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 – Delayed Gratification with the Ground Stroke

One of the first shots most people learn when they begin to play pickleball is the forehand groundstroke. If you ask players about this shot, they would probably say that they know how to do it and that may be true…to some extent for most of us!

We all probably learned the basics about the best way to correctly execute the pickleball groundstroke, but do we all maintain our focus and correctly perform all phases of the stroke?

The video below with Wes Gabrielsen demonstrates the groundstroke from both the right-hand and left-hand side. (Wes is a 5.0 player who switches hands for a groundstroke with either hand). Watch the video below and pay attention to the “hints” which are also detailed at the end of this post.

  • Keep your eye on the ball through the stroke; especially at the point of contact – watch the ball hit the paddle.

    **The reason this is important is that the ball may move along an unanticipated path and if you are not watching it, you cannot adjust your swing and you may mishit the ball or perhaps miss it all together. Don’t be tempted to look up to see how well you hit the ball. Delay your gratification and keep your head down, eye on the ball and follow through. I understand this is easier said than done!


  • Bend your knees and get the weight of your body behind the shot.

  • Follow through towards the target. Coach Mo suggests that you “kiss” the shoulder of the paddle hand to assure the follow through.

Quoted from the YouTube Video:

“What if you didn’t have one good forehand, you had TWO! You may not have this unique ability on the court, but we know you will enjoy watching Wes Gabrielsen, a top 5.0 pickleball player, demonstrate this move which he uses to his advantage. We have even included some pop up tips that apply to all forehands whether left or right! And the slow motion is just plain fun to watch besides being helpful when you study other players to improve your own pickleball skills. Watch this one today!”