Is It Better To Serve First In Pickleball?

Pickleball is a low-impact sport with a fair playing pace. Yet, there are many strategies for playing pickleball. Some may wonder, “Is it better to serve first in pickleball?“. Let’s find out if this strategy works!


A server in pickleball

Should You Serve First in Pickleball?

Yes. Serving first may bring you more benefits in a pickleball game. It helps you to establish control and momentum. Due to the pickleball rules, the team serving is the one that gets the score. Thus, the team that serves first has the first opportunity to score and lead the game.  

But if you make mistakes in the first serve, you hand your opponents the right to serve. It is such a pity, and you may lose your proactive position. So, staying within the service rules for as long as possible is vital to hold the upper hand to increase the likelihood of winning.

There are also some upsides and downsides to taking the first serve. You can find the answer in the next part.

Advantages of Serving First in Pickleball

As mentioned earlier, serving first in pickleball can provide several benefits, setting the tone for the game and giving you an early advantage over your competitors. Here are some of the advantages of serving first:

Control the First Shot: You can control the game’s first shot by serving first. You get to decide where and how to do it, which can help you start the point on your terms and catch your opponents off guard.

Dictate the Pace: A strong serve can force your opponents into a defensive position, allowing you to dictate the pace of the rally. A well-placed and powerful serve can put pressure on the receiving team and give you the initiative on the point.

Build Momentum: Winning the first rally and scoring points with your serve can help build momentum early in the game. Positive momentum can boost confidence and create a psychological advantage over opponents.

Put Pressure on Opponents: Serving first allows you to put immediate pressure on your opponents. If you can consistently win points with your serve, it can make your opponents feel the need to respond with equally strong serves or returns, increasing their chances of making mistakes.

Chance to Take an Early Lead: If you win the first few points with your serves, you can take an early lead. It can give you some breathing room and allow you to play more freely.

Is it better to serve first in pickleball? With these upsides, I would rather say Yes. But it has downsides also. Will the answer change? Scroll down for more.

Advantages of Serving First in Pickleball

A 2-vs-2 match in pickleball

Disadvantages of Serving First in Pickleball

Here are some of the drawbacks of serving first:

No Warm-up: When you serve first, you don’t get the benefit of a warm-up rally to get into the groove. Your first serve might be rusty, and it could take you a few shots to find your rhythm, leading to a missed opportunity to win the first point.

Pressure to Perform: Serving first puts pressure on you to start the game on a positive note. If you fail to execute a good serve or make an unforced error, it can put you on the defensive and give your opponents an early advantage.

Receiving Team Observes Your Serve: The receiving team can observe your serving style and adapt their positioning and strategy accordingly. They can analyze your serves’ speed, spin, and placement, potentially making it harder for you to catch them off guard later in the game.

Pressure to Hold Serve: After serving first and winning the point, you have the added stress of trying to hold serve in the subsequent issues. If your serving consistency falters, it can allow your opponents to gain momentum and take control of the game.

Serving first offers pros and cons that depend on the players’ skills. You also need to prepare your psychology to stay calm and make a successful serve.

Disadvantages of Serving First in Pickleball

Pickleball for all ages

Serving Rules in Pickleball

The servers must follow many rules, which may pressure them on the first serve. They must stand behind the baseline, hit underhand, and below the waist. 

The server loses a point if they don’t clear the non-volley zone (the kitchen) or the ball doesn’t land in the opponent’s service court. It’s the same if they touch the net or any other part of the court with any parts of the body or racket.

They have two attempts to do a legal service. If both shots are faults, it results in a side-out, and the opposing team receives the serve. The server must serve to the right-hand court on the first serve of each side and then to the left-hand court on the second serve of each side.

These are the basic serving rules in pickleball, but there may be additional rules depending on the tournament or league you are playing in.

Is It Better To Serve First In Pickleball?

There is no definitive answer to whether it is better to serve first in pickleball. It can depend on various factors, such as the skill level of the players, the strategy they employ, and the specific circumstances of the game. 

Some players prefer to serve first as it allows them to set the game’s tone and gain an early advantage. Others may like to receive rather as it will enable them to observe their opponents’ serving style and adjust their strategy accordingly. 

Is It Better To Serve First In Pickleball

How To Achieve A Favorable First Serve In Pickleball

There are a few things you can do on a favorable first serve. First, make sure you have a consistent and accurate service. It means practicing your serve regularly and focusing on hitting the ball in the right spot. 

Additionally, vary your serve placement and speed to keep your opponents guessing. Finally, pay attention to your opponents’ positioning and try to serve their weaker side or exploit any openings in the court.

What Are Some Tips for a Solid Serve?

Here are some tips for a solid serve in pickleball:

  1. Start with a relaxed grip on the paddle and hold it with a continental grip, similar to a hammer.
  2. Stand stably and staggered, with your non-dominant foot slightly ahead.
  3. Use a pendulum motion to generate power and accuracy. Swing your arm back and forward, keeping your wrist firm and your elbow slightly bent.
  4. Aim for the middle of the opponent’s service box, as this gives you the best chance of hitting a deep serve that is difficult to return.
  5. Focus on consistency rather than power. It’s better to have a consistent serve that lands in the service box than a powerful serve that frequently goes out.
  6. Practice your serve regularly to improve your technique and develop muscle memory.
  7. Pay attention to your opponent’s positioning and adjust your serve accordingly. If they are standing closer to the net, consider hitting a deep serve to push them back.
  8. Mix up your serves by varying the speed, spin, and placement. It will keep your opponent guessing and make it harder for them to anticipate your serve.

Remember, serving is a crucial part of pickleball, so take the time to practice and refine your technique.


What Is The Best Way To Serve In Pickleball?

The best way to serve in pickleball depends on your skill level and preference. However, there are a few common techniques that many players find effective. 

One popular method is the “underhand serve,” where you hold the ball in your non-dominant hand and swing your dominant hand upward, making contact with the ball below your waist. This technique allows for better control and accuracy. 

Another technique is the “topspin serve,” where you brush the ball slightly upward, causing it to spin forward and drop quickly over the net. It can be a more aggressive serve but requires more skill and practice. 

Ultimately, the best way to serve in pickleball is to find a technique that works for you and allows you to get the ball in play consistently.

Does The Person On The Right Always Serve First In Pickleball?

No. In pickleball, the serving order is determined by the score. The first serve of the game is always made from the right-hand side of the court, but after that, the serving team alternates sides with each point. 

If the serving team wins a point, the server moves to the left-hand side of the court for the next serve. If they win another point, they move back to the right-hand side, and so on.

How Do The Pros Serve In Pickleball?

The pros in pickleball have various serving techniques. Some common methods include the drive serve, where the server hits the ball hard and low, aiming to make it difficult for the opponent to return. 

Another technique is the lob serve, where the server hits the ball high and deep, forcing the opponent to move back and giving the server an advantage. The pros also use spin serves, where they put a spin on the ball to make it curve or bounce unpredictably. 

These are just a few examples, and the pros use many other serving techniques based on their playing styles and strategies.


Is it better to serve first in pickleball? Yes and no. It is a personal preference and can vary from player to player.

Although serving first can provide an initial advantage in setting the game’s tone and potentially gaining an early lead, it allows the opponent to observe and strategize accordingly. 

Follow us to get more tips on pickleball!

>>See more: How To Fix A Broken Pickleball Paddle Handle – A Step To Step Guide