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What is a Serve Fault in Pickleball?

Serve faults in pickleball range from simple errors like hitting the ball out of bounds to more complex issues like illegal serving technique.

In this 60 second guide, we highlight the common (and uncommon) faults that happen with pickleball serves.

What is a fault on a pickleball serve?

A serve fault in pickleball is when a serve fails to meet the requirements for a legal shot

The most common serve faults are:

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These serve faults happen frequently during games and are easy to recognize and call.

However, there are a variety of other serve faults in pickleball that are difficult to identify but important to watch for.

Other Types of Pickleball Serve Faults

Pickleball’s official serve rules define several criteria that must be met for a serve to be legal.  The following are violations of those rules and result in a fault:

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If any of the above occur, a fault should be called and the server loses their serve turn.

FAQs: Serve Faults in Pickleball

Where does a serve have to land in pickleball?

Pickleball serves are hit diagonally into the opponent’s court. They must land past the kitchen and kitchen line and on or inside the boundary lines in the area diagonal to the server.

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Can a serve hit the net in pickleball?

Yes - a serve that hits the net and lands in the correct area of the opponent’s court is a legal serve and should be played as a live ball. This is different from tennis where a “let” is called and the serve is replayed. 

For more info on serve lets in pickleball, including the history and related rules changes, see our blog post here.

How many faults do you get when serving in pickleball?

On each serve attempt to start a rally the server has only 1 serve attempt. If that serve attempt results in a fault then the server loses their serve turn.

Can your foot touch the line when you serve?

No - when serving in pickleball, the player must stay behind the service line until his or her paddle makes contact with the ball. After that the player can step into the pickleball court. 

In addition, the player must have at least 1 foot touching the ground when contact is made with the ball.

Can a serve hit the line in pickleball?

Yes and no! Serves must be beyond the kitchen and kitchen line to be a legal serve, so if a serve touches the kitchen or kitchen lines then it is a fault

Any other lines (e.g., center line, baseline, sideline) are legal as long as the ball is beyond the kitchen line.

What happens if a serve lands on the kitchen line or the kitchen sideline?

A serve landing on the kitchen line or sideline in the kitchen area is a fault and the server loses their turn.

Other lines (e.g., center line and baseline) are considered in on serves though. For info on all things lines in pickleball see our post "What Happens if the Ball Hits the Line in Pickleball".

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