Pickleball Serving Rules

Pickleball Serving Rules 2023

Master Pickleball Serving Rules and Techniques in 2023

Understanding Standard Volley Serve and Drop Serve in Pickleball

Rules for Standard Pickleball Serve

Are you new to pickleball and wondering about serving rules? Are you an experienced player looking to improve your game? In either case, you’ve come to the right place! Here is our complete guide to mastering pickleball serving rules and techniques for 2023.

Pickleball serving can currently be done one of two ways: the standard volley serve or the drop serve. The standard volley serve involves hitting the ball out of the air from your hand. The drop serve allows you to drop the ball (not bounced or thrown up into the air) onto the court and can be hit after the ball bounces. The drop serve was first allowed in 2021 (Rule #4.A.8) and at first was provisional but now is permanent.

There has been some discussion that the drop serve should become the only serve allowed since it avoids all the “illegal” serve controversy and referees having to determine whether a player’s serve is violating the serving rules. So, which serve should you use? Well, personally, it is recommended to learn both. If you only learn the drop serve and they retract it for some reason, then you will be forced to learn the other serve. It’s also kind of nice to have that variety during a game to be able to switch between the standard and drop serve.

Pickleball Serving Rules Restrictions

The following are the restrictions on how the original pickleball serve is made:

  • When a ball is being struck, the server’s arm must be shifting in an upward arc/an upward motion – not sideways like hitting a groundstroke or side arming it. Forehand or backhand can be used.
  • The ball must come into contact with the paddle below the waist.
  • The head of the paddle must not be above the top of the wrist when contact is made with the ball.

Pickleball Drop Serve Rules

The following are the restrictions on how the drop serve is made:

  • You can only drop the pickleball – you cannot propel it down or upward nor can you spin it.
  • You can hit it after as many bounces as you like.
  • You can drop it within the baseline boundary line as long as your feet are.
  • You can drop the ball from any height that you can naturally without aid – no stepping onto a chair and then dropping it. Did that really need to be stated? 🙂
  • None of the other rules from the standard/traditional serve applies to the drop serve.

Pickleball Spin Serve Rules

The server shall use only one hand to release the ball to perform the serve. If the ball is visibly spun by the server during the release, the part(s) of the hand contacting the ball must be bare. Although the USAP allows manipulation of the ball for spin, the PPA has outlawed any kind of spin made by your hand. So, if you are in a PPA tournament, you won’t be able to spin the ball with your hand in any way when serving.

Spin serves of any kind are banned by USA Pickleball in 2023. As of January 1, 2023, players will only be able to drop and strike the ball without adding any additional spin, even from the hand holding the ball.

Other Pickleball Rule Changes in 2023

Apart from the serving rules, there have been several other rule changes in pickleball for 2023. Let’s take a look at them:

  • Wrong Score Called (4.K): If a player thinks a wrong score has been called, they may stop play to ask for a correction before the ball is served. If it has been served, the rally is to be played out, and the score correction (if any) is made before the next serve occurs.
  • A Dropped Ball (7.N): In non-officiated matches, it is not uncommon for a player to carry an extra ball. If an extra ball is carried, it must not be visible to the opponent. If a player accidentally drops an extra ball during a rally, it will result in a fault. This does not apply in an officiated match because the referee is responsible for removing any extra pickleballs from play.
  • Medical Time-outs Called by a Referee (10.H.2.a): If a referee, in the interest of player safety, determines that either medical personnel or the Tournament Director should be consulted for a player health issue, that time-out is not chargeable to the player as a medical time-out. The player retains the right to call their own medical time out later in the match, if needed.
  • Verbal Warnings (13.G.1): A referee may now issue verbal warnings for more than just profanity. Any situation that could result in a Technical Warning may instead be addressed by the referee as a verbal warning. Only one verbal warning per match, no matter what the infraction, may be issued to a team, or player in singles.
  • Calling the Score After a 15 Second Warning (10.A.5): Instead of a referee calling the score immediately after the 15-second warning expires, the referee will call the score after the players are ready or should be ready.
  • When to Assess a Technical Warning or Foul (13.G.3.e): Referees are empowered to issue Technical Warnings or Technical Fouls for various reasons but it has been unclear exactly when a technical should be announced. The 2023 rules now make it clear that a referee will not stop a rally to call a technical warning or foul on an offending team. Any technical warnings or fouls will be assessed after the rally is over.
  • Earbuds (11.P): While some sports allow coaching during active play, pickleball does not. Since it is possible that a player could receive coaching via earbuds, earbuds will not be permitted on the court during tournaments with the exception of hearing aids.
  • Tournament Score for a Retirement (12.F.6.a): The score recorded for a player or team that elects to “retire’ from a match has been revised to allow the actual score of the match for that team to be recorded. A team retiring may play additional matches in their bracket if any are warranted.

Serving FAQ:

  • Can you toss the ball up when serving in pickleball? You cannot toss the ball up. You may only drop the ball and hit it in the air or off of the bounce.
  • Can you spin the ball when serving in pickleball? You are not allowed to add any spin to the ball from your hand. The spin must come from the paddle when making contact.

Pickleball Serving Rules

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, mastering the pickleball serving rules and techniques is crucial for playing the game. With the drop serve becoming permanent, it’s a good idea to learn both the standard volley serve and the drop serve. Apart from the serving rules, there have been several other rule changes in pickleball for 2023 that you should be aware of. Stay up-to-date on the latest pickleball rules to improve your game and stay competitive!

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