Pickleball – What I Noticed by Watching Others Play

A number of players…

#1 – have questionable serves.

The Serve

  • The serve must be made underhand.
  • Paddle contact with the ball must be below the server’s waist (navel level).
  • The serve is initiated with at least one foot behind the baseline; neither foot may contact the baseline or court until after the ball is struck.
  • The serve is made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court.
  • Only one serve attempt is allowed, except in the event of a let (the ball touches the net on the serve and lands on the proper service court; let serves are replayed).
    USAPA Rules Summary – The Serve

NOTE – The server’s swing must be in an upward arc as shown in the drawing below (p. 18 – USAPA & IFP Official Tournament Rulebook)

Upward air serve

Pickleball 101: The Basics of a Pickleball Serve

Additional information:

The Ultimate Guide To Serving In Pickleball

#2 – take step forward after serving and sometimes they are caught moving backwards trying to hit the return of serve. It is more difficult to hit the ball forward while you are moving backward. Taking a step backward while hitting the ball will result only in an arm shot which is difficult to hit precisely and usually will not have much power. Stay back waiting for the return of serve, but be ready to move forward if the return is short!

#3– are facing the net, i.e. parallel when hitting a groundstroke even if they have time to set up. This is known as an open stance; not generally good for a ground stroke. A groundstroke, either forehand or backhand, has more power when you can set up with your shoulder perpendicular to the net.

#4– when not receiving the serve, partners are waiting near the kitchen line and they do not watch the ball as it is served to the receiver. I have noticed some facing completely forward without ever turning around, but just waiting to see the ball hit the opponent’s side of the court. The non-receiving partner should watch the ball as it is served to the receiver.

a – The ball may be out and the receiver may not have called it. You then call it.

b – If the receiver hits a bad shot, you have time to react if you are watching the ball. If it is a pop-up and it will be coming back hard, take a few steps back to gain more time to respond.

c- Watching the receiver hit the ball may enable the non-receiving partner to determine where the ball is headed and prepare for the return by facing in that direction with the paddle up.

I hope beginning pickleballers and perhaps others find some of these observations and associated links helpful.

Have fun on the courts!



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Pickleball Video – Importance of Communication at All Levels

In the next installment of Jeff Shank’s 100 Pickleball Strategies, Jeff points out the importance of at least a minimal amount of communication between each team’s players even at the club or recreational level. If you have a tournament partner, I am sure you have crossed this bridge before reading this post. At least I hope you have!

Well then, what should you discuss?

  • Are any players on the opposing team left handed? If so, someone should keep track of when both opponents’ backhands are in the middle of the court and announce it to each other during play. The backhand is usually the weakest shot for most players and if each player does have a weak backhand and they are in the middle, this might be an advantage when returning a ball.
  • Which way is the wind blowing (if play is outside)?
  • Have you seen these players play? Anything unusual about their style (do they spin every ball?)
  • Do you know which player is the weakest?
  • Does one player have an especially good lob?

What words will be used to indicate that a ball is in, out, potentially going out, etc. Who will cover lobs and under what circumstances?

Watch the video as Jeff explains how to play “smart” pickleball even during recreational play. What additional hints does he offer besides those highlighted above?


  • Did you hear what Jeff said about calling lobs “in” or “out”?
  • Why is it important to communicate when a shot is returned down the middle of the court to your team?

These are all fundamental key strategies and they can add a couple of points to your score in many games. If you didn’t pick up all of the hints and tips Jeff Shank offered in this segment of his 100 tips, it would be worth it to watch the video again!

NOTE – To find out about this series of posts, i.e. 100 Pickleball Strategies by Jeff Shank, read the first post HERE


To See additional 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)