Pickleball Strategy – Where to Aim the Serve

Adapted from 100 Pickleball Strategies by Jeff Shank*

For those of you who may not know Jeff Shank, let me tell you just a bit. Jeff is one of the country’s best pickleball players and he has done very well in national tournaments.

Jeff has been very generous in sharing his tips and techniques with others in the pickleball community. I first heard Jeff when he was interviewed on the Pickleball Show by Chris Allen. He is a non-assuming, sincere guy.

Jeff has created a video with 100 Pickleball Strategies. It is an hour long and most players probably do not want to sit and watch an hour of strategy and techniques so what I have done (with permission) is to re-purpose the video by breaking it down into discrete segments.

(Just as a side note here – strategy is only one part of the game. It is the knowing what to do or at least what you hope to do. The other part of the game, and perhaps a bit more important, is being able to do what the strategy indicates.)

What I plan for each segment I post based on Jeff’s video, is to include a summary of the key points being highlighted. Naturally, the video speaks for itself, but sometimes an “executive summary” helps.

For those who are interested, here (first video below) is the introduction to the series from the video:



So…without further ado, I present the first tip offered by Jeff Shank – Where to Serve the Ball.

Where to Serve the Ball (Location):

Aiming for your opponent’s weakest skill shot


NOTES from Pickleball Strategy – Where to Aim the Serve:

  • Serve Deep and to the Backhand – Generally speaking, serve to your opponent’s weakest return shot. For most average players, this would be their backhand. Remember also to serve the ball deep.
  • If a player tries to protect their backhand, try to serve to the opposite corner of the service area.
  • For left-handed players, reverse the target areas (placement) as Jeff demonstrates.
  • If a player has an aggressive return of serve and hits the ball hard and low, try to serve them short where they need to run up for the ball. This will reduce their chances of hitting a powerful (aggressive) return shot.
  • If a player wants to take the serve with their backhand, serve to their forehand. Watch your opponent to see where they stand. They will probably “protect” their weak spot and help you strategize.

*This adaptation has been done with permission form Jeff Shank! Many thanks to Jeff and others for allowing this to be presented to the pickleball community via this blog.

To See Pickleball Videos Covering Many Aspects of the Game Click Here (primarily for beginners and less experienced players)

Check out Additional Pickleball Info and Videos! (for all players including average to more experienced players)

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