Illegal Pickleball Serve

Illegal Pickleball Serve | Definitive Guide

A thin line lies between Legal and illegal Pickleball Serve. Following the Pickleball serving rules results in legal serves while violating the serving rules ends in illegal serves. Such as serving above the wrist, & waist, overhanded striking, or server’s more than 10 seconds, leading to illegal serves.

Remember, the legal service follows all the guidelines set forth by USAPA. USAPA is the governing body of Pickleball Sport.

Legal Serve

However, an Illegal Pickleball serve happens when any USAPA parameter isn’t met. Rules violation results in losing the serve and score point for a player or the whole team.

Illegal Pickleball Serves Types

Pickleball is an enjoyable and thrilling sport experiencing a rapid surge in popularity. Regrettably, numerous players are unknown about the rules regarding illegal serves. However, they push themselves into difficulties with their referees or opponents.

There are following three types of illegal serves that you need to remind while playing pickleball. 

Overhead Serve:

This illegal pickleball serve occurs when the server player hits the serve upwardly. You can hit this shot over the net without bouncing it on your court. 

This service unfairly benefits the server; that’s why it’s considered illegal. This service permits you to hit directly on your opponent’s head and also makes it difficult for your return. 

Though, pickleball players are penalized and warned for breaking the rule by playing this illegal shot.

Double Hit Serve:

The most usual serve is the double-hitting Serve while playing the pickleball match. This happens when a player strikes the ball with their paddle more than once before it crosses over to the opponent’s court.

The noteworthy point is this twice-hitting serve might be accidental or intentional, but regardless of intention, it leads to a sudden loss of scores for the server’s team.

The coach or referee may impose additional penalties if you repeatedly commit double-hit serves during a match. These penalties can range from warnings and point deductions to disqualification from the game or tournament. However, penalty severity is directly related to violations of regulations and rules.

Carry or Throw Serve:

This illegal pickleball serve is called the “push or lob serve.” It is important to note that this type of service should not be attempted in any pickleball game. When you throw your ball upward into the air, it strikes the net, or you may carry your shot with the paddle before hitting it.

If your umpire determines that either serves is illegal, they can award a point to the opposing team.

The helpful approach to remind this rule is that when serving, the wrist should primarily provide the power, rather than relying on the shoulder for strength. This ensures a fair and proper service within the rules of pickleball.

Illegal pickleball Serves can frequently cause disputes on your court among players due to advantages. However, it’s essential to refrain from any attempts to execute this carry or throw serves during your gameplay.

  • Using An Overhand Stroke
  • Serving Above (Navel Level) Waist Level 
  • Your Paddle head above the wrist
  • A Serve that needs longer time than 10 seconds
  • Landing in the Kitchen
  • Standing in front of the Baseline
  • Hitting your ball anywhere in the court but slightly adjacent to the Service Box

Legal vs. Illegal Serving

However, players need to know the actual difference between Legal and Illegal Pickleball Serves. Regarding this, we have brought a table for Pickleball Players. This table compares legal and illegal servings in pickleball, highlighting the key differences in terms of technique, positioning, and outcomes.

Legal ServesIllegal Serves
The server’s foot remains behind the baseline during the serve.The server’s foot crosses the baseline during the serve.
The ball strikes below waist levelThe ball strikes above waist level
The serve is made diagonally and must clear the NVZ (kitchen).The service is made diagonally and must clear the NVZ (kitchen).
The server player establishes contact with the ball within the serving area.The server player makes contact with the ball outside the serving area.
The serve lands within the opponent’s diagonal court.The serve lands outside the opponent’s diagonal court.
The serve must not touch the net and goes directly to the opponent’s court.The serve hits the net and fails to clear it or lands out of bounds.
The server hits the ball without spinning or spinning it minimally.The server player applies excessive spin on his ball.
The serve is made underhand, with an upward swing.The serve is made with an overhead swing or any other illegal stroke.
The serve is made underhand with an upward swing.The server attempts to serve again after committing a fault.

Penalties for playing the Illegal Pickleball Serve

While playing the pickleball sport, you must know that an illegal Pickleball serve is deemed a fault and leads to a point awarded to the opposing team. The fault’s severity leads to a warning for you from your referee.

In pickleball tournaments, repeated violations can lead to disqualification from the entire tournament or expulsion from the game. You must remain mindful of your surroundings and adhere to pickleball rules. Then you can prevent all the disciplinary actions or penalties. 

Award score to the Opposite team

Awarding your point to the opposing team after committing the Illegal Pickleball Serve is the typical consequence for this serve in pickleball. Regardless of the violation, the opposing team will consistently gain a point.

The rules in pickleball ensure that players are responsible for their actions and discourage any attempts to exploit loopholes. Moreover, This framework also motivates players to hone their serving techniques since errors can prove costly in terms of conceding points.

Service Disruptions

In certain instances, when an illegal serve occurs, certain offending teams or players may experience a loss of service. It shows that switching sides on the court and relinquishing their next opportunity to serve until their opponent has served twice (or once in the case of doubles).

It offers the time to refocus and reset yourself before resuming your play. This can be advantageous for players grappling with consistency problems. When adhering to the established regulations set by the governing body, such as the USAPA in the case of pickleball, serving correctly becomes crucial. 

How can you avoid the Illegal Pickleball Serve?

We’ll never make a mistake during gameplay is an unrealistic thing, Particularly when coming to games like pickleball and making the serve. However, various strategies can reduce the number of illegal pickleball serve. 


When playing serves in pickleball, the most effective approach to improving is through practice. Engaging in drills and dedicating time to solo practice sessions for serves can greatly enhance your skills. Seizing the opportunity for practice is essential since serving can be easily done individually. 

Although you are not obliged to serve in a manner that feels unfamiliar or uncomfortable, honing your proficiency in every type of service allows you to transition between them seamlessly during games. The primary objective is ensuring the ball does not bounce while serving. 


Pickleball is an exceedingly swift sport that demands precise control and agility for proficient gameplay. Irrespective of your amount of practice, lacking command over your movements often result in committing faults during your play. 

Fortunately, numerous methods exist to enhance agility and refine your movement control, enabling you to steer clear of illegal pickleball serve and perform at a higher level.

Update your Rules understanding

Sometimes, revisiting the rules can prove beneficial, along with extensive playing experience. Players often become engrossed in the act of playing, leading them to overlook the rules, leading to faults inadvertently. 

Furthermore, rules can be revised, particularly for professionals who must rely on the regulations that are offered by the International Federation (USAPA) of Pickleball. 

Observe and Gain your Knowledge

You’re proficient in acquiring the value-added insights of gameplay by watching the tournaments or fellow players. You must closely notice their positioning on the court, paddle grip & placement, and ball-releasing techniques. Thus, your careful observation and practice may reach your game to the next level. 

  • Practice Makes Perfect
  • Work On Your Agility
  • Watch And Learn
  • Brush Up On The Rules
  • Practice Each Type Of Serve


It’s essential to note what qualifies as legal and illegal Pickleball serves in your gameplay. It’s because engaging yourself in illegal Pickleball serve can result in negative consequences such as point deductions for individuals or teams. Furthermore, these illicit serves can potentially cause injuries to players and inflict damage upon the court. It is paramount to thoroughly understand the game’s rules and adhere to them diligently. You can avoid the penalties and ensure a safe and fair playing environment.

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