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How New Rules Affect Your Spin Serves

by Shea Underwood

Unless you’re a professional pickleball player on the PPA Tour, you still have time to add a spin serve to your arsenal of pickleball weapons for 2022. @ppatour announced on Instagram that they would not be allowing spin serves on the pro tour in the upcoming year. For better or for worse, this ruling does not apply to any other pickleball games other than those played on the pro tour.  

Each year, the official USA Pickleball rulebook undergoes a revision process where new rules are added, and old rules are amended. In 2022 we’re saying goodbye to the two-handed spin-serve (AKA the  ‘Chainsaw’) and ushering in some new guidelines for one-handed spin serves.

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Here is the new rule for volley serves in 2022 (Rule 4.A.5):  

“The server shall use only one hand to release the ball to perform the serve. If the ball is visibly spun by the server during the release, the part(s) of the hand contacting the ball must be bare. The server’s release of the ball must be visible to the referee and the receiver. In matches without a referee, the server’s release of the ball must be visible to the receiver. A replay shall be called before the return of serve if the release of the ball is not visible or if the referee (or receiver in non officiated matches) cannot discern whether an item on the hand contacted a visibly spun ball. Exception: A player who has the use of only one hand may use their hand or paddle to release the ball to perform the serve.”

Since only one hand can be used to release the ball, chainsaw serves are no longer going to be allowed. You still have some options though! I created a one-handed spin serve technique back in September and  made a tutorial which can be found here

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If you’re going to employ this technique though it’s crucial that you understand a couple of things.

1: You are not allowed to use a band-aid or any other material on the fingers that impart the spin. 

It’s totally fine to wear gloves or other materials on your hand during pickleball games, but if you are wearing one then you won’t be able to legally use a spin serve. Theoretically, you could cut out the part of the gloves where your fingers are contacting the ball but that seems a little unreasonable. 

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2: The release of the ball must be clearly visible to your opponents and referee.  

You are not allowed to use your body, paddle, partner, or any other means of shielding the release of the ball from your opponent. If you try to hide the spin on the ball, then a replay of the point can be called. If the release of the ball is visible but you can’t figure out which way it is spinning, then that’s legal and a replay is not allowed to be called. With that in mind, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to return a spin serve.


Finally, below is a resource on YouTube that discusses these changes in a bit more detail and will also link you to other videos where you can learn how to perfect your spin serves and return them when used against you. 

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WRITTEN BY DINK CONTRIBUTOR SHEA UNDERWOOD

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