Overhead Smash: The What, Why, and How

June 8, 2018

Picture of DJ Howard in a white GAMMA Pickleball shirt at the US Open getting into position for an overhead smash shot.

We recently covered the topic of the lob shot and discussed the basics of what the shot is, why some players use it, and how to perfect it. That being said, we wanted to build off of that subject and cover the what, why, and how of the overhead smash shot.

So, without further ado, grab your pickleball paddle and let’s get to it!

What is the overhead smash?

Dubbed as one of the most aggressive shots in pickleball, the overhead smash is an offensive shot that’s carried out by hitting the ball with force when it’s high in the air and towards the feet of your opponent.

Why use the overhead smash?

Typically, the overhead smash is used as a return of an opponent’s lob shot. Generally speaking, this shot is applicable when your opponent makes a mistake. You only want to deploy the overhead smash when you know that the ball will make contact with the sweet spot on your paddle. This means that it should only be used when the ball is high enough over your head that you can reach it with a full arm extension. Otherwise, focus on your footwork in order to get back into position and return the lob to your opponent.

How to do the overhead smash.

Now that we’ve covered the what and the whylet’s focus on the how. So, how do you correctly carry out the overhead smash? Let’s run through a quick checklist.

  • Extend your paddle over your head at full extension so that your arm and elbow are straight.
  • Look for opportunities to either find an open spot on your opponent’s court or aim for their feet, not the body.
  • Pay attention to your footwork. Backpedaling to carry out an overhead smash not only could be dangerous, but it could also set you up for failure. Instead, shuffle sideways or simply turn around and run to the spot of the ball.
  • Once you’re in position, make sure that the ball is in front of you and as high as possible before making contact. From there, shift your weight from your back foot forward to your front foot as you make contact with the ball with a downward trajectory. To do so, make sure that your wrist flicks down upon contact with your paddle and the ball.

Just like with any pickleball shot, the success of your overhead smash is contingent on your accuracy so gaining a deeper understanding of when to utilize this shot during a match is going to help you make better judgment calls and in turn stay alive or win the point.

Before you go, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter below.