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Can You Smash in Pickleball?

We can smash during a pickleball game, especially since it’s among the most powerful shots in the game, hit downward in the opponent’s section. It’s not easy for a competitor to defend a smash, which is an overhand hit in response to a high bounce, return or lob from an opponent. However, it’s not always OK to do it and we especially can’t smash when serving. 

A man in mixed doubles smashing in a pickleball tournament.

If you’re as fierce as I am, then it means you often capitalize on smashing the ball during a game of pickleball. After all, we want to get our opponents flustered and it adds spice to the game. But please do not randomly hit overhand and don’t attempt it on every shot.

Let’s look at smashing in pickleball; how to do it, when we can do it, and more.

Can You Smash in Pickleball?

Definitely! When playing pickleball, it’s clear that an overhand smash or strike has more oomph than an underhand one. A combination of speed, gravity, and brute force will allow you to easily dispose of your opponent.

If you read the pickleball rules, though, you’ll see that overhand hitting is permitted only under certain circumstances. So, what gives?

Except while serving, players in pickleball are allowed to hit with any hand. In pickleball, the only time you can’t use an overhand swing is while you’re serving. A service has to be underhand as well as hit the ball at or below the player’s waist to be legal.

Therefore, it is extremely difficult to serve overhand due to the stringent requirements for a legitimate service.

Pickleball’s Smash Shots are Used When the Player Has a Clear Advantage.

Woman smashing in a pickleball game.

While volleying forcefully, especially with a swinging volley, is possible with balls struck above the net, nothing beats the overhead. The ball’s height at impact is the sole determining element in this case. When the ball is up high, you can use your whole arm and wrist to generate downward force when you hit an overhead.

Every opportunity for a successful overhead shot is the consequence of a mistake on the part of the opponent, typically a very high or low lob too near the kitchen. Only at the point when the ball is at an adequate height for you to reach it with the middle of the paddle while extending your arm to its maximum length should you attempt an overhead hit.

When the ball is lower than that, you can volley it. Overheads on lower balls typically end up in the net.

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Recommended Ways to Hit a Smash in Pickleball

Woman in a mixed doubles smashing in a pickleball game.

Because it’s a forehand stroke, an overhead requires a forehand grip. The continental grip is preferred because it enables a more natural slicing motion of the paddle through the air than an accessible point of contact with the ball. For the correct continental grip, please refer to The Grip.

A defender can adjust his grip and get into position for an overhead shot if you hit a short lob with a little touch. As soon as a player realizes the shot is a lob, one should rotate their shoulders and move their body and feet out to the side. To avoid getting hit by the lobbed ball, the player can slide back into this sideways stance.

How do I Stay Safe When Hitting a Smash at Pickleball?

Men playing doubles in a pickleball tournament.

If you’re facing the net, you should never, ever go backward. Everyone, regardless of age or physical prowess, is susceptible to having their head hit the floor if they lose their equilibrium while leaning backward. All backcourt motions must be made on the sides of the court or with the player’s back to the basket.

If you lean to one side, your arms should rise above your head. Prepare the paddle by bending your elbow behind your head. Many coaches recommend directing the opposing arm toward the ball, with the index finger pointing in the direction of the ball.

This setup helps maintain stability and directs the player’s gaze over the shoulder opposite the paddle arm.

To hit the ball in front of your body, you need to place your swing properly. To increase the inertia of your shot, step forward with the foot that is opposite the paddle arm.

However, the swing itself will provide the majority of the force, rather than the body. The arm needs to be fully extended so that there is a lot of leverage.

Generating Power When Making a Pickleball Smash Hit

However, the snap of the wrist is still the primary source of power. A paddle hit at a perpendicular angle to the court will result in more solid contact with the ball.

The next step is to drive the ball down with a sharp pronation of the wrist. If the player didn’t pronate, the force of their swing would send the ball over the fence.

Unfortunately, the paddle is outside of the frame in the following photo, but it does illustrate the point of contact in front of the body. The foot that’s behind should be brought forward into the ready position, or to the starting position if you’re headed for the kitchen, then follow through across the body.

Which Area to Target When Hitting a Smash in Pickleball

Mixed doubles playing in a pickleball court.

Overhead shots require knowledge of the opponents’ locations to hit them. If they’re in the kitchen line or the area between the baselines and kitchen, shoot for their feet.

If the opponent is behind the baseline, you should shoot for a line 2 feet within the line, regardless of whether you’re shooting from the baseline or the sideline. Put yourself in an advantageous position in the middle of the court.

You can whack a pickleball with all your might, but by the time it bounces close to the baseline, the wiffleball’s mechanics have slowed it down. From that point, good players can earn returns on their investments.

A middle shot, however, causes a split second of indecision and draws both players toward the center of the court. This frees up space down the flanks for the following attack.

Be wary of a handful of overhead checkpoints as well. Regularly hitting the long ball indicates that the contact point is not sufficiently in front of the body. This swing produces more of a flat hit than a down hit.

Most of the time, a contact point that is too far in front of the net will result in a ball that is hit into the net.

There’s a downward slant to the blow, rather than a flat one. When playing outside in the wind, you should expect both of these things. The wind has a greater effect on lobs than on most shots since they’re both softer and higher.

For the sake of keeping the ball in play, players must be more discerning while using overheads when the wind is blowing.

Are Pickleball Overhead Smash Hits Forehand Only?

Man holding a paddle in a forehand grip.

Expenses are a topic that needs one more mention. Since overheads are taken with the forehand, it follows that the opposite hand is typically used to shoot. If you can’t get into the right forehand position, you can still hit an overhead with your backhand.

However, the shot is exceptionally challenging because pronating the wrist is not a normal motion. Instead of a wrist snap, I suggest going for a more forceful volley.

It’s no secret that an overhand topspin stroke in tennis can pack quite a punch. It’s the most potent stroke you can make when standing at the baseline. The same holds for the sport of pickleball.

A full-arm swing utilizes more muscles and permits greater application of force than an underhand hit.

Simply said, it’s a far more forceful attempt at offense. One is considered to be in an offensive stance in pickleball when using an overhand swing. However, you’re not to randomly hit overhand and shouldn’t attempt it on every shot.

How to Get the Most Out of My Serve When I Have to do it Underhand?

Mixed doubles competing in a pickleball tournament.

Because of the height at which we have to strike the ball, we have to look at how pickleball forbids overhand serving. The official rules forbid such a service because it is too forceful. When serving in a game of pickleball, keep these recommendations in mind:

  • The rule specifies an underhand serve. The paddle must go upward for a legal pickleball shot, which effectively eliminates overhand shots.
  • To be successful, you must use an underhand motion and have the ball and paddle make contact at or below the navel.
  • Find out the guidelines in advance.
  • Get the answer to the question of whether or not your service is legal before you enter a competition.
  • USAPA regulations are followed at all competitions. However, officials can have their interpretations, so feel free to inquire.
  • To avoid getting caught in the net, refrain from touching it. When serving, it is a fault to contact the net either before or after the service, the same as it is when serving underhand or overhand.

Following these guidelines will help you avoid facing a penalty while serving.