Is Pickleball Spin Serves Banned In 2023? [New Rules Proposed]

Pickleball, the hybrid indoor and outdoor sport, is always evolving because it is relatively new when compared to other sports. One such evolution came in the form of the chainsaw serve, which further progressed to become the pickleball spin serve. However, don’t be surprised if, come next year, you stop hearing about this pickleball serve entirely.

What is a Spin Serve?

To properly visualize what a pickleball spin serve is, it’s first important to know how its predecessor, the chainsaw serve pickleball worked. The chainsaw serve that was banned in 2022 by Pickleball USA, was where a player held the ball in one hand pressed up against the pickleball paddle for it to be used as leverage. They then used a chainsaw-like motion to generate as much spin power as possible. This led the ball to spin around wildly, making it close to impossible for any inexperienced player to receive it.

Users of the chainsaw serve found a way to get around the ban, however, by disregarding the paddle and using only their own hand to increase the ball’s spin rate. This is also called either the pre-spin or the finger spin serve or the one-handed spin serve.spin serve

Is it banned in 2023?

According to the recent rule change, it is pretty much confirmed that in 2023 USAPA (USA Pickleball Association)will officially ban it. When Taking the recent chainsaw serve ban into consideration, this will mean that there won’t be any way to add any pre-spin to the ball using your hand when serving.

While the rules are to take effect on the first of January 2023, there are claims that this will only affect professional matches and not amateur ones. This, in addition to the fact that whether or not to ban it in a private match unrelated to the USAPA is completely up to the players, it still might be worth it to learn how to return a spin serve in pickleball.

What Do The Pickleball Players Have to Say About it?

The general consensus seems to be that this change is largely unnecessary, especially when it comes to matches that involve professional players. After all, if a player is considered a pickleball pro, then surely they must have the reflexes required to properly return a spin serve in pickleball, right? Not to mention the fact that it adds more excitement for the viewers when an especially dangerous spin serve is successfully returned by someone.

On the other side of the spectrum, however, some players are in favor of this change. They say that it takes away the original purpose of a pickleball serve, which is to begin the play. Furthermore, it completely alienates newer players, as two out of three new players won’t have the slightest chance of receiving spin serves. It’s so liked by these players that they are also asking for the non-smooth ribbed-faced paddles to be completely banned as well since they also add spin to the ball.

Of course, this won’t mean there won’t be any spinning in the game at all. Far from it actually. Players will be free to use the paddle as a way to add more spinning motion to the ball at any time, with the only exception being the serve. Many credible players have commented that this new rule is expected to make the game more beginner friendly and promote the interest of a whole new wave of sports fans.

What is the new proposed serve rule?

To quote from the official USA Pickleball website’s proposed rule text:

The server shall use only one hand to release the ball to perform the serve. While some natural rotation of the ball is expected during any release of the ball from the hand, the server shall not impart manipulation or spin on the release of the ball immediately prior to the serve. If the referee determines that manipulation or spin has been imparted, or the release of the ball is not visible, the referee shall call for a reserve.

usapa submission on spin serve

In matches without a referee, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the receiver. The server shall not impart manipulation or spin on the release of the ball immediately prior to the serve. If the receiver determines that manipulation or spin has been imparted, or the release of the ball is not visible, the receiver shall call for a reserve immediately after the serve occurs

Exception: A player who has the use of only one hand may use their hand or paddle to release the ball to perform the serve.”

Official Reasons for the Spin Serve ban

According to USAPA, there are five main reasons for spin serves being banned:

  • Pickleball serves original purpose was to get a beginning play
  • Most players cannot master a truly effective spin serve, or return a good spin serve
  • An effective spin serve requires more court space to allow a receiver to react
  • Only a limited number of players have mastered this, giving them an unfair advantage
  • It is particularly devastating for amateur players

As mentioned above, these rules make it so that the player cannot manipulate the ball in any way. If either the referee or the opposing player suspects anything out of the ordinary, they shall call for a replay immediately.

In Conclusion

So while it’s true that you probably won’t be seeing the spin serve in action in any USAPA tournament any time soon, that doesn’t stop local tournaments or matches from deciding they’re completely fair.

Not only that, but we wouldn’t put it past the incredibly creative pickleball fanbase to come up with another equally powerful serve to take the place of the spin serve.

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