By: CJ Johnson | March 13, 2018 |

Playing Tip: Stay Back After Your Serve

The goal is to get to the kitchen line (non-volley zone) as quickly as you can but don’t be in too big of a rush.  When you were a novice, you didn’t stay back after your serve, and you lost a point or two by hitting a shot before letting the return of serve bounce. Ah well, hopefully, your partner forgave you because I think most of us have done it a time or two.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Novices, as well as experienced players, often jump the gun on moving forward. They hit a serve or watch their partner serve and then take a step or two inside the baseline.  If the player on the other side of the net is playing percentage pickleball, they are trying to land the return of serve deep in the court close to the baseline. If they execute and you’ve moved inside the baseline, the likely result is the return of serve lands at your feet and you are caught without room to execute the next shot.

If you notice your partner getting a head start, remind them to stay back. A distance of two feet or so behind the baseline is ideal for most of us. REMEMBER: It’s easier to move forward than backward.

On the other hand, if you see an opponent who has a habit of moving forward prematurely, think of hitting the ball deep to his fee.  Try to make him back up. If he does hit the shot it’s likely it will be a soft shot into midcourt which hopefully you’ll be ready to pounce!

Bev writes a weekly email blast for our pickleball club. She delivers the rules with clarity and a sense of humor. If you have a rules question post it in the comments below.


CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)