At the beginning of each new year, the rules of pickleball are revisited and often revised. Starting in January 2022, you can expect to see clarification on what types of spin serves are allowed. The two-handed chainsaw serve is going to be obsolete. This means that if you want to impart spin on the ball, you’ll have to use a one-handed variant. A little over two months ago I created a video showing you how to do ‘The Deadliest One-handed Serve in Pickleball’. With the rule changes on the horizon, it’s time to revisit this serve and go through a few tips that will help you master it!
Tip #1: Practice your toss without spin.
When you first try to add a ton of spin to the ball, your toss is going to be quite inconsistent. To compensate for this, work on your footwork and hand eye coordination. Start by going to the baseline, tossing the ball high into the air, reposition your feet while tracking the ball with your eyes, and finally hit a legal serve. As you get more comfortable with this drill, start to vary the height and position of the ball to mimic an inconsistent toss. This will train your body to quickly make small adjustments during your serve to ensure that you are as consistent as possible. It’s important to remember that you have 10 seconds to serve the ball from the time the score is called. If you mess up your toss, just catch it and try again.
Tip #2: Use a Band-Aid when practicing.
Whether you are using the finger flick version in the videos above, or the snapping style that you see Morgan Evans do, you’re going to have to practice a lot. A pickleball repeatedly rubbing against your fingers is no doubt going to cause skin irritation. I’ve found that I can avoid that irritation by using a Band-Aid on the areas where I’m applying pressure. Additionally, using some form of tape may help you get more grip when learning the serve.
It is worth noting that you will likely not be allowed to use tape or a Band-Aid on your finger during tournament/competitive play. The current version of the rule change reads, ‘No foreign substances, material, apparatus, or additional body parts can be applied to the hand or aid the hand that releases the pickleball.’ This could change when we get the official rule change documentation in December.
Tip #3: Use your dominant hand to spin the ball.
Trying to generate a lot of spin using your non-dominant hand can be very challenging. If you find this too challenging, then maybe consider using your dominant hand to spin the ball on the toss. You can spin the ball with your right hand while holding your paddle with your left hand, and then switch your paddle to your right hand as the ball falls. Next week’s blog post and video will be exploring a ton of legal variations of this serve so that you can choose the style that best fits your needs
If you’re in rec play, please don’t abuse this serve. Spin serves can take the fun out of the game for a lot of people that just want a casual game. If you’re in competitive play, you’re going to see some variation of it. Whether you love or hate this style of serve, it’s important to equip yourself with the tools to understand how it works. If you take the time to learn how this serve works, defending against it will be much easier.
WRITTEN BY DINK CONTRIBUTOR SHEA UNDERWOOD