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What is your pre-serve routine?

posted Jan 22, 2019, 1:40 PM by Jenn Selchow   [ updated Jan 22, 2019, 1:41 PM ]
I see a lot of players that struggle with their serve during recreational play. My first question to them is, "what is your pre-serve routine?" The most common response I receive is, "I don't have one". A routine is evident in many sports, and pickleball should be no different. Whether it is the shot motion of a basketball player at a free throw line, a pre-pitch routine in baseball, a tennis player that bounces the ball, or a golfer lining up a putt. A routine is a rhythm that feels right for you and helps calm you. Here is what to keep in mind when you develop your routine.
  1. Use the KISS principle! It should be a natural and automatic process; this will help produce a consistent serve. Making it too complex will disrupt your mind and body; so keep it simple!
  2. Announce the score - your routine should take place after the announcement of the score. You have ten seconds to strike the ball after the score is announced.
  3. Have a ball routine. The object is to focus on the task at hand and block out all other distractions. Examples may include:
    1. Bouncing the ball off the ground, or bouncing it off your paddle
    2. Spinning the ball on your paddle face 
    3. Tapping the ball to the paddle face
  4. Take a deep breath - I cannot stress this enough, and this is the most important portion of the whole pre-serve routine. This will help calm your body and your mind. 
  5. Strike the ball
Do not try to ace your serve. Pickleball serves are underhand and not about power. If you miss your serve, you have zero chance of scoring. After you develop your pre-serve routine and can consistently hit your serve in the box, then you can progress to a more complex serve. More advanced techniques include the following:
  1. Hitting the serve deep to the baseline
  2. Spin - this can aid in the ball not bouncing as high, hence reducing the time your opponent has time to react.
  3. Placement of your serve to your opponent's backhand.
You heard it as a kid, and it still holds true - Practice Makes Perfect! You don't need a partner to practice serves, you just need an empty court and a few pickleballs!