Pickleball is a fast-paced racket sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Can you hit overhand in pickleball? The overhand smash is one of the pickleball’s most exciting and aggressive shots. Well-executed overhead smashes can win matches. However, you must fully understand the rules around overhand hitting to avoid faults and play legally. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how you can hit overhand in pickleball.

Slamming smashes, and lobs in Pickleball

Overhand shots pack significantly more power than underhand strokes. You can utilize gravity, momentum, and full-body muscle torque by swinging up and overhead to hammer the ball with force. When appropriately executed, overhand smashes and lobs are some of the most electrifying shots in pickleball. They allow aggressive players to seize control of points.

However, you must do more than unleash overhand shots randomly. Only use overhead hitting in appropriate situations based on positioning, ball height, and pickleball rules. Indiscriminate overhand hitting will lead to easy outs and faults. Master both overhand smashes and controlled lobs to expand your repertoire.

slamming smashes and lobs in pickleball

Info Table

Nature of Overhand Shots
Powerful, and aggressive; utilize gravity, momentum, and muscle torque.
Usage in Play
Use after the serve, against high lobs, for topspin drives, and controlled lobs.
Execution of Smashes
Effective after a serve return, against weak returns, and defensive high lobs.
Defensive Lobs
Useful for hitting over aggressive net players.
Serving Rules
Must be underhand, contacting the ball below waist level. Overhand serves are prohibited.
Technique for Smashes
Load lower body, loose grip, level paddle.
Lob Shot Technique
Use a combo grip, brush the ball with an angled paddle face, high toss, and follow through above the shoulder.

Crushing your competition with overheads

Now let’s explore when you can legally unleash your overhand power shots during Pickleball USA rallies and games:

Smash winners after the serve

You are free to hit overhand once the ball is in play after a serve. So if your opponent serves and you manage to return the ball, you can then look to smash on your next shot aggressively. Overhead hits are instrumental if your opponent hits a weak return that bounces high. Turn their mistake into an easy putaway smash.

Pulverize high lobs

One of the best times to crush an overhand smash is when your opponent hits a defensive lob. If they are stuck back near the baseline and lob a ball high over your head, you have time to get under the ball and go on the attack. Move quickly to get your feet set, then unwind upward into a commanding smash. Aim down the line or crosscourt to hit a winner.

Slam topspin drives

When you have time to set up near the baseline, you can generate devastating power on overhand forehand topspin drives. Wind up with your torso and unleash topspin shots with full extension. These aggressive drives can force weak returns from your opponent.

Lob over their heads

Remember that you can also hit controlled overhand lobs defensively when pulled up to the net. Hit arched lobs over aggressive net players to reclaim control of the point from the baseline.

Serving up spins in Pickleball

Now, onto the serve, where overhand shots are prohibited. Can You Play Pickleball On Grass and incorporate spin serves in Pickleball? Here are critical serving rules and guidelines:

Keep serves underhand

By rule, you must use an underhand serve in pickleball, contacting the ball below waist level. Underhand serves are much easier to control and less likely to go out of bounds than overheads. So, no jump serves or cannonball overhand serves!

Don’t net the rules

Before tournaments or competitive play, carefully review the specific pickleball rules for your event. Some organized tournaments allow overhand serves if clearly specified and agreed upon beforehand. But underhand serves are still the norm in most recreational play.

Underhand with finesse

Although you cannot hit jump serves, skilled players can still hit very effective underhand serves. Work on placement, spin, and consistency. Accurate underhand serves will earn you quick points while keeping games fun for all abilities.

serving up spins in pickleball

Mastering overhead smash technique in Pickleball

Raw power is only part of the equation. It would help if you had proper technique to maximize control and consistency on your overhand pickleball shots:

Load your lower body

Generating power starts from the ground up. Crouch down and load your hips, knees, and ankles before uncoiling upwards. It builds momentum and tension to transfer into the ball.

Loose grip on Paddle

Hold your paddle lightly to allow your wrist to snap and extend entirely through the hit. It will enable last-second adjustments and complete power transfer.

Level paddle Properly

Keep your paddle face vertical and perpendicular to the court on contact. It drives the ball downwards instead of spraying it.

mastering overhead smash technique in pickleball

Lob shot technique in Pickleball

For controlled overhand lobs:

Combo grip

Use a finger-wrapped grip with your index finger pointed down the paddle face. It supports finer shot adjustments.

Brush the ball

Caress the ball with an angled paddle face and level, smooth swing path for an arcing trajectory. Don’t break your wrists.

High toss

Toss the ball high with plenty of air to let it sit up for easy, controlled contact. Don’t lob low, hard-to-reach balls.

Follow through high

Continue your swing high above your shoulder, brushing up the back of the ball. It imparts topspin for better control.


Learning to hit commanding overhand shots will make you a dangerous pickleball player. But intelligent players blend underhand and overhand shots depending on positioning, ball height, score, and more. Stick to underhand shots up at the net and unleash your overhand from the baseline when opportunities arise. With practice, your overhead smashes and lobs will soon terrorize opponents across the court!

can you hit overhand in pickleball


Is an overhand serve allowed in pickleball?

No, overhand serves are not permitted in pickleball. All serves must be made underhand with the paddle moving upwards and contacting the ball below waist level.

When can you legally hit an overhand shot in pickleball?

You can hit overhand during a rally after the serve once the ball has bounced. You can also hit overhand when returning a lob or near the baseline setting up for a groundstroke.

What is the benefit of hitting overhand in pickleball?

Overhand shots allow you to hit with more power and pace using gravity and full-body momentum. They are aggressive shots used to attack, return high lobs, or put away weaker shots. Overhand hits have more control and spin potential versus underhand strokes.

What are some standard overhand shots in pickleball?

The overhead smash is the most aggressive overhand as you swing full power down on the ball. Controlled lobs are also hit overhand, arcing the ball high over opponents. Overhand forehand topspin drives are used for shots from the baseline. Overheads require proper timing and technique for best results.

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