Relishing Pickleball

David Zapatka

When your opponent hits the ball high in the air, above your shoulders, think overhead smash! The smash is one of the most fun shots in all of pickleball. It ends rallies with an exclamation point.

Execute this fun, rally-ending shot using these seven steps:

1. Use many small steps to position your body into the flight path of the ball. If you have to back up to hit the ball, be sure to turn your body sideways to move back rather than backpedaling and risking a fall.

2. Turn your body sideways to the flight path of the ball, keeping the ball on your hitting side and watching intently as it approaches you.

3. Raise your hitting arm over your head in a cocked position.

4. Extend your non-hitting arm upward, pointing directly at the ball with your legs spread apart for balance.

5. Step forward and swing down through the ball while turning your body. Be sure to hit the ball out in front of your body at head height or higher.

6. At the point of impact, snap your wrist through the ball and follow through.

7. Return to the ready position.

Some of us get so excited when we get a high ball. We want to kill it, be macho and crush it, making sure it won’t come back. This thinking is one of the most common errors when trying to smash an overhead. Using too much force, we often hit it out of bounds, into the net, or take our eye off it and miss the sweet spot of the paddle. You may even risk a shoulder injury.

Instead, channel this energy into focus and direction using less power on your smash. Hit it down the middle where there may be confusion. Hit at your opponents’ feet. The feet are a great target. They are in the court, and balls at the feet are hard to dig out.

Another fantastic target when the opponents are back at the baseline waiting for your hard-hit smash is to direct your controlled hit toward a sideline, creating an angle so sharp they can’t get to the ball before it bounces twice.

Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].