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Ten Trick Serves

In this video I demonstrate ten trick serves. Several of these are easy to learn. Some are silly, some are quite competitive.



1. Two flips of the paddle. This may be the most difficult serve to accomplish. Start by practicing these steps:

a. Flip the paddle with just one revolution and catch it by the handle. Work on keeping the paddle vertical when you flip it. Otherwise, the surface of the paddle will be affected by the air and wobble, making it difficult to catch. You’ll probably want to practice on a soft surface, so you don’t end up with something like this:


b. Once one spin becomes easy, learn to flip it for two revolutions.

c. With your non-dominant hand, throw a pickleball in the air at the exact same time you flip the paddle. At first, you probably won’t be able to catch the ball as you focus on flipping the paddle. To start, you can simply let the ball fall. The objective is to throw the ball at the exact same time as you throw the paddle.

d. Work on throwing the ball high enough that you can focus on catching the paddle before you catch the ball.

e. Hit the ball with the paddle.

f. Make a point of hitting the ball when the paddle is below your waist and below your wrist so it is a legal volley serve. In fact, I’m not sure the serve I’m showing in the video is actually legal.

2. Bounce the ball three (or more) times on the edge of the paddle before serving. The only hard part is bouncing the ball in a controlled manner. Once you master that, the rest is easy. Bouncing a ball on the edge of the paddle is good for eye-hand coordination in general, and will make you a better kitchen rally player. As in the previous serve, it is best to let the ball fall far enough that you can hit it below your waist and below your wrist to keep it legal. Notice that this may not be legal even if done ‘right.’ In competition, an opponent or referee could call it a distraction.

3. The next serve is totally legitimate. As you may know, with a bounce serve, you can use any kind of stroke you wish. In this case, I’m scrubbing the paddle up over the top of the ball at a 45 degree angle, to project forehand topspin. This is actually the same as an ordinary forehand topspin passing shot, but presented as a serve.

4. Notice the ridiculous bounce you can achieve with an extreme backspin serve such as demonstrated in the video. This is a little tricky to learn. The idea is to become very extreme. Notice my silly body position, and the degree to which I attempt to exaggerate the backspin. When totally successful, the ball bounces so weirdly that beginning and intermediate players can’t return it.

5. I don’t think there’s any point in a super-high lob serve, but they are fun. What’s even more fun is watching beginners get their timing wrong, often totally missing the ball as it bounces over their heads. There’s really no trick to practicing these. Just keep trying until you can bash them really high, yet they still land in the court.

6. Next we have a juggling serve. This is definitely the hardest one to master.

a. Learn three-ball juggling. You can find an easy way to learn right here: Three Ball Juggling.

b. Substitute the paddle for one of the balls. Notice that the paddle is thrown with a single spin from hand to hand. Work on keeping the paddle vertical so it doesn’t wobble in mid-air, making it hard to catch. If you haven’t already, you may want to practice this without the juggling at first. You may want to practice everything having to do with throwing a paddle over a soft surface. The single vertical spin is optional. You can throw it for two or more spins, you can throw it in a transverse plane, the sky is the limit.

c. Once you can juggle a paddle and two balls, throwing one ball high and serving it is not difficult. Again, to keep it legal, it is best to let the ball fall enough that it is below your wrist and below your waist.

Something else I did not demonstrate in this video is a variation where bouncing a ball off the edge of the paddle and juggling are combined, so for every toss of the paddle, a ball is bounced off the paddle’s edge before or during the next throw.

7. There’s no limit to what you can get away with in bounce serves. In the video, I’m serving with a forehand stroke while kneeling. It has no function other than goofiness.

78. Something totally legal that I didn’t remember to capture on the video is a double-bounce serve. The official USAPA pickleball rules specifically state that the ball can bounce as many times as you like. So, try dropping the ball, but letting it bounce twice before you hit it. This is surprisingly easy to accomplish.

8. Next you’ll see a volley serve in which I demonstrate rather extreme topspin. The paddle is scrubbing over the top of the ball with the face at a 45 degree angle. You can practice this serve until it is very fast. The ball clears the net by inches, and bounces deep toward the baseline in a way that’s difficult to achieve in any other kind of serve. Most beginning and many intermediate players cannot return this serve. Even top players can be put a little out of rhythm which will throw off their whole rally.

I used to believe there was no serve a top player couldn’t return easily. Therefore you’ll see a lot of the best players serving high and floppy. That seems to as well as anything more aggressive, as long as the ball bounces close to the baseline. That’s what I believed until I came across a 5.0 player who was serving with these low fast hard topspin serves. It may or may not work for you, but is a worthy experiment. Keep in mind the response to a low aggressive serve may be a very fast return, which your partner may not be able to handle in doubles, or which may even trouble you in singles.

9. The windmill is another serve that doesn’t have any place in serious pickleball, but makes people laugh. Interestingly, it results in a backspin with a bounce that may flummox many players. The only suggestion I have for this serve is to make it big. Use a huge grand gesture, not some half-way small circles of the paddle. Since it’s a clown move, do it like a clown!

10. I’m hesitant to include the backward under the legs serve because it is rather disrespectful. I was once accused of making fun of my opponents when using this serve. Well, I guess I was 🙂 As you can see in the video I didn’t get it right. It’s not hard to learn. It’s just that I haven’t practiced it.

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