If my article topic/question is confusing to you, go to YouTube and type in “Morgan Evan’s serve” and watch people fall down, whiff, and get completely fooled by his pickleball serve. Now you’re ready to continue.
Pickleball seems to be changing at an expeditious rate. Each week, someone on tour is adding a new speed-up, a new way to defend, or a new shot we just don’t have a name for yet—thank god we already have the “Bert” :). With that being said, the latest trend is the spin serve. Guys (and girls) are trying to find ways to add spin to the serve that will make it jump one direction or another after it bounces. The jump or skip could alter your contact point to the original bounce location by 2 feet in some cases.
The first question is “why now”? My answer in short is “money”. As more money pours into the game via tv deals, sponsors, gambling, etc, everyone is training harder and devoting more time to their craft. Players are looking to add anything and everything to their game that will give them the slightest advantage over the competition. The serve has been a part of the game that has remained relatively stagnant over the years. Sure, players like McGuffin and others have good pace and topspin to their serves but nothing has been done consistently to earn “free” points…until now.
As I opened the article, Morgan Evans has completely changed the game. As a receiver, you think his serve is going to bounce one way and it can bounce 2 feet the opposite way. I lost count of how many aces he had at the APP Event in La Habra. Now, Ben Johns, Zane Navratil and countless others have started to master the crazy spins. People are getting aced and it’s not fun for them I’m sure!!!
So first of all, how are these players getting the ball to move in such crazy ways off the serve? It’s all about the spin that’s on the ball before they even make contact. Players like Morgan are snapping the ball in their non-serving hand and then hitting the serve as normal. Players like Ben and Zane are using their paddle hand (a few fingers on that hand) and the tossing hand to spin the ball first and then locate the ball properly to serve. Both ways are causing insane amounts of action on the ball and giving opponents a tough time.
So is this good for the game? I have a few thoughts on the matter. First, I think making the serve a weapon was a natural progression in the sport. Every other shot has evolved so the serve had to. That being said, I think what makes pickleball special is the idea that every point truly gets started and turns into a strategic chess game. Tennis is filled with aces and unreturned serves—I personally think that becomes boring to watch. My hope is that pickleball doesn’t get to a point where points aren’t being played because people are trying to get so many free points on their serve. I like the idea of new spins and techniques that add a new wrinkle to the game but I want the integrity of pickleball to remain. Gimmicky spins and tricks can give the sport a weird look and that’s not what I want for the growth of the game.