Can you bounce the ball on a pickleball serve | Explained

Pickleball is a simple paddle game played with a baseball-sized wiffleball over a tennis-type net on a Badminton-sized court. This unique sport combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, making it a fun and challenging game for players of all ages and skill levels. But one question that often comes up among pickleball players is, can you bounce the ball on a pickleball serve?

The short answer is yes, you can bounce the ball on a pickleball serve. In fact, it is a common technique used by many players to add variety and unpredictability to their serves. But let’s dive deeper into the rules and strategies behind this technique.

Serving Rules

Does the ball have to bounce in pickleball, let’s delve into the rules of serve for pickleball game.

Rules for Service Motion, Positioning, and Legitimate Serves

The serve must be executed using an underhand stroke, ensuring that the ball is contacted below the level of the waist (navel), with the tip of the paddle head positioned below the wrist, and the arm moving in an upward arc.

During the moment of striking the ball, the server must have at least one foot positioned on the court surface behind the baseline, either directly on or within the imaginary lines extending from the centerline and the sideline.

A serve that hits the net and lands within the service court is termed a “let,” permitting the server to make another attempt, with no restriction on the number of such occurrences. If a “let” serve makes contact with the partner of the person receiving the serve before touching the court surface, the serve will be replayed as a let. If your serve makes contact with either of your opponents before bouncing, it results in a point for your team.

Service Bounce Rule

The serve and the service return must be allowed to bounce before striking the ball. Both sides are required to play a ground stroke on the first shot following the serve, and after these initial ground strokes, play may include volleys.

Serve Sequence Rules

Starting the Game: For the team initiating the game, only one person is designated to serve. The server begins in the right-hand court and must serve crosscourt to the backcourt diagonally opposite and beyond the non-volley zone line.

Scoring and Rotation: The team member serving the initial serve calls the score as “Zero, Zero, Two,” indicating their score, the opponent’s score, and the serving sequence. After scoring a point, the server re-positions to serve to the other court, never serving to the same person or serving box twice in a row.

Faults and Sideout: When the first serving team faults, they transfer or “sideout” the serve to the opposing team. The opposing team starts their first serving sequence with the player on the right-hand side of the court, calling the score as “Zero, Two, One.” Each player serves until their team faults or fails to score a point.

Continued Alternation: If the team on the receiving end scores with their second server, the serve transfers to the left side, and they call the score as “Two, Two, Two.” The service continues to alternate from side to side as long as points are won.

 Returning to Starting Team: After a series of points, the serve (sideout) returns to the original starting team, with both players completing their service turns. The score is called based on the positioning of the starting server, ensuring points are even when on the right side and odd when on the left side of the court. In this example, the score being called is “Two, Five, One.”

Non-Volley Zone Regulations

The Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) encompasses the rectangular court surface defined by the sidelines, the NVZ line, and the net. It’s important to note that the airspace above this surface is not considered part of the NVZ.

A fault will be declared if, during the act of volleying the ball, a player, their clothing, or paddle makes contact with the court within the non-volley zone.

Additionally, a fault will be declared if a player’s momentum, while volleying the ball, leads to contact with the court within the NVZ, even after play has ceased. The duration of this momentum has no specific time limit; it concludes only when the player has regained control over their momentum.

Players are allowed to enter the NVZ at any time, provided they have not hit the ball as a volley. Jumping over the NVZ to the out-of-bounds area while volleying a ball is permissible, as the lines do not extend upward.

Fault Rules

Any infractions, encompassing foot faults, net or post touches, double bounces, ball contact with a player or clothing in the air, and violations of any rule, are subject to being called by either team.

A fault is declared when a server’s foot extends into the court area or is positioned beyond the imaginary extension of the sideline and centerline.

In the case of a ball hitting the net support post, it results in a dead ball fault when the ball contacts the side posts.

Catching the ball or getting hit constitutes a fault, particularly if a player catches the ball and falsely claims it was going out. The ball must bounce on the court surface without interference.

If the ball makes contact with a player before bouncing, regardless of whether the player is inside or outside the court boundaries, it is considered a fault.

Furthermore, any violations within the Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) are categorized as faults.

Other basic rules for bounce the ball on a pickleball serve

Hand Hitting the Ball: Legal hits involve the paddle hand below the wrist while holding the paddle. It is a fault if the ball makes contact with any other part of the body.

Handling “Out” Balls: An “out” ball is not considered “out” until it bounces. Do not catch it or let it hit you in the air.

Immediate Calls: Make calls promptly to ensure fair play.

Double/Carry Hits: A ball hit during a continuous single direction stroke is legal, even if unintentionally hit twice or “carried.”

Switching Hands: The paddle can be switched from hand to hand at any time. Two-handed shots are also permissible.

Reaching Over the Net: When the ball bounces onto your side and spins back over the net, you may reach over the net (breaking the plane) to hit the ball. It is a valid return if you or your paddle does not touch the net.

Fault vs. Partner Communication: A player can call the ball “out” as their partner hits, provided the call is immediate. To communicate to your partner not to hit the ball, use phrases like “bounce it,” “let it go,” “no,” or “out.”

Saying “out” before the ball touches the court is considered communication, while saying it after the bounce stops play.

Around the Net: It is not a fault if a ball lands in the opponent’s court by travelling around the post, avoiding direct passage over the net.


Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, it’s essential to continually work on your serve to keep your opponents guessing and ultimately come out victorious in every game. And let’s not forget the fun factor there’s nothing quite like the feeling of successfully executing a bounce serve on your opponent or getting that perfect angle shot with a third-shot drop. So next time someone asks you, “Can you bounce the ball on a pickleball serve?”, confidently reply with a resounding yes and watch as their jaw drops in amazement.

Pickleball may have originally been created as a backyard game for all ages to enjoy, but it has turned into an intense and competitive sport embraced by people around the world. So grab your paddle and head to the court who knows? You might just become the next pickleball sensation. And remember, when it comes to serving in pickleball, always think outside the box (or court) because sometimes bouncing the ball is just what you need to catch your opponents off guard. Thank you for joining me on this journey through bounces serves in pickleball now go out there and put these tips into action!

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