Who Serves First in Pickleball? Learn About This Rule

Ever wondered who serves first in pickleball? It's a question that stumps many players, from the Ohio tournament to the non-volley zone. In the world of sports, understanding the rules, like the coin toss or the umpire's call, can be a real game-changer. Luckily, with a bit of knowledge and a sprinkle of expertise, you'll soon grasp this pickleball mystery. So grab your paddles, and let's pop into the solution!

Who Serves First in Pickleball? Learn About This Rule

Key Takeaways

  • The right-hand side player typically serves first in pickleball.
  • The first server is chosen by fair methods such as rock/paper/scissors, a coin flip, or using numbered scorecards.
  • In doubles, the stronger server is generally recommended to serve.
  • The serve transfers to the opposing team if the serving team commits a fault or fails to score a point.
  • In terms of serving sides, the server serves from the right side when their score is even and from the left when it’s odd.
  • Understanding, practicing, and following the rules of serving are essential for fair play and strategic gameplay in pickleball.

Coin Toss Method to Determine Who Serves First in Pickleball

Determining who serves first in a pickleball game can be done through various fair methods. One common method is a coin toss. Another method is a simple game of rock/paper/scissors. If a coin is not readily available, numbers can be written on the back of a scorecard, giving each team a 50-50 chance of serving first in pickleball.

The player who serves first in pickleball is usually the right-hand side player. This is a standard rule in pickleball and helps to maintain order and fairness in the game. In the absence of a referee or umpire, the teams can decide who serves first using the methods mentioned above.

The umpire or referee, if present, plays a crucial role in determining who serves first. They oversee the process and ensure that it is carried out fairly. They may also be the ones to flip the coin or conduct the rock/paper/scissors game to decide who serves first at the start.

Who Serves First in Pickleball Doubles

Typically, one player from the team is chosen to serve right from the first. It is generally recommended to have the strongest server serve first in pickleball. Serving first in pickleball doubles has its own set of rules and strategies. One important aspect is deciding who among the team members serve first in pickleball. This gives the team an advantage right from the start of the pickleball game.

The first server’s role in doubles pickleball is to direct the ball into the diagonal service box. This requires precision and good control over the ball. The server must also be aware of the opponents’ positions and try to serve the ball where it is most difficult for them to return in pickleball.

In doubles, the non-serving player in the serving team also has a significant role. While they do not serve the balls hit, their positioning and readiness to return the ball are crucial. They must work in coordination with the server to effectively return the ball and gain points.

Transferring the Serve

In pickleball, the serve is transferred to the opposing team under certain conditions. These include:

  • When the serving team commits a fault. A fault can occur in various ways such as the ball served touching any part of the non-volley zone on the serve, the ball being hit out of bounds, or the ball not landing in the correct service court.
  • The serve is also transferred when the serving team fails to score a point. In pickleball, only the serving team can score points. If the serving team loses the rally, the serve is transferred to the other team.

Transferring the Serve

Keeping track of serving turns is crucial in a pickleball game. The first server continues to serve until they fault, after which the second server serves. When the second server faults, the serve is transferred to the opposite serving team.

The score plays a significant role in determining the serving side. In doubles, the serving team’s score determines which player to serve. If the score is even, the player on the right side will serve, and if it’s odd, the player on the left side will serve.

Scoring in Pickleball

Scoring in pickleball follows specific rules. Points are scored only by the serving team and occur when the opposite serving team faults in pickleball. Hit the ball out of bounds, not clear the net, volley the balls before the balls bounce once on each side during the rally, or step into the non-volley zone and volley the ball are making faults.

There is a difference in scoring between pickleball singles and doubles match in pickleball. First, in singles match, the server serves from the right side when the server’s score is even and from the left when the score is odd.

In doubles, both players on the team get a chance to serve and score points until they both fault, except for the first service sequence of a new pickleball game where only one person gets to serve in a team, from the right-hand court and both players on that team, has the opportunity to serve before faulting passes the ball to the opponents in pickleball.

