One of our members stated: “We have been to the instructional sessions, and we were told that you must serve underhanded. I have been observing what I would consider very good players and note that they serve side arm like you do in ping pong. Is this a legal serve?”
What do you think is the answer? The rule seems clear, but it is one of the most controversial rules in pickleball.
A simple explanation is “…contact with the ball is made below waist level. The paddle face cannot be above the wrist. The paddle must
come through in an upward arc.”
“To serve legally remember to use an underhand motion striking the ball in an upward arc (bowling or slow pitch motion). The underhanded service motion offers the best option for serving legal and is rarely, if ever called into question. Not so with the side armed and cocked wrist serves (racquetball or fast pitch motion) which borders on illegality in many instances.”
The USA Pickleball Association made rule revisions on February 1, 2013 to help clarify the definition for the waist and paddle head.
4.A. Serve Motion. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level).
4.A.1. Underhand Defined. The arm must be moving in an upward arc and the paddle head shall be below the wrist when it strikes the ball (paddle head is that part of the paddle excluding handle. The highest point of the paddle head cannot be above any part of line formed where the wrist joint bends).
Do you use a legal serve? Ask a friend to observe or take a video of you to view to see if you are serving underhand and contacting the ball below the waist.
Remember: Pickleball Rocks!
(Source: International Federation of Pickleball – Official Tournament Rulebook and USA Pickleball Association)