Padel serve: 12 tips for a better serve technique & tactics [Video]

padel serve

Want to improve your padel serve or learn how it should be done? Then you’re in the right place. The serve is not only a game starter, it can of course be one of your best weapons if you learn the right technique and tactics.

In this article, we’ll go over the following:

  • Rules of serving in padel
  • 8 concrete tips on how to make a better padel serve
  • 4 tips on how to think when receiving the serve
  • Techniques to use and avoid



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How to set up before the serve

The serve in padel is extremely important. Maybe not to the same degree as in tennis, for example, but there is a lot more strategy behind a good serve than you might think. Unlike tennis, a serve is not your main goal in most cases, it’s about getting as good a starting position as possible to win the point.

Standard set-up

A standard serve setup is what you might call a classic tennis setup. The server always continues to play on the same side as the serve took place, and the partner thus changes places at the front of the net on each serve. This is rarely seen at the top level.

Australian set-up

In the Australian set-up, which is by far the most common, the player stays on the same side regardless of where the serve takes place.

How to achieve a padel serve

Below we’ll walk you through how to complete a serve in padel through 5 steps:

  1. The player starts by standing with both feet behind the service line, without touching it, and must not cross the line until the ball is served. The first serve is made to the left of the server and then continues alternately until the game is decided.

  2. The ball must bounce within the server’s box where the player is before the serve is struck. 

  3. The ball must be hit at waist height or lower, and the player must have at least one foot on the floor.

  4. When serving, the ball must pass diagonally across the net and bounce into the opponent’s service box.

  5. If the first serve is incorrect, the server has a second attempt.

Tips to improve your padel serve

Below are our top 5 tips on how to improve your serve and score more points.

Tip 1: Straight & deep

The pros at the WPT tend to serve deep and straight to the opponent. The advantage of this is that you reduce your opponent’s options and the return is most likely to be a low ball to the middle or a lob.

Tip 2: Spin & placement

Focus more on placement and spin than power when serving.

Tip 3: Vary between static & dynamic or master one

You can use two types of serve – static or dynamic. In a static serve you stand still with both feet, while in a dynamic serve you step forward while hitting the ball. Try it out to see which one suits you and your style of play best.

Tip 4: Try to develop with every serve

See each serve as a chance to learn something. How can you reduce the options available to your opponent, and how can you take advantage of them.

Tip 5: Get out there and take over the net

  1. Get to the net as quickly as you can after hitting the ball to keep the upper hand on your opponent.

Tip 6: Vary the speed

It’s important to vary the speed of your serve; your main weapon is to be unpredictable. Alternate harder serves where you see if your opponent can handle the walls and softer but well-placed serves with impact. Also, vary the placement and the spinon the ball to see how your opponent reacts to the different variations. Pay attention to whether your opponent is making inferior returns on the forehand side or backhand side, and exploit their weaknesses.

Tip 7: Topspin vs Backspin

The bounce from a backspin serve is much lower than a straight shot, often forcing your opponent to lob or at least lift the return a bit, putting you in a good position to dominate the point.

When you serve with a backspin, it automatically becomes a softer shot, giving your opponent more time to get right to the ball. 

If you are playing against an opponent who is not very experienced and has difficulty reading the walls, you can win a lot of points with topspin.

Topspin is not a good option for a player who is not very quick on their feet, as it results in a faster serve and therefore less time to get back to your spot. It also makes the serve bounce higher off both the ground and the wall, and a good opponent can use this to their advantage.

Tip 8: Choose the right padel racket for you

The best racket choice for improving your game and honing in on your technique is one that has a good sweetspot (ideal hitting area) to give you a wider margin of error. That way you won’t lose control when the ball meets the racket, even if it’s further out towards the frame. Round rackets tend to have the largest sweetspot, making them very suitable for the beginning of your padel career. 

Please visit our guide to the best padel racket for different levels and styles of play.

A soft core is also a big plus, as it gives you better control while helping you get speed on slower balls. In addition, it absorbs the vibrations that occur when hitting the ball very well, so you get maximum feel and can place the ball where you want it easier. A softer racket is also much gentler, helping to prevent common injuries such as padel elbow.

What to avoid when serving

When serving on your own diagonal, avoid standing too close to the center line. This is because you will cover much more ground if you stand in the middle of the serving box and then move diagonally forward. However, if you are serving on your partner’s diagonal, you should avoid standing too centrally, as this will make it more difficult for you to get back to your position in time.

Even if you have found a type of serve that works well for you, you must dare to vary, even if it means that you will occasionally fail. A predictable server will find it difficult to win a match, and you won’t be able to raise your level without variation.

Things to avoid when your opponent is serving to you

Servereturen är en lika viktig del av matchen som själva serven, du behöver bemästra bra returer för att få till break som sedan kan låta dig vinna matchen.

  1. The serve return is as important a part of the match as the serve itself, you need to master good returns to get to breaks that can then allow you to win the match.

  2. Stand too far back rather than too far forward, the more time you have to get right to the ball the better.

  3. Avoid getting too close to the sidewall. This is very common in the beginning, to make sure you can reach the ball before it bounces off the sidewall. The problem is that then the opponent might place his serve towards the center line instead, and you’ll be in trouble.

  4. Your serve return should always go towards the player who served, simply because they are on the move and are more likely to make mistakes. Avoid the player who is already ready in his position.

  5. Avoid returning at waist height as much as possible, as this will put your opponent in too comfortable a position. Balls at head height and close to the body are much more difficult to make winning shots from.

Learn more about padel

In our “Padel School” series of articles, we help you become a better padel player. Below are some of the articles we recommend you read next:

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