Common Faults and How to Avoid Them

Common mistakes made by the server during serving in pickleball include serving out of turn, serving from the wrong position, and making illegal serves such as stepping on or over the baseline during the serve or serving the ball out of bounds.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

To avoid these mistakes while doing serve, the server should:

  • The server should keep track of their serving turns and non-server positions.
  • The server should practice serving regularly to improve accuracy.
  • The server should learn and understand serving rules in pickleball by legal and policy.

Tips for Serving in Pickleball

Serving in pickleball is a crucial part of the game from the start. Here are some tips to help the server improve their serve to be a better server:

  • Pick the Target: First, before the server serve in pickleball, it’s important to pick a target on the opponent’s court where the server wants the ball served to land. This will help the server focus and aim their serve better.
  • Use the Continental Grip to Serve: The continental grip is a type of grip that is used in pickleball. It allows for a variety of serve shots and is particularly useful for serving. To hold the paddle in a continental grip, place the base knuckle of your index finger on the second bevel of the paddle hand.
  • Use Your Entire Body to Swing for the Serve: When serving in pickleball, don’t just use your arm. Instead, use your entire body to generate power. Rotate your hips and shoulders as you swing the paddle to hit the ball. This will give your serve more power and make it more difficult for your opponent to return.
  • Mix Up Your Serve: Don’t always serve the ball to the same spot in pickleball. Mix up your serves by aiming for different areas of your opponent’s court. This will keep your opponent guessing and make your serves more unpredictable.
  • Improve Serve Accuracy and Serve Power: Practice the serve regularly to improve its accuracy and power in pickleball. The server can do this by practicing serving at a target or by playing practice pickleball games.

Tips for Serving in Pickleball

Rules for Serving in Pickleball

Understanding the rules for serving in pickleball is essential for playing the pickleball game correctly and effectively. Here are some of the key rules for the server:

  • Serving Sequence: In pickleball, the right-hand player on the serving team will serve first in pickleball. The serve must be made diagonally, landing within the confines of the opposite diagonal court in pickleball.
  • Fault During Service: First, a fault occurs in pickleball if the serve does not land within the confines of the serving court, if the ball is served out of turn, if the wrong score is called before serving, or if the server steps on or over the baseline before doing serve.
  • Understanding and Following the Rules: It’s important to understand and follow the rules of pickleball to ensure a fair and enjoyable pickleball game. Violating the rules can result in fault and penalties.
  • Consequences of Rule Violations: If a player violates the rules during their serve in pickleball, it results in a fault and the serve is handed over to the opposing team. If a player continues to violate the rules, they may be penalized further, including being disqualified from the pickleball game.

Comparison with Other Racket Sports

Role of Serving in Game Strategy

The serve in pickleball is not just about starting the rally; it’s a strategic tool that can set the tone for the rest of the point in the game. A well-placed serve can put your opponent on the defensive right from the start, giving you the upper hand. Therefore, understanding and mastering the serve is crucial for a successful pickleball game strategy.


Where is the first serve in pickleball?

The first serve of each side-out is made from the right-hand court. If a point is scored, the server switches sides and the server initiates the next serve from the left-hand court.

What are the rules for pickleball serves?

Serve to the diagonally opposite service court from behind the baseline and on or within the imaginary extension of the sidelines and centerline. Placement should be deep and to the center of the diagonally opposite service court to keep the receiver back.

How do you determine who serves in pickleball doubles?

Every game of pickleball doubles starts with the serve. The serve is designed to get the ball in play and begin each point. To determine which team serves first, players can use a coin toss or play Paper, Rock, Scissors.

Can you drop the ball on a pickleball serve?

To drop serve in pickleball, a player can either use their non-paddle hand or their paddle to raise the ball to any natural height, then without applying any force or spin, drop the ball.


Understanding serves first and mastering the serve are crucial aspects of the pickleball game. Continuous pickleball learning and practice are key to improving your serving skills and overall game performance. So, keep practicing and enjoy the pickleball game! And don’t forget to read our privacy policy, read carefully before you play.

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