Capital Area Pickleball Association
Serving Dane County Wisconsin

Is Your Serve Legal?

27 Feb 2024 9:25 AM | Abigail Darwin

There are two kinds of serves in pickleball – the volley serve, which you hit out of the air, and the drop serve, which you hit after it bounces.

Drop Serve

If you want to use a drop serve, there are significantly fewer rules to follow. You mainly have to remember that you cannot add force to the bounce (you literally have to just drop it). You can drop it anywhere on the playing surface, whether in front of or behind the baseline. And you can hit it however you want.

Volley Serve

If you want to hit a volley serve instead, then there are three rules you have to follow:

  • You must hit the ball with the paddle head below your wrist.
  • You must make contact with the ball below your waist. (“Waist” used to be defined in the official Rulebook as the navel until 2020, but the rules are no longer that technical. So now, “waist” just refers to the general area where you bend.)
  • You have to hit the ball with your arm making an upward arcing motion.

Where to Stand

When serving either a drop serve or a volley serve, you must stand behind the baseline, between the sideline and the centerline, on whatever side of the court you are serving from.

Where Must the Serve Land?

The serve must land in the service court that is diagonally opposite the server across the net. The serve may also land on any of the service court lines, including the centerline, the baseline or the sideline. The ball cannot, however, land in the kitchen or on the kitchen lines. If the ball hits the net and bounces into the correct service court, it is considered “good.”


  • 29 Feb 2024 3:21 PM | Joe Carter
    Thank you, Abigail, for your service clarifications.
    However, per Recreational (non-officiated) play there are no faults for an improper volley serve. This is a much-debated subject, but the rules stay the same for 2024.

    We should always strive to serve according to the rules, but just be aware that we cannot call a fault if our opponent serves illegally.
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