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How to Hit the Most Difficult Shot in Pickleball: The High Backhand

News Stacie Townsend 09-18-2023

The high backhand shot in pickleball is often considered one of the most difficult shots because it requires a combination of skill, technique, and timing to execute properly. It is a challenging shot on the pickleball court because:

  • Limited Reach: The high backhand shot usually requires players to reach high above their heads, which can be physically demanding and challenging, especially for those with less mobility or strength. Plus, you typically have less reach on your backhand side (as compared to your forehand side), as you have to stretch across your body.
  • Timing: Properly timing the shot to make contact with the ball at its highest point is crucial (and difficult to do). Mistiming can result in a weak shot or misdirection.
  • Control: Hitting a high backhand on the pickleball court accurately and with control can be tricky, as the pickleball paddle needs to be maneuvered in a way that prevents overhitting or sending the ball out of bounds. Control can be challenging because you generally have less opportunities to practice this shot, as a high backhand is a less common shot on the pickleball court (as you would typically hit a forehand).

How to Hit the Most Difficult Shot in Pickleball: The High Backhan

Before jumping into a few pickleball tips on how to make the most of the high backhand on the pickleball court, it is important to note that you typically want to hit a forehand overhead, when possible. In other words, if you have enough time, you should move your feet to set yourself up for a more powerful shot in the forehand overhead. But, this is not always the case. Sometimes, you are forced to hit a high backhand. When this happens, try the following to make the most of this difficult shot on the pickleball court:

  • Footwork and Positioning:
    • Proper footwork and positioning are essential for hitting high backhands. Anticipate the shot early and move your feet to get into the best possible position under the ball. 
    • Move your feet as necessary to get into the right position with the pickleball out in front of your body. Do not backpedal. Rather, drop step and then side step, as necessary.
  • Paddle Preparation:
    • Raise your pickleball paddle up high near your non-paddle side ear.
    • Tilt the paddle face upward toward the sky to create the necessary angle for the shot.

How to Hit the Most Difficult Shot in Pickleball: The High Backhand

  • Swing and Contact Point:
    • Swing your pickleball paddle forward in a controlled manner.
    • Aim to make contact with the pickleball out in front of your body.
    • Accelerate up to the point of contact with your pickleball paddle.
    • Consider a slight wrist snap with your pickleball paddle just before contact. The motion would be similar to slapping something with the back of your hand.
  • Follow-Through:
    • Finish your swing forward through the pickleball in a slightly downward trajectory.
    • Follow through your swing in the direction of your target, and allow your body and feet to move back to being parallel to the net, which will help you quickly recover for the next shot.
  • Shot Placement:
    • Recognize that the high backhand shot is often a defensive shot used to keep the ball in play, rather than to win the point outright.
    • Aim for the middle of the pickleball court, where the net is the lowest, to increase your margin of error and reduce the risk of hitting the ball into the net or out of bounds.
  • Practice and Patience:
    • Consistent practice is essential to improve your high backhand shot. Work on it when possible.
    • Be patient with your progress, as this is a challenging shot to master. 

Remember that pickleball, like any sport, requires both technical skill and tactical awareness. Knowing when to use the high backhand as a defensive shot to maintain a rally is just as important as having the skill to execute it accurately. With practice and a strategic mindset, you can develop a reliable high backhand shot to enhance your game and tackle this most difficult shot on the pickleball court.


Plus, if you want more pickleball tips and strategies on every aspect of your pickleball game, check out Pickler’s online video lesson collection called My Pro Pickleball Coach. My Pro Pickleball Coach is a fraction of the price of one clinic or even one lesson, and features over 140 video lessons (over 7 hours of instruction!), as well as a corresponding e-book. These online video lessons are available on demand 24/7 and breakdown every aspect of the sport of pickleball, including pickleball drills, strategy, and advanced concepts, so you will play your best pickleball.


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