Who Serves First in Pickleball -The Insider’s Guide to Serving and Advantage in 2023

New to Pickleball? Welcome first to Serve!

Pickleball is a fun and competitive game enjoyed by players of all ages. The Pickleball game’s rules may vary slightly depending on the level of play, location, and server number throughout the game. Still, one rule remains the same: a coin toss determines who serves first in pickleball doubles. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran of the game, understanding who serves first in pickleball is an important part of the start of the game.  

Learning the basics of server numbers can help you gain an edge in your game. We’ll begin by exploring the rules and regulations governing which side serves first in pickleball and why so that you can start playing your best game immediately. So grab your paddle and balls, and let’s get ready to score points.

who serves first in pickleball

 Who Serves First in Pickleball?

If you play pickleball, you know that the game can involve a bit of strategy and skill—especially regarding the serving. Knowing basic pickleball rules and understanding the receiving team can help you become a better player.

Traditional Rules for Serving Order:

A coin toss or a paddle flip is used to decide who will get a chance to serve in pickleball. The person who wins the coin toss or paddle flip get to serve if they want to be the server or receiver. Following this, the game starts with the server hitting the ball over the net and into their opponent’s court.

An exception to Traditional Rule:

In certain situations, players on the serving may select a different approach, such as rock-paper-scissors or mini-rally. It is essential to remember that the choice should be made before the match commences, with both sides coming to an accord on choosing who serves first in pickleball a chance to serve.

The players on the serving team are responsible for serving the first two points. Switching sides for each point, the first server team will continue to alternate until one team reaches 11 points. The team that wins the first two points will serve first in the next inning.

 How to Determine which team serves first in pickleball

Which Team Gets the First Service turn of the Game?

 which team serves first in pickleball

The server is the player or team that serves the ball. The player on the server will continue to serve until they make an error. After that, the opponent team takes over the serving side. The serving team changes after each side out or point. Whenever the serving team scores a point, they and their partner alternately switch sides; while the receiving pair remains on the same side until they become the serving duo.

Strategies For first Serving In Pickleball

A player who serves first in pickleball can gain an advantage during service through strategic placement of shots, such as aiming for corners or down the line, making it difficult for their opponent to return correctly.

Additionally, spin techniques like topspin or backspin can cause the opposition to struggle with their returns, making it harder to win points. Variations such as flat or slice serve can also add variety and make it harder for opponents to predict the next serve. Combined, these strategies can give experienced players a significant edge over their less experienced counterparts regarding serving.

Benefits Of Knowing The First Serving Rules

Understanding serve and scoring points helps players better understand the game’s progression and allows them to employ advanced tactics such as placement and spin techniques. Furthermore, recognizing who always serve first can help players build better mental resilience since they can anticipate what kind of shots they should expect from their opponents and be better prepared with their responses.

Moreover, recognizing who serves first in pickleball can help prevent any confusion between teammates since everyone knows exactly when it is their turn to serve, averting any disputes.

Pros and Cons of First Service Turn

The sport of pickleball has gained tremendous popularity in recent years, and with that, the introduction of serving turn in pickleball has been a hot topic of debate. We will explore the pros and cons of incorporating first turn in pickleball and help you decide if is it better to know who serves first in pickleball. From the improved control and strategy to the potential risk of injury, we will look at the arguments for and against the first turn in the game.

pros and cons of being first server

Advantages of Being The First Server

The pros of serving depend on the players’ preferences and playing styles throughout the game.

  • A player who served first has an advantage because they can control the point and dictate the pace of play. This can be particularly useful for a player with an aggressive style who wants to take control from the outset. 
  • Players on serving can set the tone for the game, forcing your opponent to adjust to your rhythm. This can be an effective strategy for experienced players, as it can give them the upper hand in a match. 
  • Serving first can give the server a psychological advantage, as the pressure put on their opponent can give them the upper hand in the point. It also provides a chance to gain an early advantage, as they can take the lead in the match.
  • The first team can set up its shots and create an offensive strategy. This allows you to control the game and gives you an advantage over your opponents. Additionally, if you are a skilled server, you can use the power of your service to win points.
  • Serving first also allows you to “warm up” to the game before your opponents can adjust. You can take a few practice shots to get a feel for the court and test out your serves before they can react. This can be especially useful if you are playing against a skilled opponent who has a good return of serve and fear of might loses the serve.
  • Serving first also allows you to take the initiative and be active in the game. It can make it more difficult for your opponent to anticipate your next move; as a result receiving team cannot score.

Learn more about pickleball scoring rules.

Cons of Being First Server

On the other hand, allowing your opponent to have the right to serve first can be beneficial as it gives them a chance to establish their position in the game before you make your move.

  • Serving first presents a higher level of stress to earn the point and serve is lost. A mistake on the serve can swiftly result in a point lost, putting the squad at a disadvantage. If one falls behind while serving first, the chances of overturning the deficit may be diminished. It also allows you to gather information about their playing style, which you can use to your advantage.
  • It can be a disadvantage if you’re playing on a court with a strong wind which can be a difficult challenge.
  • Additionally, you may be more vulnerable to being outplayed by your opponents. They can easily return your shots and put you on the defensive if you do not have strong enough serves. This can put you at a disadvantage and make it difficult to come back and win the game.
  • One of the drawbacks is you may be more prone to making mistakes. If you are unfamiliar with pickleball’s serving rules or are still learning the game, the team commits a fault that costs you a point. Additionally, the game can slow down if you are inconsistent in your service due to the lack of momentum.

Ultimately, it is up to each player to decide which approach works best for them in any given situation.

Rules of Serving in Pickleball

In pickleball, players take turns serving, beginning on the left side of the court and then switching after each point. Players must remain behind their baseline while serving, and their feet must remain on the ground until after hitting the ball; otherwise, it would be considered a foot fault, leading to an immediate point loss.

Additionally, the ball must bounce twice before landing in the opponent’s court; otherwise, this would be considered a double bounce and would also result in a point loss.


When a point is scored, the server moves to the left side of the court (odd court) and serves to the diagonally opposite court. On the serving team, both players continue to alternate sides, shifting from right to left or left to right, with serving team’s score.

Singles scoring follows the same rules as playing doubles, with a few differences. For example, the same rules for the Non-Volley Zone, line calls, and faults apply in both strategies. . Although the serving rules in pickleball may be slightly different, this game is still fun and exciting, allowing you to hone your skills and challenge yourself.

Yes, a player can serve from anywhere on the court. Players are not restricted to serving from the right-hand side of the court only, as is the case in tennis. . This allows players to mix up their serves and keep their opponents guessing. So grab a friend or two, grab some paddles and balls, and get ready to play singles!

A let service in pickleball is when a service is played, and it hits the net but still goes over and lands in the court. The rule states that the point is replayed or let if this happens. This allows both players to continue playing the point, and the server gets a chance to make a better serve.

Beginner players typically use this type of serve as it helps them practice their technique without the ball bouncing too hard or too high.

Double hitting the ball is not allowed If a player double hits the ball during service, it is considered a fault and the point is awarded to the opposing team.

Final Verdict

Ultimately, pickleball scoring plays an essential role in the game. The service is the initial stroke of each point and can decide the course of the point. The answer to who serves first in pickleball depends on the type of game being played. Generally speaking, the player who scored the last point in the preceding game serves first.

If it is the start of the game of a match, then the players can decide who serves first or a coin can be flipped to determine the server. The server must then hit the ball to the opposite side of the court and over the net for the point to count. The server will continue to serve each time his/her team wins a point until they lose the rally or the game.

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