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Two Keys to Better Overhead Smashes in Pickleball

by The Dink Media Team on

Can I be honest? Are we in the trust circle here? Ok: I whiffed on an overhead smash...again.

I finally made it to the court this week for the first time in...checks calendar...way too long. Let me tell ya, pickleball rust is a real thing. Reaction time decays and the feel for drops and resets suffers.

But what really felt foreign were overhead shots. On my first one of the day, I looked like a total noob and whiffed it.

Yikes, can we get this guy a little unsolicited advice?

Here it is: When you're moving back to field an overhead, take one extra step.

That's it. That's the whole piece of advice. It's that simple.

Don't just retreat to the point where you can barely reach the ball. Take one more step to position your body behind the ball.

This way, when you swing, you're able to step through the overhead.

This helps in three ways:

Moving through the overhead leaves you better positioned for the next ball

  • The ability to better leverage your leg strength and forward momentum means more power in the shot
  • A contact point in front of the body allows for more control and increased accuracy, versus making contact while falling away

My mistake is that I was lazy and refused to take the extra step. I tried to jump backwards to reach the descending lob.

It might have been the wind, the sun, or a dwindling sense of athleticism that ultimately was my downfall (man I was a great high school athlete).

But the whole embarrassment could've been avoided by taking an extra step, getting behind the ball, and launching forward through the overhead.

Learn from my mistake, use good form, and go crush some overheads.

Go ahead, throw your paddle

It's alright, we won't tell on you…Okay, don't actually throw your paddle. But you need to have that motion down for this tip.

The most powerful overheads and put-aways come from a throwing motion. It takes a loose arm and a lot of whip.

The key is to create a lag in motion with your paddle:

  • Your shoulder and elbow rotate forward first and your paddle should trail behind.
  • Your paddle will accelerate toward the ball faster because of the muscle tension created in the lag.
  • Right before contact, snap your wrist forward like you're throwing a baseball.

It should feel like you're throwing your paddle at the ball. Or better yet, through the ball.

This acceleration of the paddle is what sends the ball rocketing off pros’ paddles and turns your put-away attempts into put-away winners.

Do yourself a favor and try crushing a few overheads with this throwing motion in mind. Just have your drill partner wear a helmet in case your palm gets too sweaty.

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