With 2021 bringing a new optional drop serve to the game where you can drop the ball, let it bounce, and then hit it, who know what players will do with this serve, but even with the traditional Pickleball serve, it can be used as a weapon.
Jacqueline Paraiso, a certified teaching pro and former number one women’s professional racquetball player, says she always uses her Pickleball serve as a weapon. She mentioned, “When I started out playing Pickleball, people said to just get that ball over the net. I thought why do I just want to get that ball over the net? I want to get that ball over the net and have a weak return or no return. So that’s my strategy, same as in racquetball. I want to set myself up to win the rally and either with no return or a weak return so I can obviously win points.”
When Jacqueline starts a game, her strategy is to find the opponent’s weaknesses. If their backhand is weak, she uses that knowledge to her advantage. Many players also tend to protect their backhand so they edge more toward the backhand side in order to hit a forehand, but this opens them up to problems too, especially if a player has difficulty moving laterally. If this is the case, Jacqueline recommends hitting more of an angle across the net so they have to move to the ball and reach for their forehand.
Jacqueline also suggests players develop a number of serves. She stated, “I definitely use different heights and speeds and angles, much like racquetball. As far as a lob, I’ll throw a lob in if I’m having a difficult time getting the drive serve going or I am playing somebody that wants to drive it hard all the time and maybe has a harder time returning something slow and high. And so I’ll change it up for height for that reason. I might hit something higher because it brings the ball deeper in the court, but most of the time, I’m going to go for that drive serve just like I would in racquetball. I’m going to go for that ace before I go for a lob. That’s just the type of player I am.”
The serve can be such a difference maker as you try to move to higher levels. Being able to move your opponent from left to right with your serve is important. Of course, being able to move them from the baseline to the kitchen is also advantageous. Jacqueline says, “One of my serves is a slower serve. You start out fast with the motion, you take a little bit off so it just goes over the net. So a lot of the players are waiting for it deep in the back court. And that usually helps you with a setup because they’re reaching forward and they can pop it up because they don’t really have the control. I think the serve is such an important part of the game.”
Clearly Jacqueline’s viewpoint on the serve was in the minority for Pickleball players prior to 2020. However, the new drop serve should allow players to be a lot more aggressive. I can only imagine what Jacqueline is going to be able to do with her serve due to her racquetball background.
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