Fixing Serve Errors and Placing Serves


It’s hard to win paddle matches when you start missing your serve. Overthinking it just makes things worse. Here are single focus points for common serve errors.

Missing the Serve in the Net

Focus on 1) Keeping your tossing arm up  2) Aiming out long

Explanation  We often miss the serve into the net because our toss is too far out in front of us or we tip over. Keeping your tossing arm up longer can keep us upright. A visual trick is to actually aim out long, which can correct the tipping over as well.

Missing the Serve Out Long

Focus on 1) Relaxing your grip  2) Putting more spin on the ball

Explanation  Relaxing your grip will help you either get more spin or have a softer contact point if you are a flat server. If you hit your serve with spin, try turning the grip over slightly for even more spin.

Missing the Serve Out Wide

Focus on Aiming closer to the middle of the box 

Explanation   Hit the ball a few boards in, instead of trying for the service box lines. Eventually, you’ll get a better feel of how much you can push that envelope, but in is always better than out.

Pro Tip  When practicing a serve, take a few steps in behind the ball to simulate running to the net.


Where you serve determines where they can return. While every now and then your opponent shanks a winning return to an angle you can't quite believe, for the most part, where you serve determines where your opponent can return. 


  • The return can only go toward the middle or toward the server (see Graphic 1). 

  • The net player doesn’t have to cover their alley quite as much and can be slightly closer to the middle.

  • If you are poaching, this is usually a better serve to do it on.

Wide Serve

  • The returner has a much wider range of spots they can return to (see Graphic 2).

  • The net player has to cover their alley a bit more. 

  • The server may run up slightly wider.

It’s good to know what your opponents’ options are on the return so you can make slight adjustments in positioning, but you should still choose where to serve based on what serve you can get in and what is making your opponent uncomfortable.

Pro Tip  If you serve down the T in I-Formation, the chances of the return being hit to the net player are higher.

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