Have you ever had service yips? A steady and reliable serve is extremely important. You can’t score when the serve is not in the court! Developing a serve we can rely on should be at or near the top of our skill list. Once we have a reliable serve, we can work on depth, speed, placement, and spin, all of which are secondary to getting the serve in the box.
Learn the lob serve. Make the serve land deep in the court. It’s amazing how many people have difficulty with a lob serve.
Learn to hit soft and short serves. It’s amazing how many people have difficulty with a short, soft serve, especially when you’ve been serving them deep, hard serves.
Consider taking two or three steps towards the baseline before you serve to increase the pace. My buddy Dan Geenen has one of the best serves in the Valley. He starts his serve motion well behind the baseline, then takes several steps forward increasing his pace until he hits the ball, putting tremendous pressure on the returner.
Consider hitting side spin either left or right as a way to add variety to your serve. Swing low to high with increasing paddle head speed to create topspin. Be sure to follow through. Side spin serves jump away from our opponent. Top spin serves jump towards our opponent.
Practice serving. This doesn’t mean to mindlessly hit serves for 30 minutes. Go out and practice our reliable serve for a few minutes. Then work on direction and depth. Move on to adding pace and spin. Practice with a friend who is also interested in improving their serves. Help each other. Give feedback. Notice what works for your practice partner and incorporate it into your serves. Practice visualizing the target you want to hit. See it before you serve it.
Lastly, as in all of life, be mindful, purposeful, and in the present moment. I suggest taking two deep breaths before beginning the service motion. Allow the body to relax. Loose shoulders and lack of tension in the arms create a much more powerful and controlled serve. Visualize where the serve will land.
Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at firstname.lastname@example.org.