2024 PPA Pickleball Serve Rules Changes vs USAP Rules

Screenshot Credit: Enchance Pickleball
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) changed its serve rules for 2024, and many players were unhappy. Some even got confused because they didn’t see those changes in the 2024 USA Pickleball Official Rulebook.

It’s been over a month since both organizations updated their rules, and many YouTubers and players have already explained them. Once and for all, here are the new serve rules for the PPA Tour and the real score about it.

For Whom are the New PPA Serve Rules?

Before we continue, you should understand that the changes in the serve rule for PPA apply to professional players only and are temporary (in Beta). According to Pickleball.com, the new rules were tested during the PPA qualifying rounds in Palm Springs until the 2024 PPA Tour: Phoenix, AZ, held at the Desert Ridge Resort & Spa from January 31 to February 4. It means most of us are not affected by the changes.

PPA Serve Rules: Old vs New (Beta)

Although the new PPA serve rules might not concern you, it’s still important that you know how they work and the differences from the old rules.

Tossing the Serve

  • Old Rules: Pro players can toss the ball upwards and hit it to do the serve.
  • New Rules (Beta): Pro players should toss the ball below their waists, similar to a drop serve, except that the ball should not bounce on the ground.

Palm Position

  • Old Rules: Pro players can release the ball with palms facing upwards during the serve. 
  • New Rules (Beta): Pro players should release the ball with palms facing downwards. 

Ball Release Point

  • Old Rules: Pro players can release the ball above their bodies during the serve.
  • New Rules (Beta): Pro players should release the ball below their hip lines. Otherwise, it is a fault.

Implications of the New PPA Rules

As you may have noticed, the new serve rules for PPA prevent pro players from weaponizing the serve. Instead, the intention is to go back to its original purpose - to start a rally. This volley serve via palm face down shows that the player’s hand does not spin the ball before the serve. USA Pickleball also has banned this pre-spun serve since 2023.

Serve Rules: PPA Pro vs USAP

The main difference between the PPA and USAP (USA Pickleball) rules is to whom they apply. Again, the former is for professional tournaments only, while the latter is for amateur events and recreational plays. In terms of the serve rules, here are the differences:

PPA Pro Rules

  • Pro players should not do the drop serve. It’s not considered a fault, but the referee should stop the players and remind them to do a legal serve.
  • The ‘Let Serve’ rules apply. It means that if the served ball hits the pickleball net and lands on the correct service court, the server should do a replay.

USAP Rules

  • Drop serve is allowed as long as the ball as the player does not spin the ball before the serve.
  • The ‘Let Serve’ rules no longer apply. Therefore, a served ball hitting the net and lands ”in” is a live ball. For complete details, refer to our Pickleball Let Serve Rule Guide.

Note: In the USAP serve rules, there’s no mention of whether the player’s palm should be face up or down. In short, players can choose either of them.

Related Post: PPA Tour: How It Works, Rules, and Pros and Cons

Final Thoughts

Once again, the new PPA serve rules are not permanent and are for pro players only. If you are an amateur who joins tournaments or plays only for fun, you can follow the USAP rules.

To avoid confusion, I hope pickleball vloggers would clarify before explaining that these rules are only for PPA pro players. With that, below is a short video tutorial from Enhance Pickleball.

Edit (Feb 13, 2024): For clarification purposes, I added "except that the ball should not bounce on the ground" in the last part of New Rules (Beta) in the Tossing the Serve part. 

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2 months ago

So is a bounce serve still allowed or only a drop serve? Are both/either allowed?

2 months ago
Reply to  Angel Cuala

You’re contradicting yourself. Reread your comment.

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