What is an Illegal Serve in Pickleball?

By: Brandon Fritze

An illegal pickleball serves means a service that violates the established rules of the game. USAPA label these serves as illegal because they give the serving player an unfair advantage or disrupt the game’s fairness. Most of your scores also depend upon the “serve”.

That is why you should know what an Illegal serve to ensure a successful match. With it in mind, scroll ahead to learn the illegal serves and the violation in Pickleball.

Also Read: Legal Pickleball Serve

Examples of Illegal Pickleball Serves

You must be aware of these nine illegal Pickleball serves:

1. Overhanded Serve

An overhand serve in Pickleball involves hitting the ball with an upward motion using your hand above your shoulder level.

USAPA considers this type of serve illegal because it goes against the game’s rules.

It gives the serving player an unfair advantage, allowing them to generate more power and control over the ball.

Pickleball Overhand Serve

2. Chainsaw Serve

The chainsaw serve is another illegal serve in Pickleball . It gets its name from the chopping motion that resembles a chainsaw.

In this service, the player swings their paddle downward, creating a spinning effect on the ball.

This serve is not allowed because it can make it challenging for the receiving player to predict the ball’s trajectory and respond appropriately.

3. Paddle Head Above the Wrist and the Waist Level

When serving in Pickleball, it is essential to follow specific guidelines regarding the positioning of your paddle.

One illegal Pickleball serve occurs when the paddle head is above the player’s wrist or waist.

USAPA put this regulation in place to ensure fairness and prevent players from gaining an unfair advantage through a stronger and more challenging serve using a higher contact point.

Paddle Head Below the Waist

4. Missed Serve

A missed serve refers to a situation where the serving player fails to make a successful serve.

This may occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Striking the ball into the net
  • Striking it outside of the service area
  • Failing to strike it inside the service area’s appropriate borders.

Although not directly illegal, a missed serve results in a point loss for the serving player and the opportunity for the opponent to serve.

5. Serve on or Beyond the Baseline

A serve is illegal if it lands on or beyond the baseline. The baseline marks the boundary of the serving area and the server must land within it to be valid.

If the ball lands outside this area, it is out of bounds and the serve is becomes illegal.

This rule ensures that the serving player maintains proper court position and does not gain an unfair advantage by serving from a position too far back.

6. Serving in the Kitchen

It is illegal to serve in the kitchen, also known as the non-volley zone in Pickleball.

The kitchen is the area extending seven feet from the net on both sides.

The player must position their feet behind the baseline and outside the kitchen when serving.

Serving from within the kitchen violates this rule and results in a fault.

7. Serving in the Incorrect Court

In Pickleball, each team has a designated court to serve. It is illegal to serve in the incorrect court.

The serving player must ensure that they hit the ball diagonally to the opponent’s court without crossing the centerline.

Serving into the wrong court disrupts the game’s flow and fairness, and it is considered an illegal serve.

8. Not Bouncing the Ball After Serve

After a serve in Pickleball, the receiving player must let the ball bounce once before returning it.

Serving into the wrong court disrupts the game’s flow and fairness. This serving makes it an illegal serve.

This rule promotes fair play and ensures that both teams have an equal opportunity to return the serve.

9. Serve Taking More than 10 Seconds

A serve in Pickleball should not take longer than 10 seconds. This time limit is essential to maintain the game’s rhythm and ensure fair play.

Taking too much time to serve not only disrupts the game’s pace but also can be viewed as a form of stalling which is against the rules and etiquette of the sport.

Maintaining a reasonable speed and keeping the game moving is essential.

Consequently, a player who consistently exceeds the time limit may be regarded as making an illegal serve.

What is a Violation in Pickleball?

A violation in Pickleball refers to an infraction or breach of the 2023 Pickleball Official rules.

It occurs when a player or team fails to comply with the established guidelines and regulations set forth by the governing bodies of Pickleball.

Violations can result in penalties, loss of points, or other consequences depending on the violated rule.

Common examples of violations in Pickleball include:

  • Stepping into the kitchen (non-volley zone) and hitting the ball before it bounces
  • Serving in the incorrect court
  • Using an illegal serve technique
  • Intentionally obstructing the opponent’s play
  • Committing foot faults during serves or volleys

Final Thoughts on Pickleball Illegal Serve

Every game has some right and wrong factors. Similarly in Pickleball, you should be aware of all these enlisted illegal Pickleball serves. Otherwise, you can be disqualified by bringing these services into your use.

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