Can You Hit Overhand in Pickleball?

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By Jacob Jackson

Are you a pickleball player who’s curious about knowing “Can you hit overhand in pickleball?”. Seeing other players do this may have made you wonder if it’s allowed. Well, wonder no more!

In this blog post, we’ll answer all your questions about hitting overhand in pickleball. Learn when it is allowed (and when it isn’t), and clear up any doubts you may have.

So grab your paddle, and let’s dive in!

Can You Hit Overhand in Pickleball?

The answer is yes! The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) sets specific guidelines that allow the use of an overhand serve in pickleball.

Hit Overhand in Pickleball
MD Racket Sports

During an overhand serve, the server must remain at least one foot behind both service lines. They must also use a forward motion when hitting the ball with their paddle. They are not allowed to cross their bodies or paddles onto the court before making contact with the ball.

Finally, they must ensure their arm does not exceed shoulder height when delivering an overhand shot. It eliminates any lobs or high serves that could give your opponent too much time to react on defense.

Using an overhand shot allows players more control over where they place the ball during service. It gives them more variety than underhand shots alone. However, it can be difficult for some players due to its technical nature, so practice makes perfect!

With some practice and a focus on technique, you’ll serve up powerful shots with each hand in no time!

How to Hit Overhand Shots in Pickleball?

The overhand shot in pickleball requires precision and technique, making it an essential skill for success. To hit an effective overhand shot in pickleball, you should follow these steps:

  1. Start in a ready position with your feet shoulder-width apart, and knees bent. Keep your arms slightly bent in front of you, and raise your non-dominant hand to guide the ball’s trajectory.
  2. As the ball approaches, take a step towards it while using your dominant arm to contact it at its highest point possible with an open paddle face (face pointing away from your body). You should use enough force to control it and keep it within your opponent’s reach.
  3. Maintain an open paddle face until you make contact with the ball, then quickly bring the paddle back toward you. In addition, it will prevent injuries caused by overextension and excessive force during follow-throughs.
  4. Finally, maintain good posture throughout each stroke by keeping a tall spine angle; this will help maintain balance during strokes and generate more power from each swing taken at the ball!
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Following these steps, you can master the overhand shot and gain an advantage in your next pickleball game.

Tips to Improve Overhand Shots

Pickleball requires players to make both forehand and overhand shots. While the forehand shot is easier to master, the overhand shot can be more challenging for some players. Here are some tips to improve your overhand shots in pickleball:

  • Practice: As with any skill, practice makes perfect. Make sure you practice your overhand shots before heading out onto the court. Even if you spend just 10 minutes hitting against a wall or with a partner, this will help refine your technique and make you more comfortable with the overhand shot.
  • Technique: Pay attention to your technique when making an overhand shot in pickleball. Keep your arm up as you swing through so that it forms an arc shape, and follow through on each swing for maximum power and accuracy.
  • Timing: Timing is vital when making an effective overhand shot in pickleball. Try to anticipate where the ball will go to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the successful execution of this powerful stroke.
  • Focus on Footwork: Good footwork is essential for the successful execution of any stroke, including the overhand. Ensure you use proper footwork and stay light while playing, giving you more power behind each stroke.
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Following these tips should help improve your overall game and precisely how well you execute those all-important overhead shots!

Overhand in Pickleball
Racket Royalty

When Are Overhand Shots Allowed?

There are certain exceptions to which players may use an overhand shot during play.

When playing pickleball, players may use an overhand shot when returning a lob or near the non-volley zone (NVZ) line in the kitchen area of the court. The NVZ line is 7 feet from the net on either side. It is a safety zone for players who do not want to risk being hit by fast-paced volleys at close range.

When playing near the NVZ line, players may use an overhand shot as long as it does not come into contact with any other player or spectator on their side of the court before crossing over into their opponent’s court space.

Furthermore, some tournaments permit overhead shots if both teams agree in advance to allow them during play. However, it is advisable to reserve these shots for experienced pickleball players due to their power.

Generally, pickleball rules mandate executing all shots except serving in an underhanded manner. Nevertheless, depending on your court position and the specific tournament, you might have the opportunity to employ an overhead shot under certain conditions. So double-check your local regulations before hitting the court!

Is It a Fault When I Play an Overhand Shot?

Whether using an overhand shot in pickleball constitutes a fault depends on the point of contact. The official rules consider hitting an overhand shot above shoulder level a fault because it breaches the height restriction of two feet above net height for all shots, excluding serves and returns of serve.

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Conversely, if they hit the ball before it reaches their shoulder level, it does not constitute a fault, provided that they are within two feet above the net height at the moment of contact with the ball during the follow-through phase of the swing.

Pickleball Hit Overhand
GAMMA Sports Blog


Why can’t you serve overhand in pickleball?

Serving overhand in pickleball is not allowed because it can be a dangerous and potentially hazardous move due to the high speed at which the ball can travel. Overhead serves are also challenging to control and are more likely to go out of bounds.

Do you have to hit the ball underhand in pickleball?

No, you do not have to hit the ball underhand in pickleball. Players can use a variety of serves and strokes during a pickleball game, including an overhand serve and groundstrokes hit with topspin or backspin.

What is an illegal hit in pickleball?

An illegal hit in pickleball is any hit that does not follow the game’s rules. It includes hitting the ball out of bounds before it has bounced on your side of the court or double-hitting (hitting twice in succession).


While hitting an overhand shot in pickleball is possible, it is not the most efficient method. The optimal pickleball strategy incorporates a combination of underhand and overhead smashes. You can enhance your game by learning to hit a wide range of shots that will help you score points and win contests with correct practice and repetition

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