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Pickleball Tips: Overheads
One of the best feelings on the pickleball court is crushing an overhead shot for a winner. If you miss it, though, that can be one of the worst feelings—missing an easy winner. Let’s help you avoid those bad feelings and hit the winner.
When a pickleball is sent up into the air—whether intentionally by your opponents with a lob, or unintentionally with a bad shot—you have two options: (1) try to take the pickleball out of the air with an overhead; or (2) let the pickleball bounce and hit the pickleball off the bounce. Typically, you want to keep the pressure on your opponents and hit the pickleball out of the air.
So, to crush the overhead:
1. Immediately rotate your body sideways to avoid backpedaling (which can be dangerous on the pickleball court);
2. Move your feet—by moving sideways and not backpedaling—to make sure you are positioned to hit the pickleball out in front of your body;
3. Raise your paddle up by your ear with your paddle laid back and elbow up, and point your non-paddle hand at the pickleball out in front of your body. To note, this is important to help guide where you will make contact with the pickleball and can also help block the sun on sunny days;
4. Bring your paddle square to meet the pickleball out in front of your body with full-arm extension (if you are right- handed, think about hitting at 1 o’clock (imagining a clock is in front of you); if you are left-handed, think about hitting at 11 o’clock (imagining a clock is in front of you)). Also, to note, it is important to accelerate up to the point of contact, rather than accelerating down after contact; and
5. Finish your overhead by following through the pickleball down and slightly across your body.
Also, be cognizant of your paddle angle. Your paddle angle will dictate where the pickleball will go. Be sure that your paddle angle is down into your opponents’ side of the pickleball court, so as not to sail the pickleball out of bounds, but also not so far down that you hit the pickleball straight into the net.
To note, one reason your paddle angle could be down into the pickleball net is that could be collapsing your top half, or dropping your head or eyes, at contact. Avoid collapsing your top half and dropping your head or eyes at contact.
Lastly, consider adding angles to your overhead that take the pickleball off the court to the left or the right in order to make a more difficult return for your opponents. A strong overhead—especially a strong overhead with angles—will certainly discourage any lobs against you.
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