The Complete Guide to Racquetball Serves: Drive and Lob Serves
Whether you’ve been playing racquetball for a while or if you’re brand new to the sport, the importance of the serve never changes.
In general, racquetball serves can be broken down into two categories, drives and lobs. Each is hit with different power levels and at specific heights.
Some think that lob serves are more of a defensive maneuver with the drive serve being an offensive move, but the fact of the matter is that you have the potential to win a rally and score a point using either serve.
It’s best to use a mix of the two kinds of serves to keep your opponent on their toes and to have a varied game. Using both will also help you discover your opponent’s weakness as some people are better at handling drives while others prefer lobs.
There are different types of drive serves and lob serves that you can choose from to vary your game even more.
The different kinds of racquetball serves are differentiated and explained so that you can try them all out and see which ones you like the best.
So let’s get down to business
As stated earlier, drive serves are meant to be hit with some power. You should hit the ball as hard as you can and aim the ball low to the floor. Make sure that you don’t hit the ball passed the serve line otherwise you’ll fault. When you get more comfortable with drive serves you can experiment by changing your position on the court, trying out different serve heights, changing the angle of your racquet, and trying different speeds. This will allow you to do more on the court to keep your opponent guessing. Here are the different types of drive serves:
Straight drive serve: this is a drive serve from the middle of the court. The goal is to hit the ball in front of you to have is zip right passed you after it bounces off the front wall. This is an effective serve since you’re essentially blocking your opponent’s view of the ball until it comes past you. This gives them less time to get into a good position for a decent return. The only thing to look out for is to make sure that the ball doesn’t get too close to you as it passes otherwise it’s considered a screen violation.
- Pass court drive serve: this is a drive serve where you hit the ball so that it comes back in front of you and goes toward the corner of the court on your dominant side (a right corner for right-handed people, for example). This serve is a fine option if your opponent’s dominant side is your opposite, but if you’re both right-handed, for example, this serve can be returned easily with a forehand stroke. This is why most people prefer a cross-court drive serve to this one.
- Cross court drive: this is a drive serve that uses the same premise as the pass court drive serve. The difference here, however, is that the ball will pass behind you instead of in front of you. When this happens the ball will go to the opposite corner (a left corner for right-handed people). This will force your opponent to use their backhand stroke for their return which will usually end up producing a weaker return. This gives you an advantage in the rally.
- Z-ball drive serve (Killer): this is a drive serve where you’ll hit the ball so that it hits the front wall then the side wall before bouncing on the floor once and heading to the opposite corner of the court. This essentially creates a Z path. Hitting the two walls can make the ball spin which will make it harder to hit due to the unpredictable movement. While it’s quite effective, it’s also tricky to do properly so it’s a serve best left to more experienced players.
- Crack drive serve: this is a drive serve that is mostly used by advanced players as it’s hard to properly execute. In fact, it’s rarely done purposefully. Instead, most players end up hitting this serve accidentally. This particular drive serve happens when the ball hits a spot between the side of the wall and the ground before rolling off.
Each of these drive serves has its purpose and produces unique results. Some are easier than others, but they’re all worth learning and trying out for you. The more you practice them, the more comfortable you’ll be on the court.
Again, lob serves are serves with little power behind them. They are hit higher than drive serves and are meant to bounce high and head toward the corner of the court. There is less of a chance to fault on a lob serve but a poorly hit lob serve can set your opponent up for a simple return. This will put you on defense instead of offense, and you’ll lose any advantage you had going into the serve. For this reason, it’s essential that you practice these serves so you can properly execute them. As with drive serves there are different lob serves that you can try out. These lob serves are:
- High lob serve: this is a lob serve where you want to hit the ball so that it passes the fault line but also bounces close to that line. This will make the ball arc high in the air and fly into one of the corners of the court.
- Half lob serve: this is a lob serve that is considered to be the middle ground between a lob and a drive serve. Here, you want to hit the ball so that it bounces as close as possible to the corner on its first bounce.
- High lob nick serve: this is a lob serve that is considered to be like a z-ball drive serve. Here, the ball will hit the sidewall near the corner and then bounce on the floor
Each lob serve will allow you to experiment with different positioning, speeds, and angles. You’ll see what you’re comfortable with and you’ll also see what your opponents have problems with. The more you play the more comfortable you’ll get with lob serves. You’ll see that they’re more effective than most people think.
When playing racquetball, sticking to one or two serves won’t do you any good. Vary your game using different serves, and you’ll have more of a chance of finding weaknesses in your opponent’s game. If you hit the same serves all the time, your opponent will know what to expect and will start to anticipate your gameplay. This will allow them to prepare for easy returns that will put you on the defensive and take away any advantages you had. Practice each of these serves and consider looking at videos of them for further help.