What Is An Underhand Serve?

Pickleball is a highly unique sport that, while it may share some similarities with tennis, has helped to make it a wholly unique sport unto itself.

There are a number of moves, techniques, and rules that help to make pickleball identifiable, but picking out these unique things can often be difficult for people new to the sport, or those watching it. 

What Is An Underhand Serve?

Certain moves are better recommended to be performed in pickleball than in tennis, while others cannot be performed at all! Are you trying to make sense of the pickleball rules yourself? You’ve come to the right place.

You’re probably reading this now because you want to know what counts as an underhand serve within pickleball, right? Well, join us down below, because we are going to tell you everything you need to know! 

What Is An Underhand Serve In Pickleball?

An underhand serve, within the context of pickleball, refers to hitting the ball with an underhand motion, with your arm swinging upwards to connect with the ball once it has been dropped from higher up.

Technically, the underhand serve in Pickleball is the only valid type of serve in the sport, as all serves must be done using an underhand motion!

How Do You Pull Off An Underhand Serve In Pickleball?

In order for an underhand serve to be legal in Pickleball, it is important that contact with the ball is only made below the waist (You might also want to check out What Is A Let In Pickleball?).

Most players choose to drop the ball using their less dominant hand from around chest height and then arc their paddle hand up to meet the ball halfway.

The paddle must travel from low to high in order to meet the ball halfway, which is what allows the ball to be hit to arc over the net. 

It is important that you perform an underhand serve correctly in Pickleball, as the rules around serving are very strict, and serving incorrectly, such as allowing the paddle hand to travel above the waist, will result in a penalty.

Generally, you should aim to make sure that the highest point of the paddle does not go any higher than the wrist. This will help you to always hit below the waist! 

You are also allowed to drop the ball first and allow it to bounce before performing the underhand swing. This is great if you find hitting underhand serves difficult from the standard position, as it gives you a greater window to hit the ball.

Of course, hitting the ball is only part of the task, as you also need to make sure that the ball also heads over to the other side of the court and hits the service box.

If the ball lands anywhere other than the service box, it is considered ‘out’ and could incur a penalty for the serving team. The best way to get better at hitting this zone is simply to practice!

However, if you find that you are also having trouble with getting the ball to head over the net, then the problem can easily be rectified by adjusting your grip on the paddle so that the face of the paddle is always pointing up! 

What Happens If You Perform An Underhand Serve Incorrectly In Pickleball?

What Is An Underhand Serve?

If you find that you perform your underhand serve incorrectly, luckily, the worst that will happen is that your team will receive a penalty.

However, an incorrect serve will need to be called out by a referee in an official match, or by other players if playing casually. Some referees or players may be a little more lenient, and may allow you to simply try the service again! 

In order to avoid the awkward situation of an incorrect serve, just make sure that you keep the paddle angled correctly, and that you do not allow the tip of the paddle to head any higher than the wrist! 

Why Can’t You Perform An Overhand Serve In Pickleball?

The main reason why you cannot serve using an overhand motion in pickleball is that it would cause absolute chaos for the match!

The intended purpose of any serve in pickleball is to simply get the rally going, by getting the ball moving at a controlled pace toward the other side of the court. 

Hitting the ball with an overhand serve in Pickleball would cause the ball to travel much too quickly for the start of the match, which is unfair to both sides of the court, but gives a particular advantage to the serving team.

Hitting overhand is also less easy to control, so serving in such a manner could see the ball careening away from the service box, resulting in a penalty. 

What Happens If You Perform An Overhand Serve In Pickleball?

Luckily, serving overhand in pickleball is very visually obvious, so you likely wouldn’t attempt to try it anyway, because it would instantly result in a penalty. 

However, attempting an underhand serve that travels above the waist would technically count as an underhand serve, so you should be careful to make sure that the top of the paddle never travels above the wrist as a general rule.

To Wrap Up 

There we have it! An underhand serve in the sport of pickleball is technically just a standard serve, as they offer greater control, whereas overhand serves are too fast and powerful to create a rally to get the game started!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does The Ball Have To Be Served Underhand In Pickleball?

Yes. All serves in pickleball must be made with an underhand motion, otherwise, a penalty will be incurred for the serving team. 

Can You Toss The Ball In An Underhand Serve?

You may toss the ball up before making an underhand serve if you wish, but it is not recommended, as it is less easy to control the trajectory of the ball.

What Foot Do You Back When Serving Underhanded?

When performing an underhand serve, make sure that your dominant foot is behind, while your non-dominant foot is planted ahead of you. 

Damien Dansel
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