Can You Toss The Ball On A Serve In Pickleball?

The service is a vital shot in scoring points, so you might want to know, can you toss the ball on a serve in Pickleball? The object of the game is to score points faster than your opponent. Knowing how we like to win, understanding the play guidelines, and how to serve the ball is crucial.

You can toss the ball on a serve in Pickleball. Tossing is one of the two ways you can serve the ball at the start of a rally. The ball can be tossed on its release using the volley pickleball serve. When using the alternate drop serve, if the ball is tossed, not dropped, it is an illegal serve.

The game of Pickleball has exploded in popularity across America, and as it is such a fast-growing sport, it is necessary to get clued up on the guidelines if you are looking to play. The purpose of a service is to place the ball in play; however, there is much more to consider than simply hitting the ball.

Is It Legal To Toss The Ball On A Pickleball Serve?

Since 2022 there are legally two types of serves you can play in Pickleball. These are the volley serve or the drop serve. The drop serve was initially introduced for players with disabilities; however, it is now available to everyone.

You may choose to do either serves or alternate between the two during a rally. Only during a volley serve can you toss the ball; however, there is still a set of requirements to follow for this service to be legal.

Criteria To Be Met For A Legal Pickleball Volley Serve

According to the USA Pickleball 2022 Rulebook, here’s what to watch out for to stay on the right side of your service:

  • When serving, your arm must move in an upward arc (forehand or backhand) when the ball is struck(4.A.3) USA Pickleball 2022 Rulebook.
  • The top of the paddle head must not be above the highest part of the wrist(4.A.4) USA Pickleball 2022 Rulebook.
  • No physical contact with the ball must not be made above the waist(4.A.5) USA Pickleball 2022 Rulebook.

There is also the requirement of Feet Placement. One foot must remain behind the baseline and in contact with the ground, e.g., no jumping, during contact between the Pickleball and your paddle. After the service, this is no longer necessary.

The server must be standing diagonally opposite the service court, behind the baseline, and within the imaginary extensions of the sidelines and centreline.

When Not To Toss A Ball In A Pickleball Serve

The alternate serve, the drop serve, will result in a fault or illegal serve if the ball is propelled downwards, tossed, or hit upward with the paddle. You must not toss the ball upward, let it bounce, and hit it when doing a drop serve.

With a drop serve, the only force that can be applied to your Pickleball’s bounce is the natural force of gravity. Tossing the ball or any unnatural addition to creating a more significant bounce will rule the serve as an illegal serve. The Pickleball is then hit after it bounces. The ball can bounce an unlimited number of times before it is hit.

It is unnecessary to adhere to the same criteria as the volley serve, as these three rules are irrelevant for the drop to serve. Considering that your feet are in the correct position when serving the ball, it is a legal serve (see table below for foot positioning).

Drop Serve And Volley Serve in Pickleball

There are differences and similarities between the drop and volley serve. Below is a table highlighting these:

Pickleball to be hit with either forehand or backhand motionThese restrictions apply only to the volley serve:
– Hit the Pickleball below your navel
– Move your arm in an upward arch
– Keep the highest point of your paddle head below the highest point of your wrist.

None of the above restrictions apply to a Pickleball drop serve  
Basic feet placement rules apply.
– One foot to remain in contact with the ground behind the baseline, e.g., no jumping
– Your feet may not touch the Pickleball court on or inside the baseline. Your feet may not touch or be outside the imaginary extension lines of the applicable sideline or centreline.
When using a drop serve, your Pickleball release must remain unaided, accelerated only by gravity, whereas the volley serve may be tossed.
Your serve must land in the correct service court, diagonal to the serverUnlike the volley serve, aiding the Pickleball in a drop serve by throwing down or tossing the ball will result in a fault, losing you that serve
Pickleball must be hit within 10 seconds of the score being calledIn a volley serve, the ball is hit with the paddle without allowing it to bounce on the court, unlike the drop serve, where it may bounce

Knowing that every point in a pickleball game starts with a service, you can only score points or win the rally if you serve the ball. Winning the rally means your opponent cannot hit the ball back onto your side of the court.

Follow these tips to help you get the upper hand.

Top Toss Tips For A Pickleball Volley Serve

If choosing to start the game with a volley serve, getting the best out of your toss can be a game changer. Playing a toss on service is only legal when using the volley serve. Follows these pointers to ace your play:

  • Lift your toss before you strike. The height of your toss is up to you; this will give you space and time to hit the ball. It also means you have a higher point of contact when striking the ball.
  • Add spin to your toss. Do this using either one bare hand or your paddle. This move will make it harder for your opponent to return the serve.
  • If the toss is terrible, don’t hit it.You have 10 seconds to redo the toss after the score has been called to do your service, so serve a good one.
  • Practice, practice, and practice your toss some more. Play around with adding a spin to it or just being more aggressive with your serve.


Every game starts with a serve and ends with a win. The serve ranks high when using it correctly. It can be used to gain control of a rally or to set up an attack. The aim is to keep control of the ball and for your opponent not to be able to return the favor.

Whether you start your game with a ‘toss ‘or a ‘bounce,’ make sure it is legal. As points are only awarded for legal service, it’s important to remember the serving rules of the Pickleball game. Based on your ability and how you decide to smash out your win, you may start with a volley serve (AKA toss serve) and end with the bounce of a drop serve.


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