Pickleball 101: How to Return a Serve

Being ready for whatever your opponent sends over the net is the first step to a successful pickleball match.

May 17, 2018

It’s important to master the pickleball serve. But on the other side of the net, it’s just as important to be able to return your opponent’s serve.


“Since the ball isn’t coming at you too aggressively,”Founder of Level-Up Pickleball Camps Wayne Dollard says, “you’ve got your choice where you want to place the return and how deep you want to hit it.”


This allows you to use some strategy.


Dollard offers three tips to keep in mind when returning a pickleball serve:


  • Focus on the depth of the return. A deep shot can make it more difficult for your opponents to hit both hard ground strokes and a third shot drop. A deep return can be critical in neutralizing a strong third shot.
  • Choose a target — usually the player who has a weaker third shot. It can also make a difference to avoid the player with a stronger forehand.
  • Keep ball height in mind. It’s imperative to have enough time to get up to the non-volley line to make the next shot. A deep, high return can help give you the time you need. Quicker players may look to use a deep ball with a little backspin. With this, the ball tends to stay low and slide a little on the court, so players hitting the third shot drop could underestimate the spin and hit the ball into the net.


“So, remember on your return to serve, keep the ball deep, hit to the player that’s less likely to hurt you and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to the net,” Dollard says.


By following these tips, you will be on your way to a successful pickleball match.


And make sure you’re equally as prepared when serving the ball with these pickleball serving tips.