What’s cooking with the Pickleball Spin Serve

Following the chainsaw ban, there have been rumors that Pickleball Spin Serve will be banned by 2023. In fact, the bill has been passed titled “Eliminating the Spin Serve” which validates the rumor. However, this isn’t the end of the spin. There’s “One-handed pre-spin serve”, which failed in the same year. I found the reasons quite controversial–both critical and appreciative. Besides, I also have some of my own that I’d be sharing shortly.

Well, pickleball spin serve was the most thrilling shot back in 2020. It used to be a huge flex of players who and plays knew the art of spinning. Mostly, the tennis players used to transition the game from dink and volleys to crazy spins. History holds more than just that about the spin tricks following all the way to its ban, so allow me to give you the insight with my research this week.

How to spin serve in pickleball:

Assuming that you’re a pure beginner, first, you need to know what actually is a spin serve and how to do it before I let you dive into the debate of legal or illegal.

How to spin serve in pickleball

“A pickleball spin serve means the ball’s rotation just after you hit it with your paddle. It’s like those spins in tennis, with similar names and types. However, the strategy is a bit different. Plus, it’s called chainsaw spin or the two-handed spin, which is now banned in pickleball as of 2022.”

Here’s How to spin serve in pickleball:

  • The ball will go perpendicular to your body, so point your dominant hand towards your non-dominant hand. 
  • Make a half circle with your left or non-dominant hand and hold the ball between your thumb and middle finger. 
  • Stay on the NVZ line and keep your posture flexible. It should be in a way that your ball will travel straight to the line. 
  • Now flick the ball using your middle finger than the thumb, so it goes high and falls back towards your dominant hand, where you’ll hit the ball with your paddle.

Tip: Keep your fingers flat and your thumb below the middle finger; otherwise, the ball won’t fall back towards your body. It’ll go up or in the same direction as your non-dominant hand. 

Types of spin: 

As I said, the spin types are similar to that of tennis. There’s topspin, backspin, and underspin. There’s also the fourth type, the no-spin. However, as the name suggests, it’s just a simple shot, so I’m not counting that here. 

Topspin: 

Topspin is a low to high serve for which you’ve to serve a little high and aim low, while the ball should rotate during the flight. It’s one of the hardest serves in pickleball, and if not practiced enough, you’ll be charged with a serve fault

Backspin: 

The reverse of the topspin is the backspin. Understand what the name says back-spin, which means the ball will move backwards. And as for it;’s flight, it’ll be low to high, which means you can serve underhand and add power and pace. It’s quite easier and the most popular among 4.0 and 5.0 players. It’s also called the slice shot. 

Underspin: 

Underspin is of two types: forehand and backhand. While the ball normally rotates during the flight, you just have to look out for the arcs. If you’re serving backhand, keep the arc lower, and make it high while gripping the paddle forehand. 

It’s all about the learning stage. Let’s get some facts now. Beginning with… 

Who introduced Pickleball Spin Serve?

Pickleball spin inventor Zane Navratil
Zane Navratil

Zane Navratil was the first person who introduced the spin and made all about it. He’s a tennis former tennis player who started his pickleball career at 18 and has been one of the top players of USA Pickleball for 8 years. Well, I already said that it was the tennis players who brought the spin into the game of pickleball while pickleball used to be so simple. 

It was the 2020-2022 era where spin ruled the game of pickleball. Many pro players, i.e. Sarah Ansboury, John Cincola, Jorja Johnson etc., have dominated the game with their spins which sometimes result in crazy bounces. The spin was so in the trend that the amateur and beginners leagues also witnessed one of the amazing spinnings worth spectating. 

However, spin shots are riskier for how they make the return destructive. Depending on how your opponent plays it, it can be a miss or hot. If he handled it well, you would receive an extremely complicated shot.  However, the spinner always has the edge over his opponents because spins aren’t easy to play. And, 90% time, spin has the poorest returns. In fact, so much that these have been the winning shots of 2022. 

Pickleball Spin Serve is no more!

Ladies and gentlemen, the fun is ended. You just have 2 months to play and enjoy the spin serves because the resulting committee has revealed the final statements, and it’s passed. Pickleball spin serve is banned and is illegal from January 1, 2023. Earlier that year, the chainsaw serve was forbidden, and now they’ve entirely eliminated the spin from the game. Per my analysis, the chainsaw spin ban led to the complete revival of spin from the game. 

Here’s the official rule statement and entry of the law. It’s in the rule ID 524 and is effective from Jan 1, 2023. It’s not official though. The board still has time till Oct 31st, 2022, and it holds the authority to amend it. However, there’s no chance of aunty otherwise news rather than the ban of the spin.

pickleball-rule-id-524-screenshot

There’s similar rule submission with the ID 369 under the title “One-handed pre-spin serves”, which argues that the musty must not spin at any cost. While  Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) have already banned it from their tournaments, One-handed pre-spin serve is still legal and players can serve the ball with a prior spin.

Rule no. 369 screenshot

However, it should be clear that 2-hand spin and manually adding the spin are banned. If the spin is coming from your paddle, you’re not responsible for it. But of course, keep your action legal. If the referee sense that you’re forcefully adding spin and blaming the paddle, then my dear, no one would stop you from getting charged. 

Why is pickleball spin serve banned?  

Pickleball spin serve gives more of a vibe of a cheat shot than an advanced shot. The spinners always have the benefit, and whenever the opponent is a spinner, it’s decided that he or she will win, which happens 99% time. The rest 1% is just miracles, and the non-spinner has some great luck and skill in handling the spins. 

For advanced athletes, mainly the ones with a tennis background, it’s, of course, the saddest news for you. Now you gotta practice for dink rallies and volleys to stay connected to the game without losing your ranking and natural style. However, it’s a good change for the legacy of the game and to keep it interesting and fun. 

Per my analysis and research, I don’t see any serious drawback in this rule change or something that could affect the game negatively. However, what I found offending was: “Only a limited number of players have mastered this, giving them an unfair advantage”.

This sentence puts the players’ credibility at stake, and it doesn’t happen in sports that I know in which something gets banned because others can’t do it. Of course, every player has different gaming styles and ways, and we can’t expect everyone to know and master everything. Other than that, everything is fine until it’s for the players’ comfort, the game’s origin, and fair gameplay.  

It’s a wrap!

Pickleball spin serve used to be one of the greatest ever shots. Now, it’s the end spin is ending, it can be both beneficial and saddening. For ex-tennis players, it’s kinda frightening how the game is only about consistent rallies. However, it can be balanced for the rest of the natural players. If you’re a spin player, it’s time you should practice some non-spin rallies to stay in the game. Otherwise, getting charged for faults over and over for your natural game is annoying. Whilst, there are still 2 months for the law to get enforced, make the most of it while you can.  

Until there’s no legal notice, happy spinning!

HARRY ANDERSON
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