One of the first “rules” I was told in pickleball was to never miss a serve. In fact, I was told this was one of worst pickleball mistakes I could make. As time has gone on, I have learned I don’t believe that much.
Grading Pickleball Mistakes
Frankly, I’d rather miss a serve than miss a ball wide. What I mean is it’s more important to me to finish the point with a ball hit in the court then to miss a chance in the beginning. I am not saying that it isn’t important to develop a reliable serve. You likely won’t win if you miss your serve all the time.
However, I am suggesting that it is ok to take some risk on your serve sometimes to help start your point. Of course, I do not expect many players out there to be able to create enough power or spin to serve aces. Every so often you see that…but not very often. What I do want, from my serve, is for my opponent to take a step back or be moved off the court as they return. This may cause them to hit a weak, return. A shorter return of serve allows me to be in a more offensive position for my third shot. Either I am going to need less time coming in or my opponent will give me space to aim at their feet.
I don’t need to be hitting as hard as I can to create an effective serve. However, depth and placement are definitely key to creating more on my serve. I won’t lie, practicing serving is kind of boring. I find that many people just take it for granted, only “practicing” during the last minute of warm-up before a match. I also believe you will have more power and control if you loosen up your shoulders and move through the ball.
Make a Game of Practice
I want to encourage you to practice. You can do it alone, or work with a partner who works on their return of serve. Set targets for yourself as you serve and make a game out of the experience to keep fully engaged.
One such game is “call it”. You call out where you intend to serve it, “deep to your backhand” or “deep in the corner”. Immediately, your partner needs to call out where they intend to return it, for example, “deep down the middle”. Give yourself one point if you serve to the point you called out. Your practice partner gets one point for returning it to where he or she said they would. Continue till the first player earns 11 points, then switch.
It’s Not the Worst Pickleball Mistake
There is not one perfect answer on what you should do with your serve. Take the time to try some different things out and see what you can do with it. Of course, I do not advise throwing away your serve regularly…but I am saying that is it is not the end of the world either. Allow yourself to experiment. There is no harm, or shame, in trying.