Is the chainsaw serve legal in pickleball?

Pickleball is a paddle sport that has laws for the ideal serve. A Pickleball serve is hit underarm. The contact of the paddle with the whiffle ball must take place below the waist level. The ball must travel cross court and bounce once on the service box of the returner.

A type of serve in Pickleball is called the chainsaw serve. A chainsaw serve is named so because the player generates spin on the ball by brushing their paddle against the ball while serving. This leads to the ball spinning intensely after pitching, making it difficult to return. The direction of the ball after pitching sends the player outside the court. It is similar to the kick serve in tennis. This serve was popularised by Morgan Evans and Zane Navratil. The chainsaw serve was considered legal, until the USA Pickleball banned it in 2022.

The chainsaw serve was highly popular and continues to be used in local communities and amateur level despite the ban. The reason for the ban on chainsaw serve lies in the basic premise of Pickleball as a professional sport. While it does draw inspiration from tennis, table tennis and badminton, Pickleball’s characteristics are quite different.

Just like the non-volley zone, a regular serve is intended to ensure extended rallies in the game. This is not the case in sports like tennis or table tennis where the laws allow the player to win points solely on serve (also called an ace).
Since a chainsaw serve allowed players to win easy points on their serve, it shook the motive of the sport’s principles, leading to its ban.

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