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Monday, November 21, 2016

Serve Deep

A couple of weeks ago I did a series on drills. The last drills I discussed included the serve, the return of serve, the 3rd-shot drop, and the dink. Over the next several weeks, we will refocus on these basic shots. Today we will start with the serve.

A lot of information on the serve has already been included in previous articles. These are archived in Chapter 2: The Serve, the second chapter of the "book" from A Pickleball Life. It can be found along the left side of the blog. But there is now a constant stream of new materials available. We will examine some of those materials and add them to the archive. Today's article is called Serve Deep and it comes from Jeff Napier.

Serve Deep

The beginning pickleball player feels lucky to get the serve anywhere within legal bounds. With experience, the player can start to serve to specific places. So, once you have the skill to serve the ball where you want it, where is the best place to serve?

Sometimes you can serve very short, and the beginner and intermediate players will not run to the net in time to return the ball. But the advanced players are all over short serves. With an especially short serve, they can often win on the return shot – no more volleying needed, since they’ll put it soft and diagonally into the kitchen, where you can’t return it.

The best place to serve is almost always as deep, in other words as close to the baseline, as you can. This has two main advantages, and sometimes three.

With a beginning player, they’ll have more trouble returning a deep serve. Especially since there is a tendency to run forward putting the player too far forward to hit the ball effectively.

For all players, the deep serve limits possibilities for instantly winning returns. Returning a deep serve offensively is nearly impossible.

With the advanced player, you are also keeping that player back by the baseline. You don’t want that player to come forward too soon. That player cannot come forward until after returning the deep serve, giving you an almost equal chance to approach the non-volley line within a reasonable amount of time.

It is also better to keep the serve low over the net. With a low, fast, deep serve, there is no chance for the opponent to return something that you can’t hit back, as long as you are a fairly experienced player.

However, you’ll often see advanced players serve in a way that looks to a beginner like they aren’t even trying. And in fact they aren’t. They know that as long as their serves are deep, there is no shot the opponents can use to score a win on the return. So in the end, with a deep serve, whether it is somewhat high or low, a rally of at least three hits is guaranteed.

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