The rule is new this year. But since it is “provisional” it is temporary. It may be withdrawn next year. For details on this rule, please refer to the actual 2021 Rulebook (See page 25 Rule 4.A.8). Essentially when in the serving motion, you reach up as high as you can, then drop the ball without forcing it down or flipping it up in the air. After it bounces, you may hit the ball in any motion you like. Swing up, swing down, paddle to wrist orientation doesn’t matter. As long as your feet are behind the line, you can even drop the ball inside the court. You can hit it on the second bounce if you like. So long as you drop the ball properly, there are no rules prohibiting how you strike the ball, other than keeping your feet behind the baseline.
I have been using the drop serve a lot the past few months. I think it gives me more time to line up my serve rather than just hitting the ball directly out of the air. I also don’t need to worry about my swing path being legal. Tho as a warning, be careful about the bounce. The ball can bounce erratically. Not sure if it’s due to the ball bouncing off a hole in the ball or just an out of round ball. But if it happens, you can always pick up the ball and try again. Also, I wonder if the drop serve may just appeal to tennis players who are used to hitting the ball off a bounce?
Since this seems such a significant rule change, allowing so many options, I expected all sorts of creative new serves to come from it. So I asked a few teaching pros I’ve met, to get their thoughts on the drop serve. Do they use it in tournament play and do they teach it? Answer: no and mostly no.
Dave Velardo – Teaching Pro and founder of GamevisionAI.com . He also has a teaching website at http://proposalpickleball.com/ . You may remember Dave before Covid. He was teaching in our area but has since moved to Boston.
I believe the drop serve does not make sense for the great majority of players. This is because the ball doesn’t bounce up near the waist, and, generally you want to be making contact as high as possible while keeping it legal. Secondly, hitting the ball as it is descending is how the pros get a lot of topspin on their serves (the most common aggressive serve on the pro tour is the hard, deep, topspin serve).
However, of the hundreds of players I’ve seen play in New England, and of the dozens I’ve seen attempt the drop serve, I have seen two 3.5 players consistently hit an excellent, difficult to handle, hard, low drop serve. But when players ask me, I generally advise not to even bother trying it.
Rob Davidson – Teaching Pro and founder of RisePickleball.com. He is Nationally ranked in Men’s Pro Open Doubles, Director of Pickleball at BlueStar Resort in Arizona. I have attended several Rise Pickleball Camp events with Rob and he is the best. His camps are super fun. If I had any talent, I would be a helluva player by now. Anyway, I highly recommend taking one of his “destination camps”. You can find his camp locations and dates on his website.
There are no pros that are using it that I am aware of. There may be a few reasons for this but the main reason is that, no matter how high you drop the ball from, it’s not going to bounce up higher than your waist, and that is the level that many pros try to make contact with the ball at. Having a lower point of contact reduces the amount of velocity you can put on the ball and have it still go in. I played around with it for a half day and wasn’t sure if there was any significant benefit to using the drop serve.
I think the drop serve is a great option for beginner players. It also can add a different variety to serving (i.e. underspin). I personally don’t use it in competitive play, as I believe it doesn’t really provide any significant advantage over the traditional serve. I suggest that players work on both the traditional serve and the drop serve. It is still a provisional rule, so this is why I think all players must learn to serve out of the air as their primary option.
In addition to these comments, it seems the top players do not use the drop serve and do not even support the rule change. So it seems fairly likely this provisional rule will not be adopted for 2022. We’ll see. But if you are interested in giving it a try, check out the Jordan’s video below.
I hope you enjoyed the drop serve discussion. I welcome all comments.