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Tips for the Yips! … Is your Pickleball serve in need of repairs?


By Stephen Bass

on Jun 12, 2023

Two of the most important parts of any Pickleball game are the serve and return of serve. Points can only be scored if a proper serve is made to start a rally and the return of serve has to be inbounds to engage the teams in a battle to earn the next point or loss of serve.

A missed serve is a missed opportunity to score points that might be hard to come by throughout the game.

Some of us have been there. Early in a match or throughout a game and we can’t seem to get our serve to land in. Wasted opportunities. More pressure on our partner if we are playing doubles and one error and our opportunity to score is lost unless we can defend and get that serve back quickly.

Mine came during a recent tournament. I was only serving at about 50% and we were stuck on our score for what seemed forever. My lack of serving accuracy resulted in a   quick 2 and out of that tournament and I needed help to fix this problem. 

Where do you start? Mechanics? Drills? Games? 

Jumping into playing games or exhibition matches can just got more frustrating. Practice on the court is the best way to correct any issue and drills and more drills are needed to get a better feel for where your serving mechanics need fine tuning.

So grab a partner or head out to a free court on your own and take as many balls as you can find and put them in a pail and be prepared to serve until you see an improvement!

If you are looking for advanced serving drills, Selkirk TV has you covered with tips and drills from top pros, including this video from former Wimbledon Champion turned pickleball pro, Joanne Russell:

Three types of serves to try!

Use your opposite foot from your serving hand to point in the direction of serving box you are aiming for and try serving from different parts of your serving court. The outside corner, the middle and the inside corner near the T line. See what works best for you.

  • The standard “Bowling serve” is the most common type of serve. Dropping the ball directly in front of your paddle and making contact below your hip for a legal serve. Swinging in a straight circular motion up-down then up as you follow through after making contact with the ball. Try 10-15 attempts at this serve and keep track of your success. Don’t worry about location of where your serve ended up except if it was out. Then move to the opposite serving side and try another 10-15 serves and take note of your success.
  • Serve number two (The Bounce Serve) takes advantage of the new rule change allowing the ball to bounce before impact from your serving motion. Drop the ball from shoulder height letting gravity work its magic and the ball will bounce up in front of you as you deliver an underhand sweeping motion “bowling type” delivery and attempt to serve to the opposite diagonal court as deep as you can deliver. Again, try 10-15 serves from each side of the court and track your success. 
  • Serve number three (Side Arm Bounce) which I found more successful for myself, involves a new bounce serve. Drop the ball from shoulder height or where you feel comfortable, but allow the ball to fall to the side of your body where your forehand can make contact in a legal side arm motion similar to low drive shot. The bounce & drive serve can be effective in hitting into a head wind during outdoor play or just keeping the ball low and making the serve more challenging for your opponent. Try hitting the same amount of 10-15 serves from each side of the court and see which type feels more comfortable and with the best accuracy.

Once you find the most consistent and comfortable style of serve, keep practicing until you are game ready to serve 90% or more.  Then return to the courts for your regular drill and practice sessions and make sure you spend at least 5-10 minutes on serving to keep your success rate high!

I found my serve again after using the bounce drop and side arm forehand or backhand and brought my success rate back up to 90% and was tournament ready again after a few weeks of practice. I hope you find your serve again soon and toss those Yips away!   

Find Additional Serving Tips and Drills on Selkirk TV's Youtube Channel!

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The author, Ken Wasiuta is an avid Pickleball player, instructor, referee and promoter of Selkirk Sports and Pickleball in North America.

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