Selkirk Sport - We Are Pickleball


Overcoming the ‘service yips’ in pickleball

By Brynn Grissom

on Apr 02, 2024

Professional pickleball player Rachel Rohrabacher prepares to serve the pickleball. She holds her SLK Halo high and a pickleball out in front of her.

Experiencing the "service yips," a sudden and unexplained loss of ability to serve accurately in pickleball, can be distressing for any player. 

This phenomenon, often marked by a loss of control and confidence in one's serving ability, can emerge unexpectedly and persist, leading players to question their competency and ability. 

However, with the right mindset, players can overcome the yips and begin acing the competition in no time. 

Step 1: Identify the issue

The first step in overcoming the yips is recognizing the problem without judgment of yourself. Players should understand that fluctuations in performance, including the onset of yips, are part of the sports experience. 

Seeking advice from fellow players and coaches can provide outside perspectives on what might be going wrong. However, it's essential to filter through this advice carefully, as not all suggestions may be beneficial or applicable to your specific situation

Step 2: Hit a mental reset 

A significant part of overcoming the yips involves a mental reset. Players should aim to relax their mind and reduce the pressure they put on themselves. If you experience the yips and put immense pressure on yourself every time you attempt a serve, you will only make the yips worse.

Techniques such as mindfulness, visualization, and setting realistic expectations for your performance can help ease the mental strain. Approaching serves without overthinking or fearing the outcome can gradually restore confidence.

Step 3: Experiment with new serving techniques 

Adapting or tweaking serving techniques can also offer a pathway out of the yips. Players might find success by changing their serve routine, experimenting with different types of serves (such as bounce serve instead of a drop serve), or adjusting their stance and grip. 

Sometimes, a minor change in technique can make a substantial difference, as it shifts your focus from the pressure of serving accurately to the mechanics of the serve itself.

Step 4: Exercise consistent practice and patience 

Consistent practice, with an emphasis on repetition and incremental improvement, is crucial. Players should allow themselves the time and space to work through their challenges without expecting immediate perfection. Celebrating small victories and progress can help rebuild confidence over time.

Step 5: Adopt a positive mindset

Maintaining a positive mindset is essential for overcoming the yips. Players should remind themselves of their skills and achievements in pickleball, recognizing that a temporary setback does not define their overall ability. 

Support from friends, coaches, and fellow players can bolster this positive outlook, providing encouragement and reassurance.

Step 6: Embrace the learning experience

Finally, experiencing and overcoming the yips can serve as a valuable learning experience. It can prompt players to explore new strategies, understand their playing style more deeply, and develop resilience against future challenges. 

Many players emerge from this period with a stronger, more versatile game and a greater appreciation for their ability to adapt and grow.

In conclusion, while the service yips can be a frustrating obstacle, they are not insurmountable. By approaching the problem with a positive, open mindset, seeking support, experimenting with techniques, and practicing patience, players can navigate their way through the yips, which will only help build their mental toughness. 

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