Can You Slice Serve In Pickleball?

An estimated 4.8 million Americans play Pickleball, and if you’re one of them or want to join in, you might notice that Pickleball seems to have some intricate rules. The way you serve in Pickleball can make or break your game, and it would help to know if you can slice serve the ball as you would in a regular tennis game.

You are allowed to slice serve in Pickleball. A slice serve within a game of Pickleball entails a method to curve the ball to one side and make your opponent rush to the ball, but you need to do so within the serving rules to ensure that you’re serving legally. 

A fast and furious slice serve makes for a riveting game, and you’ll likely impress with this coveted serving style! We will dive into some information on Pickleball serving rules that you need to abide by to be able to perform a slice serve, and we’ll tell you how you can execute one yourself! We would also love to let you know some Pickleball serving tips to spice up your practice.

Slice Serving In Pickleball

Before you can slice serve, you need to work around a handful of rules to execute the lucrative shot! Pickleball is a game of its own, meaning that it won’t be in the likes of a tennis slice serve, but there’s no stopping Pickleball’s very own slice serve methods!

Rules To Abide By When Slice Serving

Slice Serving is all about giving your opponent a run for their money. In any serving scenario, Pickleball rules outline what you can and can’t do. To serve in Pickleball, you must start by hitting the ball with your paddle below your naval while holding the paddle so that it does not raise above the top part of the wrist while striking.

Alongside a below-the-naval serve, your paddle needs to move in an upward arc after hitting the ball. If you abide by these previously mentioned rules, any method you use your paddle to slice serve is perfectly legal, but it might take some practice to get it right.

When handling the ball in Pickleball, the rules state that you may not throw it downwards, but you can throw it upwards if you let the ball drop before hitting it. You may also use the paddle to release the ball if you don’t throw or toss it using the paddle. A great rule of thumb is to let gravity do the work and not create a direct force on the ball before the serve.

As of 2021, the naval, wrist, and upward arc rules do not apply if you bounce the ball first! Even though a slice serve won’t require the ball to bounce before you strike it, you are allowed to bounce the ball if dropped naturally, and you can drop it from any height. Feel free to be creative in inventing a serve if a serving method doesn’t suit, since a bounce, also known as a ‘drop serve,’ allows more freedom!

A Method Used To Slice Serve In Pickleball

Slice serving in Pickleball is entirely possible! You’ll need to create sidespin on the ball as you would in tennis so it will move across the court into the opponent’s baseline and take them by surprise! The key to a successful slice serving in Pickleball is speed and depth.

The goal in serving is to create a challenging return, and a slice serve can accomplish this most beautifully. You’ll need to take a few steps towards the baseline when you slice serve to gain momentum before striking the ball, so the first step is to position yourself at least three feet away from the baseline.

Start the serve by taking two steps forward and then drop the ball. Use your fingertips to turn the ball in a snapping motion and create a right-to-left spin when dropping it to your paddle. You’ll want to drop the ball from neck length.

When moving into position before you strike, you should ensure your feet, hips, and shoulders are sideways to create a force to compliment the momentum you have created by your steps. As you take the shot, shift your weight by moving your waist and forearm under the ball and hitting it from the middle of the paddle.

The technique of holding your paddle influences your slice serve, and a continental grip works best. A continental grip is a bit like grabbing a hammer, but if this grip style doesn’t work for you, a little practice will get you comfortable. Another grip style could work with a slice serve, but a continental grip is preferable because it opens the paddle’s face for a strong, more controlled hit.

Pickleball Serving Tips

Pickleball slice serves allow for a deep shot that keeps your opponent at their baseline, which is right where you want them! Deep serves prevent your opposition from running into their kitchen because their return of serve must travel from their baseline, through their court, and both your kitchens before it returns for the third shot. Lengthy return distances give you time to get the upper hand on the game.

Aim for your opponent’s weakness, such as their backhand, to enable a poor return. It is even better if you aim for their weakness with a fast serve, so they have less time to set up their shot. A slow serve can allow the opposition to create an extensive hit that will send you back behind the baseline, which is not where you want to be.

You can use a chair on the other side of the court to practice the shot – Think of it as target practice! Chairs help you practice serving from both sides of the court to perfect your serving itinerary, and a great way to train on your own.

For a beginner Pickleball player, we recommend looking where you intend to aim before serving, locking the image mentally, and then focusing on the ball and paddle.

If you’re a beginner or have a better backhand, you might struggle with the naval, wrist, and upward arc rules, so a drop serve could solve the problem because these rules don’t apply once the ball has bounced. Drop serves can make your serving in Pickleball a piece of cake, so feel free to experiment with different serving methods.


The Pickleball slice serve will dazzle your fellow players, especially since you have intricate serving rules to follow. Remember to look out for your naval, wrist, and upward arc rules when spinning the ball onto your paddle, and position your body sideways before shifting your weight into the slice serve.

Some serving tips include getting a deep shot to set yourself up for success, aiming for your opponent’s weakness, target practice with a chair, looking before you serve, trying a drop serve, and most importantly, having fun!


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