What is Let Serve In Pickleball? | All You Know Need To Know 2023

Understanding the rules is crucial for every player and referee in Pickleball. One rule that often caused confusion and anticipation was the "is". This rule, which involved the ball hitting the net during a serve but still landing in the correct area, often led to disputes and slowed down gameplay. However, in a move to streamline the game and reduce distractions, the USA Pickleball Association decided to eliminate the "let serve" rule in 2021. This change has brought about a new dynamic to the sport, enhancing the speed and reducing the risk of cheating.

What is Let Serve In Pickleball? | All You Know Need To Know 2023

What is a Let Serve in Pickleball

Definition of a Let Serve

A let serve in Pickleball is when the ball hits the net and then lands in the correct service court, specifically outside of the non-volley zone or the ‘kitchen’.

This was not considered a fault, and the server was allowed to serve again. The term “let” is believed to have originated from various sources, including the French word “filet” meaning net, or the Old Saxon term “Lettian” meaning to hinder. However, the most accepted theory is that it was borrowed from tennis and adapted for pickleball.

How a Let Serve was Played

During a serve, the server had to ensure that they served underhand, with the paddle contacting the ball below the waist. The server’s foot could not touch the baseline or the court until after the ball was hit.

The ball had to be served diagonally, landing in the opponent’s service area outside the no-volley zone. If the balls hit the net but still landed in the correct area, it was considered a let serve, and the server was given another chance to serve.

There was no limit to the number of serves a player could have during their turn to serve. However, if the ball hit the net and did not land in the correct area, it was considered a service fault, and the serve would go to the other team.

This rule allowed for some interesting dynamics and strategies during the game. However, this rule has been removed as of 2021, leading to a significant change in the gameplay of pickleball.

Changes to the Pickleball Let serve

The game of pickleball, much like its players, is always evolving. One of the most significant changes in recent years has been the modification of the let serve rule. This rule, which once allowed a serve that hit the net but still landed in the correct service court to be replayed, was a unique aspect of pickleball. However, as of January 2021, the rule was removed from the official pickleball rules.

Removal of the Let Serve Rule

The decision to remove the rule was not made lightly. The USA Pickleball Association, the governing body for the sport in the United States, made this decision after careful consideration.

The change was primarily driven by a desire to streamline the game and reduce interruptions caused by let serves. This change means that a let serve in pickleball is considered legal and play continues, and only one serve attempt is allowed.

Impact of the Rule Change

The removal of the rule has had a significant impact on the game of pickleball. For players, it has added an extra layer of challenge and strategy to serving. Players can no longer rely on these serves to give them a second chance at a serve.

For officials, it has simplified the game by removing the need to judge whether a serve that hit the net should be replayed. Despite initial resistance from some players, the change has generally been accepted and has become the new norm in pickleball games across the globe.

Why Did the USA Rules Committee Change the Rule?

The decision to change the let serve rule in pickleball was not made on a whim. It was a carefully considered move by the USA Pickleball Association, the governing body of the sport. The association has outlined three primary considerations that guide any rule changes in pickleball:

  1. Preserving the integrity of pickleball
  2. Enhancing the players’ experience and facilitating the learning process
  3. Minimizing conflicts between players and referees

These considerations were at the forefront when the decision was made. The association believed that the rule was causing ambiguity and confusion for both players and officials, which was detrimental to the game.

Upholding the Integrity of Pickleball

The integrity of pickleball is the topmost priority for the Rules Committee. The let rule was seen as a potential loophole for cheating, intentional or otherwise. The committee was concerned that the rule could be misused, leading to unfair advantages and disputes.

Consider a hypothetical scenario where you’re competing in a crucial match without referees. You execute a perfect serve, but your opponent immediately calls a let. Even though you’re certain it wasn’t a let, there’s nothing you can do about it. This situation creates room for potential cheating and conflicts, which can mar the spirit of the game. By eliminating the let serve rule, such situations can be avoided, thereby preserving the integrity of the game.

Prioritizing Players’ Experience

The second priority for the Rules Committee is to enhance the players’ experience and make the game easier to learn. This let pickleball serve rule was seen as a source of conflict between players. Disagreements over whether a serve was a let or not could lead to heated arguments, spoiling the fun of the game.

The removal of the rule eliminates this potential source of conflict, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable experience for players.

Ensuring Consistency for Officials

The third priority of the Rules Committee is to minimize conflicts between players and referees. The let serve rule was a source of inconsistency among referees, as it was often challenging to accurately judge a let serve. This inconsistency could lead to disputes and undermine the game’s integrity.

By removing the rule, the committee has eliminated this inconsistency, making the game easier to officiate and ensuring a fairer playing field for all participants.

Current Serving Rules in Pickleball

Now, a serve that hits the net but lands properly in the opponent’s court; there are no lets, and will be considered a live ball, and play continues without interruption. This change was implemented to eliminate ambiguity and potential conflicts during gameplay.

How to Serve in Pickleball

To serve in pickleball, the player must adhere to the following steps:

  1. Stand with one foot behind the baseline.
  2. Hold the paddle at waist level and ensure the wrist does not touch the top of the paddle face.
  3. Serve underhand, making contact with the ball below the waist. Players can now only use one hand to drop the ball for a volley serve or you can go for a drop serve
  4. The ball must be served diagonally, landing in the opposite service area on the opponent’s side of the court.

Since there is no longer a let serve. If the serve hits the net but lands properly in the opponent’s court, it is a live ball and play continues.

Common Fault on Serves

While the let serve rule has been removed, there are still several common service faults in pickleball that players should be aware of:

  • If the ball hits the net and lands outside of the service area, it is considered a fault.
  • If the ball hits the net and does not go over, landing on the server’s side of the court, it is also a fault.
  • If the server’s foot or the court touches the baseline before the ball is hit, it is a fault.

Understanding these rules and how they differ from the previous let serve rule is crucial for players to adapt to the current gameplay of pickleball.

Is there a let on serve in pickleball?

In pickleball, a serve that hits the net but still lands within the appropriate service court is termed a "let." In such cases, the server is allowed another serve, with no restrictions on the number of times this can happen. However, if a "let" serve strikes the server's partner before touching the court surface, the serve is considered a let and is replayed.

Is there a let in pickleball 2023?

Does the Let Serve Matter in the 2023 Rule Changes? The 2023 rulebook of USA Pickleball does not mention a service let. Therefore, you can confidently serve your shots low and close to the net. It will be considered legal, regardless of whether it touches the net or not!

What are the rules for pickleball serving?

The server must start with at least one foot behind the baseline, and neither foot can touch the baseline or the court until after the ball has been hit. The serve must be made diagonally crosscourt and must land within the boundaries of the opposite diagonal court.

Can you bounce the ball before you serve in pickleball?

The drop serve technique allows a player to drop the ball from any height (without jumping or throwing the ball) and let it bounce before taking the serve. The ball can bounce more than once, and the player can strike the ball in any manner they prefer, excluding rules 1, 2, and 3 below.


In conclusion, the evolution of pickleball’s rules reflects the sport’s dynamic nature and commitment to fair play. The removal of the rule has streamlined gameplay, reducing interruptions and potential disputes. The key takeaway is that adaptability is crucial in pickleball, as in any sport, to keep up with changing rules and strategies.

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