The “Chainsaw” serve, pioneered by professional pickleball athlete and innovator Zane Navratil, shook up the sport of pickleball in 2021. Many observers believe it is detrimental to the sport or not in keeping with the spirit of the no-touch rules introduced at the onset of the COVID-19 age. Some predict Zane’s serve will be outlawed within the next few months. (The proposed USA Pickleball rule revisions addressing the controversy are here. Zane’s crowdsourced serve study, published last week, is here.)
Pickleballer and YouTuber Shea Underwood is thinking ahead. Having mastered the Chainsaw earlier this year, he has now developed a new serve inspired by pickleball pro Morgan Evans’ original wicked one-handed serve, as well as spin-savvy cricket players. We’ll call this new innovation the “Underwood.” From what we’ve seen, it appears to be just as effective as the Chainsaw, if not more so. More importantly, the Underwood is executed without using the non-serving hand or paddle to impart spin on the ball. That is crucial because it means the Underwood is unlikely (or at least less likely) to be banned.
It appears it is possible to impart more spin with the Underwood than with the Chainsaw. Underwood demonstrates this by measuring revolutions achieved using each of the two approaches when the ball is spun into the air. He says the ball revolves about 20 percent faster using the Underwood than the Chainsaw.
The Underwood differs from Morgan Evans’ serve in one key respect: Evans uses his thumb and finger to spin the ball, whereas Underwood apparently uses his fingers only. According to Underwood, this makes it easier for the server to spin the ball toward himself.
We at Dinkheads will be trying to learn the Underwood in the coming weeks. How about you?
Exit question: Will the Powers That Be allow this creative take…or will the party poopers declare their sanctioned tournaments to be complete No-Spin Zones?