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The Overhead Smash (VIDEO)

Updated: Feb 4

The overhead smash in pickleball is a powerful and aggressive shot that players use to finish a point decisively. It is typically executed when the ball is high and within reach, providing an opportunity for the player to strike the ball forcefully downward into the opponent's court. Here's more information about the overhead smash in pickleball:

the overhead smash

Purpose:

  • The primary purpose of the overhead smash is to end the point by delivering a powerful and difficult-to-return shot. It's an offensive weapon used to capitalize on opportunities when the ball is high and can be attacked.

Timing:

  • Timing is crucial for the overhead smash. Players wait for the ball to reach an optimal height before making contact. The ideal contact point is generally above the player's head, allowing for a downward trajectory.

Grip:

  • Players typically use an Eastern or Continental grip for the overhead smash. These grips provide the control and power needed to execute the shot effectively.

Footwork:

  • Proper footwork is essential for positioning and balance when preparing for an overhead smash. Players should position themselves under the ball and use a split step to be ready to move quickly.

Preparation:

  • Players should use a unit turn, rotating their shoulders and hips, to prepare for the overhead smash. This winding motion helps generate power for the shot.

Swing Path:

  • The swing path of the overhead smash is usually straight and downward. Players aim to make clean contact with the ball and direct it with force into the opponent's court.

Placement:

  • While power is a key element of the overhead smash, placement is equally important. Players aim to target open spaces or exploit weaknesses in the opponent's positioning.

Counter to Lobs:

  • The overhead smash is often used as a counter to lobs. When opponents send a high, floating shot over the net, players can capitalize on the opportunity by smashing the ball downward.

Risk and Reward:

  • The overhead smash is a low-risk, high-reward shot. While it can be a game-winning shot, mistiming or misjudging the height of the ball can result in errors.

Effective Communication in Doubles:

  • In doubles play, communication between partners is crucial when deciding who will take the overhead smash. Clear communication helps avoid confusion and ensures that the best-positioned player takes the shot.

Legalities:

  • Players must be mindful of the NVZ/Kitchen when executing the overhead smash. Stepping into the NVZ/Kitchen while hitting the ball or falling into the NVZ/Kitchen after contact is made with the ball is considered a fault.

Variations:

  • Some players use spin variations on the overhead smash, incorporating topspin or slice to add different trajectories to the shot.

Practice:

  • Practice is essential for developing a consistent and effective overhead smash. Players often work on their timing, footwork, and swing mechanics to improve this powerful shot.


In summary, the overhead smash is a dynamic and exciting shot that requires a combination of timing, power, and precision. It is a go-to option for players looking to seize control of the point and finish rallies decisively.


The most important things to do while using the overhead smash:

  • Hit overhead smashes over the net and into the opponent's court (never miss it into the net)

  • Aim overhead smashes low and at the feet of opponents 

  • Angle overhead smashes away from opponents so the ball carries off the court

  • Add spin to make it more difficult for opponents to handle

  • Communicate with your partner to know who is taking the overhead smash


Are you interested in learning more about this pickleball shot? Or taking lessons to help you improve + master it? Click the link below to schedule time for your personalized lesson with our certified pickleball instructors! 


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