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How to serve in padel

One of the fastest ways of improving your game is to work on your serve. Land a good serve and, even if you don't win the point immediately, it often puts you in control. Any time you spend practising your serve, or even thinking about how you might surprise and unsettle your next opponents, is likely to be time well spent. 


Here are a few simple tips to transform your serve.


Firstly, What Are The Rules For Serving?

You must serve underarm, after bouncing the ball once. Hit the ball at waist height or below, while keeping both feet behind the service line, and at least one foot in contact with the ground. You start by serving from the right-hand side of the court, hitting the ball over the net and diagonally opposite into the receiver’s service box.


For the next point, serve from the left-hand side, again hitting the ball diagonally across the net, and then alternate between left and right for the rest of your service game. You get two serves.


If the ball bounces in the service box and hits the side or back wall, that’s a valid serve. However, it’s a fault if the ball lands in the box and then hits the wire fencing. If the ball hits the net, bounces in the service box and then against the side or back wall, that’s a let, and the serve should be replayed. However, if the ball hits the net, lands in the service box, and then strikes the wire fence, that’s a fault.


What Are Some Simple Ways To Improve Your Serve?


Surprise, which comes from practice 

You want the receiver to always be guessing about the speed, spin and direction of your next serve. If you become predictable, the receiver will get into position to hit an aggressive return. That’s why it’s important to mix it up, sometimes serving down the ’T’, sometimes to the receiver’s feet and sometimes towards the side wall, while also varying the pace, and sometimes using spin and sometimes hitting it flat. To hit a variety of serves, you need to practise. The good thing about the serve is that it’s easy to practise - you don’t need anyone else, just you and some balls.


Know Your Opponent’s Weaknesses

If you can, watch your opponents in a match before you play them, and identify their weaknesses. How can you exploit those weaknesses? Which serves will they find the most awkward? Don’t serve the same way against every receiver but find the way to make today’s opponents as uncomfortable as possible.


Aim for the glass wall

If you can hit a serve that lands in the service box and bounces off the glass wall, that’s going to give you a little bit more time to get to the net.



If you can slice your serve, the ball’s going to stay low after bouncing, which will make it harder for the receiver to play an attacking return. You probably don’t want to hit a topspin serve as the ball will bounce up, giving the receiver more opportunity to play an aggressive return, but maybe throw one in occasionally as a surprise.


Go deep or short

If you can serve the ball deep, the receiver is going to be cramped when playing their return. And if you can drop our serve in short, the receiver might not always reach the ball before it bounces for a second time. And even if they do get there, they might only be able to scoop the ball up over the net, giving you an easy second shot. 


Fast isn't always best

While a quick serve can sometimes be very effective as the receiver will have to rush their shot, and might not even reach the ball, don't think you should hit every serve as fast as possible. Remember that if you take some pace off the serve, you're giving yourself more time to get into net to play your second shot.


Just get your second serve in 

You should be comfortable with playing a safer second serve, just to ensure it's in and you get the point started. If you go for too much with your second serve, and hit a double fault, that's a free point for the receiver.


When you’re practising, work on second serves that you know you can always land, and which you’ll be able to rely on when you're at a crucial stage of a match. You might want to hit a flat second serve, rather than loading the ball with spin, and aim for the centre of the box. 


Don't rush 

Don't just walk up to the service line and instantly hit the ball, without even pausing to think. Take your time before serving. Spend a few moments plotting the serve you're going to hit. That's true before a first serve, and perhaps even more important before a second serve when there's a risk of a double fault. 


Can you serve with your backhand? 

Yes. There are several reasons why you would choose to do that. Your backhand might be stronger than your forehand. You might find it easier hitting a slice serve with your backhand - as it's more of a natural motion on that side - than with your forehand.


Also, occasionally serving with your backhand is going to help you mix it up and will keep the receiver guessing what you’ll do next.

Raquel Ruiz,

Journalist and Community Manager

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