Happiest of Holidays Picklers!

This issue is short and sweet given the holidays. We’re in the thick of it and whether you celebrate the holidays (or not), it’s always a good idea to bundle up and keep playing! 

Speaking of bundling up, have you seen the ball warmer next to the water cooler? Please remember to replace your balls there after play and not in the usual ball holders on the courts. This wonderful contraption (thank you to Rick Clark for making it happen!) is saving us! Maybe not the perfect solution, but it is helping with the ball cracking. 

Another thing you can do is rotate balls–grab 2 from the warmer, put one in your pocket and play with that one the next game while the first ball you played with, warms in your pocket. 

We appreciate you helping us by keeping them warm–they’re not cheap. 

Deb Richter gifted our club with a big basket of balls which has really helped! 

AND…we invested in some of the new Selkirk ProS1 unbreakable balls. They’re kept in the warmer–tell us what you think of them!

Okay, on with the newsletter–this issue is highlighting serves. It’s not enough to just get it in anymore–your serve can give you a formidable edge to your game. Read up on how to make that happen. 

AND…mark your calendar! The Chili Cookoff is happening on Monday, January 29th from 12-2:30. If you’re interested in competing, please email our social chair, Betsey Merriken as soon as possible, bbmerriken55@gmail.com. 

Pickle ON!

When you started playing pickleball, just getting your serve in was all you likely cared about. And while that may have been the right way to begin, it’s time to take another look at your serve if you want to evolve as a player. 

As a matter of fact, a key aspect of the game that has evolved significantly is the serve. No longer just a means to start a rally, the serve in pickleball has become a critical element of strategy and a potent weapon in winning points.

Key Elements of an Effective Serve

1. Spin: Adding spin to the serve can drastically change its trajectory and bounce, making it difficult for the opponent to return. Topspin serves dip quickly, forcing the opponent to hit upward. Backspin (or slice) serves stay low and can skid, making them tricky to handle.

2. Slicing: Slicing the ball on the serve can create a lateral movement, causing the ball to swerve away from or towards the opponent. This unpredictability can catch the opponent off guard and lead to weak returns.

3. Power: A powerful serve can be overwhelming, especially if accurately placed. While power is an asset, it’s important to balance it with control to ensure the serve lands within the bounds of the service box.

Executing a Good Serve

1. Grip and Stance: A continental grip (similar to holding a hammer) is versatile for serving and will help add to your serve while an eastern grip will keep the ball flatter. Your stance should be balanced and comfortable, with your feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Toss and Strike: The ball toss is crucial. It should be consistent and at a height where you can hit the ball in your preferred strike zone. When striking, use a fluid motion, transferring weight from your back foot to your front foot. Remember, it’s illegal to hit the ball above your waist. 

3. No Toss Serve: You can also serve without tossing the ball by holding it in one hand and striking it with your paddle in an underhand motion. The paddle must make contact with the ball below your waist, and at the point of contact, your arm must be moving in an upward arc. The highest part of the paddle head must not be above the highest part of your wrist when striking the ball. This method ensures the serve adheres to the official rules of pickleball. It also ensures a lot of power behind the ball. 

4. Placement and Variation: Aim for specific areas in the service box to keep your opponent guessing. Varying your serves between deep and short, left and right, can disrupt your opponent’s rhythm.

4. Practice: Like any skill, mastering the serve requires practice. Experiment with different types of serves and practice under different conditions. Make serves a part of your drilling routine.

The serve in pickleball has evolved from a mere starter into a pivotal part of the game. By mastering spin, slice, and power, and by strategically placing your serves, you can gain a significant advantage over your opponent. 

Remember, a well-executed serve not only starts the point but can also be the first step towards winning it.

That’s it for this issue–don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook! 

Connestee Falls Pickleball Club

Let’s Play!