Who Serves First in Pickleball?

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Every pickleball game begins with a serve. Serving in pickleball may appear to be a basic action, but it plays an integral role in every point in the game. Ace serves don’t often result in points being won in pickleball; unfortunately, out-of-bounds serves often result in lost opportunities. There is also the possibility of gaining an advantage over your opponent by perfecting your serve. Pickleball serving sounds complex, but once you understand it, it’s simple.

Learning the pickleball rules is important for a fair game, and here we explain just who serves first in a pickleball game.

Who Serves First?

Before the game starts, a coin flip will determine which team serves first.

In a doubles game, the stronger server usually serves first, so they have a better chance of scoring points instantly.

When playing pickleball doubles, at the beginning of the match, players are assigned the names’ Player One’ and ‘Player Two.’ The right-hand block is always the starting point for player one. After scoring a point, the players on a team will exchange sides, and each player will serve on the other side.

When determining where a player belongs, it’s important to look at the score. The right side of the court will be occupied by that team’s player one if their score is even. In the case of an odd score, their first player should appear on the left. Players can also use this method if they forget the score. Player one determines whether it’s odd or even based on where they are supposed to be.

When player one misses a point when serving, there is no switch of sides, and player two then serves. If player two wins a point while serving, they switch sides again. Should player two lose a point on the serving team’s serve, neither player moves and it’s the opposition’s turn to serve.

The receiving team’s players don’t switch sides after they win or lose a point. Each player remains in their block during each point until they serve. The right-hand player serves first as soon as the service changes from one team to another.

What Is a Side Out?

The contrary player must serve next if a player fails to gain points; this is called a side out.

Since the serving team just had their service, there’s a chance they’ll be on the opposite side than at the start. If the scores are odd, on the left-hand side is where player one must be and on the right-hand side is where player two needs to go. Whenever a point is won, player two will serve first and the players will alternate sides.

The Same Player Serves Until a Mistake Is Made

The sport of pickleball differs significantly from other racket and paddle sports, including tennis, because everyone gets to serve equally, which is not true in pickleball. In this game, the server continues to serve until they make an error.

When only one side is allowed to score, scores can quickly become unbalanced.

What You Need to Know About Hitting the Ball Legally When Serving

On a serve, a player must follow three rules:

  1. Serving must be done below the waist.
  2. You must hold the paddle below the wrist while serving.
  3. You must move the paddle upwards to strike the ball. If you are found hitting it differently, it’s called illegal pickleball, and you can be disqualified.

Following the rules for pickleball serving ensures a fair game is carried out.

A senior serves during a pickleball match.

Pickleball Tips

You Should Swing From the Shoulders

In a game of pickleball, serving is often misdirected from the wrist or elbow by pickleball players. The problem is that this could prove fatal!

You’re not only more likely to get injured doing this, but you are also unlikely to achieve success if you do so. One of the most important things to remember in pickleball is that serving begins at the shoulder. In addition, you should complete the movement by ensuring that your arm is extended and that the paddle is carried through the entire movement. Those at advanced levels in racket sports should already be familiar with this serving tip. Watch out for the returns, as they are likely to occur when you have skilled opponents against you.

Consistency Is Key

Our next pickleball match serving tip is simple but extremely useful: be consistent when serving. You shouldn’t have a problem serving from the same position each time, especially if you practice in that spot often. There will never be two identical serves, so stop trying to make it happen. Focusing on what you can control will help you gain more confidence and power in the game, resulting in better performance.

Make Use of Your Legs and Core When Serving

Although your upper body mostly carries out your pickleball serve, the legs and core should not be overlooked.

To serve effectively in pickleball, you need relaxed arm swings and controlled follow-throughs in the forward position, with your legs and core working together to enhance speed, force, and stability when serving. Stabilizing your core and standing athletically before you hit the pickleball ball will help you hit the best service possible.

Learning to serve pickleball underhand is vital as the ball must be served that way to gain any points. It pays to be flexible in the core and leg area and always warm these areas up before playing to avoid injuries.

Serve With Spin

It’s often more difficult to return spin serves from an opponent’s court. You can therefore score more points when you master the spin serve. In the case of someone who is an experienced tennis player, the process may be easier than in the case of someone who is a newcomer to these types of sports. If you’d like to get the best serve possible, make sure the paddle you choose has a good spin.

What Can I Do to Improve the Accuracy of My Serve?

Getting to know your paddle well is the easiest way to improve accuracy.

Pickleball paddles are different, so you can get a true feel for them by practicing serving with them. By practicing, it will become more natural and you will become more accurate. It’s a good idea to practice making contact at particular points when you’re hitting the ball so that you can serve consistently. Confidence also plays a big role!


Keep your opponents guessing and improve your pickleball game, making your serves unpredictable. You may score some quick points if you vary your serve, and your opponent may have difficulty receiving some serves over others. Serving pickleball consistently is the first step in becoming a good player; switch your serves up to make your pickleball game more dynamic by adding different varieties of serves.

As your skill level increases, you will start to master those serve shots and even throw in a few impossible shots that could win you the game. Locate your local pickleball community and start a game; you may even be asked to join a pickleball tournament. Take your time and learn the basics, like who serves first, before getting into a real game.

Take these pickleball serving suggestions and incorporate them into your game to improve your serve!