The latest revisions (2023) of the United States Pickleball Association (USPA) have demarcated the difference in regulations of the two commonly used types of serves in Pickleball. These two servers are the volley serve and drop serve.
A volley serve is when players hit the ball during the serve without dropping it on the surface. While making a volley serve, players are not allowed to impart any rotation on the ball with the paddle. Either a forehand or backhand motion can be used to perform the volley serve.
The highest portion of the paddle when the ball makes contact with it must not be above the wrist holding the paddle. The direction of the serve must follow an upward arc. Additionally, when the ball makes contact with the paddle, it must be below the waist of the server.
A drop serve is when the player serves after bouncing the ball off the surface. There are no restrictions on how many times can the ball bounce before the drop serve. The serve can be performed with either a forehand or a backhand motion.
The server can drop the ball only with one hand and the height from which it is dropped should be unaided. Throwing the ball downwards is not allowed.
A few serving rules are common to both the volley serve and the drop serve. During the serve, the player must stand behind the baseline. Furthermore, when the player is about to serve, the release of the ball must be visible to the receiver. A player can perform both the volley serve or drop serve in a match. There is no rule stating that only one type of serve can be used in a match.
Both drop and volley serves can be effective depending on the player’s style of play and the opponent’s receiving patterns.