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It’s vital that you know how to serve in padel if you want to play an effective game.
This shot is among the most important in the game.
When you serve, you have full control over your shot. You aren’t playing off an opponent’s rebound or a partner’s movement.
There are basic rules regarding the ways that you must serve the ball in padel.
But there are also strategies that you can use once you become more familiar with the game.
The right strategies can help you maximize your strengths and target your opponent’s weaknesses.
How to serve in Padel
Before getting into information about technique and strategy, it’s important to understand the rules of serving in padel.
Then you can learn how to serve effectively and employ different strategies to gain an advantage.
Regulations regarding serving
- Like with tennis, the serve is done diagonally across the court.
- Two attempts are allowed, so if you miss on the first one, you have another chance.
- The person serving needs to do so from behind the line.
- The returning person is allowed to stand in any part of the court, as long as it’s in the diagonal half to the server.
- A serve is done by bouncing the ball and then hitting it when it’s below the waist.
- After being served, the ball has to bounce in the opposing service box before the returner can hit it back.
- When the ball doesn’t hit the box, you suffer a fault.
- You can also be faulted if the ball does hit the box but then rebounds into the mesh fence prior to crossing the court service line.
- When the ball touches the net before bouncing into the box, it’s a let rather than a fault. But if the ball touches the wire fence prior to bouncing a second time, you suffer a fault.
The basics of a serve
As you can see in the regulations, a serve is completed by bouncing the ball and then hitting it when it’s below your waist height.
You must hit the ball at a diagonal angle into the opponent’s court.
If you don’t manage this diagonal angle, you’ll be faulted.
Some racket sports don’t allow more than one serve. But with padel, you get two tries.
This means that you can take more risks on your first serve, so that’s the time to experiment or make an aggressive play.
These are the things you should keep in mind when you’re working on your serve technique:
- Make sure you’re in the right place on the court before you serve.
- Keep your hand pointed downward as you hold the ball.
- Use a high back swing, making sure that your elbow also goes high into the air. Having a higher elbow allows you to create more spin on the serve.
- Drop the ball and let it bounce.
- The ball is hit when it reaches your waist height. You accelerate the paddle downward and propel the ball into the other court.
- By slicing the paddle under the ball instead of hitting straight, you generate more speed and spin. This ensures that the ball will stay low when it sails over the net, and it won’t bounce high.
- The lower the ball, the harder it is for the opposition to create a powerful return. This is part of what makes the serve one of the most important strategic shots.
According to the padel rules, the ball must be hit either at waist height or just below it.
You’ll generate the most power if you hit the ball as close to your waist as possible.
But you aren’t allowed to hit the ball if it’s higher than your waist, so practice to get your timing right.
Should you keep a second ball?
Padel is a fast-paced game that tends to have long rallies. You might have many back-and-forth shots before any of the teams score a point.
To throw your opponent off their game, you might need to smash the ball into their court.
Some padel players have a second ball that they keep in their pocket as they play.
This is for just in case something happens to the first ball. In addition, some players prefer to switch balls between rallies.
But it’s not a good idea to keep a second ball in your pocket. Since the rallies are so long, there’s no practical reason to have it on hand.
If you jump up to smash the ball into the other court, the second ball might roll out of your pocket.
Once it hits the court, you’ll have to play a let.
If you do have multiple balls that you plan to cycle through during a match, the best place to store them is by the post of the net.
This is a place where the equipment is out of everyone’s way but still easy to access.
Doing this helps you avoid incurring unnecessary penalties.
Padel serving strategies
You must always follow the basic guidelines when serving. You have to stand behind the proper line and serve diagonally into your opponent’s court.
The serving motion is always the same, in which you bounce the ball and then hit it.
With practice, you can learn to put spin on the ball to keep it low to the ground.
Where to aim
Though you must serve diagonally, there’s a lot of space in which your serve might land.
You have two main places to choose from:
- The middle of the court, close to the dividing line
- The edge of the court, close to the glass walls
Each of these approaches has a distinct advantage.
When you hit toward the middle of the court, your opponent may be forced to use a backhand on the return.
This means that the ball will have significantly less power, and it will also be harder to aim.
When you hit toward the glass, your opponent has to struggle to return the ball.
They’re forced to concentrate on keeping the ball in play, which means they can’t focus as much on generating power or exploiting your weaknesses.
You can practice aiming until you’re able to confidently execute both of these serves.
The one you’ll prefer will depend on the match and your opponents.
If you notice that an opponent has a weak backhand, you can exploit that.
Similarly, if you notice that an opponent struggles to make difficult shots at odd angles, you can exploit that.
The best serve formation
There are two main types of formation used in padel serves: classic and Australian.
With a classic formation, the partners on a team will switch sides to allow one player to occupy each side.
This is often used by beginners and amateurs, especially if they’re coming into the game from a different racket sport with a similar formation.
Classic formations are rather limited, though. It’s rare for them to be used by professionals.
Australian serves have different rules.
With this setup, you stay on your designated portion of the court regardless of what side your partner decides to serve from.
Most professional tournaments use this setup, and the World Padel Tour considers it the standard.
This tour is the biggest international competition for the sport.
In an Australian formation, each partner takes responsibility for one side of the court.
They don’t cross over into their partner’s territory, and they specialize in their specific position.
One potential drawback to an Australian serve is how fast you need to run.
After the serve, you have to move toward the net.
But with an Australian formation, you have to cover a greater distance to get to the net. This makes it a formation that’s best for agile players.
Common Padel serving mistakes
As you practice, you can learn to aim accurately and put spin on the ball.
The more you practice, the more control you have over where your serve goes.
But it’s important to remember that serves are supposed to be simple.
New players in particular tend to overcomplicate the serve.
They may not have the timing down yet, or they’re just trying too hard to use complex techniques.
Within the motion of the serve itself, these are some of the most common errors:
- Hitting the ball before it reaches waist height
- Hitting at an upward angle that prevents the ball from landing low
- Swinging the racket too hard and either missing the stroke or aiming badly
Players are also sometimes lulled into a false sense of security with their first serve.
They’ll hit aggressively, and then they’ll serve poorly on their second turn.
Another frequent error is running to the net too soon.
You have to hit the ball and complete the serve before you can run forward.
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