways to set the tone for a singles rally is to hit a good serve. In singles, your serve should be hit as deep as possible and with power. Because you want to keep your opponent back at the baseline, a powerful, deep serve increases your chances of winning each point. 

It’s also important to mix up the serves you give because you want to keep your opponents guessing. There are several ways to achieve this. 

First, hit serves to your opponent’s forehand and backhand. Before you serve, check out your opponent’s court positioning. Players will often cheat to one side or the other depending on whether they want their return shot to be a forehand or backhand shot. If you see them cheating in one direction, hit the ball toward them so they are forced to hit the shot opposite to their preference. 

If you notice your opponents are quick when moving laterally, you can attempt to hit the ball wide, which will open up a lot of the court for your following shot. 

Next, switch up the speed with which you hit the ball. If you always serve with the same speed and power, your opponent will quickly know what to expect. While a powerful serve will likely be your go-to, mix in some serves that have a slice, flat, or even moonball motion. 

Finally, play to your strengths. For example, if you favor your forehand for your first shot after the serve, you’ll likely want to serve from a court positioning that sets you up to make a good forehand shot for your follow-up. 

This entails standing near the middle line on even serves and the far left sideline on odd serves so you have more of the court open for your forehand shot while receiving your opponent’s return. 

Drills to improve your pickleball serve

Practice serving deep

Have your drilling partner stand behind the baseline in the opposite corner from which you’re serving. Start by serving as close to the baseline as possible. You can set up cones or tape about 5 feet away from the baseline to help you visualize the area in which you should hit. 

Mix up your court placement

Once you feel comfortable hitting deep serves, split the back of the court near the baseline into three specific zones. Again, you can use cones or tape. 

Focus on hitting your serve into each of the three zones. Before you serve, think about the situations in which you would need to serve to each of the three zones. This will help you visualize game scenarios so you feel more comfortable selecting your serve during a match. 

Mix up your court positioning

Practice serving from different spots on the court depending on which shot you would like to make after your serve. If you’d like to hit a backhand shot, stand on the portion of the court that gives you the most free space to hit one after your opponent’s return. 

Serve from the chosen point, have your partner hit a return, and then follow up with your shot. Were you successful in hitting the shot you wanted? If not, think about why and run the drill again. 

Hit the third shot to the opening

Now that you’ve practiced all the components of good serves, mix them up in your drilling. Select a serve to send to your partner, thinking about where the opening will be after they hit their return. Serve the ball and then hit your partner’s return to the opening. 

Was the opening where you thought it would be? If so, move on to a different serve selection. If not, decipher where the problem was and try again. 

Keep up with previous episodes 

Follow the 7-video installment to learn everything you need to know to dominate the singles game. Check out the previous episodes below: 

Download the Selkirk TV app HERE to watch the complete episode and many other Selkirk TV original shows, podcasts, lesson series from the pros, and much more. 

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