How to Return a Serve in Pickleball?


While playing the Pickleball game the players should keep one solid point in mind. The ball should always bounce before it is being played. Thus, both the serve and the serve return should bounce before they are being hit. Thus the players should make sure that they have to hit their return ball deep and accurately to give the opponent a tough game.

How to Return a Serve in Pickleball?
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Basics of Returning a Serve in a Pickleball Game

The return of the service is an important moment in the Pickleball game and players should approach it with a strategic mindset. The basics of returning a serve in the Pickleball game are as follows,

The main goal is to return the serve deep to maintain the serving team at the baseline. A short return can bring the serving team forward and decreasing their advantage.

  • All serves and serve returns should bounce.
  • The highly preferred stroke for service return is the forehand strong with a backswing.
  • A shot that lands near the backhand of the opponent will retard them to serve back.
  • After returning the shot, the players should come back to their ready position instantly to return the next shot.
  • Stay patient and use simple return moves, while forcing the opponent to use challenging shots, such as backhand shots.

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How to Perfectly Return a Serve in the Pickleball Game?

Just like the serve, returning the serve is also equally important in the Pickleball game. The game strategy of the person returning the serve should be to get to the net and serve the ball at the weakest point of the receiver or the court. For beginners, the best return serve shot would be a soft looping shot, that is aimed at the backhand side of the server, or close to the T line. Apart from this golden rule, here are some of the best and proven ways to return the serve in the Pickleball game.

1. Return the serve deep:

Hitting the ball deep while returning the serve is very important as it earns some time to get closer to the net. As the server tries to serve deep and near the baseline, the aim of the return serve should also be the same. By hitting the ball deep we can also gain some time and momentum to head towards the net. Push the opponent as far back as possible after his serve with the help of deep shots and gain your momentum towards the net.

2. Reach the net as early as possible:

As most of the points are lost or gained at the end, getting close to the net is a critical move in the Pickleball game. Arriving at the net before the opponent is very crucial in both the singles and the doubles Pickleball game. The player who moves towards the net first will be leading his team towards the winning point.

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3. Hitting the return shot at the center of the court:

One prospective way to improve the return shots is to hit the ball at the center of the court, and hitting it deep at the center is even more rewarding. This strategy works at its best in the doubles game, as both, the opponents get pinned down towards the baseline and the ball is hit at the center court between them. Confusing the opponent is a way of scoring in any game and it stands good for Pickleball as well.

4. Make the opponent use more backhand swings:

A vast majority of the players prefer to hit the Pickleball with a fast swing and this would typically be a forehand swing. Also, hitting a powerful shot with a backhand is quite difficult. Thus, while returning the serve the player should target that weakness by aiming the ball towards the backhand of the opponent. Force the opponent to hit a difficult shot and this strategy works best at the singles Pickleball games. 

5. Try to get back to the position at the earliest:

Getting back to the position is crucial in the Pickleball game, but players should always try to position between the centerline and the service area corner, irrespective of the serve that comes their way. Failing to do so, can easily help the opponent to force a backhand return from the player. Winning points depends on the best the player can select their shots.

6. Practice topspin return move:

After mastering the forehand shot, the practice of leveraging some spin action on the ball during the forehand return. During the topspin return, the shot begins by keeping the paddle low and end with the blade staying high above the shoulder. With a low to high motion along with a slight flick of the wrist, players can add a spin to their return shots. Combining the topspin with a deep return will push the opponent ever further from the centerline. 

7. Use backspin returns at appropriate places:

Like the topspin return, the backspin return can also be a nightmare for the opponent. This is the opposite of topspin and is a high to low swing that creates a backspin. This shot will be very difficult to defend in the game, especially by novice Pickleball players. 

8. The Dink return:

At times when the server remains at the back of the baseline expecting a deep serve, the player has to take advantage of the entirely open kitchen and place a dink shot. A dink shot with backspin is hard to return, especially if the player is near the baseline. But it also has a disadvantage of inviting the opponent close to the net.

Must Read: How to Keep Score in Pickleball Singles & Doubles?

Bottom Line

Create as much momentum as possible from the swing and use your chance to get to the net quicker by serving the ball far away. The safest and the most effective return shots are those that are made deep and at the center of the court, and this is perhaps the happening Pickleball game strategy. Try to take the opponent as far as possible from the net and doing this consistently can add more fun to the game and also help score a lot of points.



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