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Perfect Your Right-Foot Serve Returns


Hello, pickleball enthusiasts!

Ready to transform your serve return game? Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, mastering the art of the return serve in pickleball can set the stage for dominating the court.

In this edition, we dive deep into the techniques that will not only enhance your returns but also sharpen your competitive edge from the moment the ball hits your paddle. So, gear up, grab your paddle, and let’s swing into action with some expert tips to upgrade your game!

Improving your serve return is crucial

Here are some tips and techniques to help you enhance your serve return:

1. Positioning and Stance

  • Ready Position: Stand just behind the baseline with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and weight on the balls of your feet.

  • Paddle Position: Hold your paddle up and in front of you, ready to react to the serve quickly.

2. Anticipation and Footwork

  • Watch the Server: Pay close attention to the server’s body language and paddle position to anticipate the direction and type of serve.

  • Quick Footwork: Move quickly to get into the best position to return the serve, using small, quick steps to adjust your stance.


Beginner vs Intermediate vs Advanced Serve Returns @selkirksport @universal.rackets #wearepickleball #teamselkirk #selkirksport

3. Shot Selection

  • Deep Return: Aim to hit a deep return towards the baseline of your opponent’s court. This pushes them back and gives you time to get to the net.

  • Placement: Try to direct your return to your opponent’s weaker side, usually their backhand.

  • Variety: Mix up your returns with different angles, speeds, and spins to keep your opponent guessing.

4. Technique

  • Grip: Use a continental grip or an eastern forehand grip, which allows for versatility and control.

  • Contact Point: Make contact with the ball out in front of your body, ideally at waist height.

  • Follow Through: Ensure a smooth follow-through to control the depth and direction of your return.

5. Adding Spin

  • Topspin: To add topspin, brush up on the ball with a low-to-high paddle motion. This helps the ball clear the net and dip into the court.

  • Slice: For a slice return, cut under the ball with a high-to-low motion. This keeps the ball low and can be effective against opponents who struggle with low shots.

6. Consistency

  • Focus on Accuracy: Prioritize getting the return in play over hitting a powerful shot. Consistency is key to a successful return game.

  • Practice: Repeatedly practice serve returns with a partner or a ball machine. Focus on different types of serves to improve your reaction and adaptability.

7. Mental Preparation

  • Stay Calm: Remain composed, especially when facing strong serves. Confidence and a calm mindset can significantly improve your performance.

  • Visualization: Before the match, visualize successful returns. This mental preparation can enhance your focus and execution.

8. Drills to Improve Serve Return

  • Shadow Drills: Practice your return stance and movement without the ball to perfect your footwork and positioning.

  • Target Practice: Set up targets on the court and aim to return serves to those spots. This helps improve accuracy and placement.

  • Partner Drills: Have a partner serve to you from various angles and speeds, and practice returning consistently.

  • Ball Machine: Use a ball machine to practice returning different types of serves repetitively.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Standing Too Far Back: Being too far from the baseline can make it difficult to return short or low serves.

  • Overhitting: Trying to return with too much power can lead to errors. Focus on control and placement.

  • Lack of Preparation: Not getting into a ready position quickly can result in poor returns.

🏁 Tip of the week: Use the Topspin Dropshot

Performing a topspin drop in pickleball involves combining elements of finesse and spin to make the ball land softly in your opponent's court with a forward spin, making it difficult for them to return. Here’s a step-by-step guide to executing this advanced shot:

1. Positioning and Preparation

  • Footwork: Position yourself with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and weight balanced on the balls of your feet. Stand close to the non-volley zone line if you're at the net.

  • Grip: Use a continental grip or an eastern grip, whichever feels more comfortable and allows you to control the spin.

2. Approach the Ball

  • Anticipate: Read your opponent's shot and prepare to move toward the ball.

  • Move Quickly: Approach the ball with small, quick steps to ensure you're in the right position for a controlled shot.

3. Execute the Stroke

  • Backswing: Keep your backswing short and controlled. The paddle should stay low, around knee height.

  • Contact Point: Meet the ball out in front of your body, just below net height.

4. Creating the Topspin

  • Brush Up: As you make contact with the ball, brush up on it with a low-to-high motion. This brushing action generates topspin.

  • Follow Through: Follow through with your paddle moving upwards and slightly forward, ensuring the spin is imparted effectively.

5. Control the Drop

  • Soft Hands: Use a gentle touch to keep the ball from bouncing too high. The topspin will help it drop quickly on the other side of the net.

  • Aim: Aim for the area just beyond the net in your opponent’s non-volley zone (the kitchen). This minimizes their ability to attack the return.

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That’s a wrap on supercharging your serve return! With these tips and drills under your belt, you’re well on your way to becoming a formidable player who can handle any serve thrown your way.

Remember, the key to mastering pickleball lies in consistent practice and mental preparation. Keep these strategies in mind, hit the courts, and most importantly, have fun watching your game improve rally by rally.

Until next time, keep swinging and stay dill-ightful on and off the courts!


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