Can You Hit Overhand In Pickleball? Legal Shot or not?

A game of pickleball is all about the crazy but controlled shots. Overhand is another incredible shot. If you play pickleball regularly, you will agree that there is nothing more exciting than hitting an overhand shot (except for winning a point). Although it is extremely fun to use, unfortunately, you can't use this stroke in every situation. There are some situations where you have to restrict the urge to hit your favorite shot. In this article, we have explained the concept of overhand in pickleball in detail. We have also described the situations when it's legal and illegal. Therefore, read until the end to avoid overhand faults in your next game.

What is an Overhand in Pickleball?

The overhand in pickleball is exactly what it sounds like. An overhand shot is one where you hit the ball such that the paddle is positioned above the waist, defined as the navel. Pickleball overhead smash comes under the umbrella of an overhand.

It is considered to be one of the most amusing hits to play in pickleball. The adrenaline rush you get after hitting the ball fastly with a spike is very satisfying.

Can You Hit Overhand In Pickleball? Everything You Need to Know

By hitting a perfect overhand, your opponent will not be able to return the ball. In the best-case scenario, they might not even be able to move.

Although the euphoria of hitting a spike is impeccable, you must be careful while hitting this pickleball shot. Unfortunately, there are some situations where you can’t hit an overhand.

We have discussed these situations below in detail!

Can You Hit Overhand in Pickleball?

Yes, there are some situations where you can hit overhand in pickleball. But you must be careful as it can be a fault in some cases.

You Can Use Overhand in These Situations

Following are the conditions where it is legal hitting overhand shots in a pickleball game;

  • After a serve, you can hit an overhand shot but you must be mindful of the two-bounce rule.
  • If your opponent is not good at keeping the ball low, you get a golden chance to hit more overhands. If the opponent hits the ball in a way that it’s coming towards you in an arch shape, it’s the best time to show the magic.
  • When the ball has bounced high, you will want to hit an overhand, otherwise, try to avoid it.
  • If the opponent returns the ball and you’re in the baseline, you’ve got a golden chance to generate topspin with this shot.

DO NOT Use Overhand Shots in These Situations

There are some situations in pickleball where you must shoot an overhand stroke. In some situations, it is illegal to make this hit. While sometimes, the situation is not ideal for it.

During a Serve

While serving, you can never strike the ball with this shot. While serving, the underhand shot is a must. if you hit an overhand, it will be considered a fault. Resultantly, you’ll lose the serve or a point.

overhand pickleball

Two Bounce Rule

Most players like to strike an overhand hit with a volley stroke. However, it is important to be mindful of the two bounce rules after a serve.

After a serve, both teams must let the ball bounce for their first shots before returning it to the opponent. Let’s say you are a serving team.

Once you make a serve, your opponent must let the ball bounce before returning it. Now you must also allow the ball to bounce before hitting it.

Although it’s not illegal to overhand in this condition, it is better to avoid it. Since this shot is better in a volley stroke, therefore, trying to hit the ball after it bounces might cause you to lose a point or serve.

After these first shots, you can play the ball with a volley or groundstrokes according to your preference.

Bouncing of Ball

Although an overhand shot can be hit with both volley and groundstrokes. But it is better to shoot the ball when it has not landed on the ground.

When the ball is in the air, it has more momentum and force. Once it touch the ground, it loses momentum and in most cases, it can’t rise above your head.

Therefore if you plan on making an overhand stroke, you should do it before it hits the ground to achieve better results.

Since it can be confusing for you, let’s try to understand this concept with a situation. Let’s assume your opponent has returned the ball with a high arch, which is the ideal returning shot for making an overhand.

If you let the ball bounce in this situation, it might not rise above your head. Resultantly, you’ll end up losing the golden opportunity of winning an easy point or serve.

Let’s Take Some Guidance From the Rules

Although we have discussed the matter of overhand stroke while serving, to describe it further, here’s what the rule book states about it;

  • An underhand stroke must be used to make a serve such that the player hits the paddle with the ball below the wrist.
  • The arm must move upward while making a serve. Also, the paddle head must be below the wrist of the serve.
  • The rule of ‘drop serve’ was introduced in 2021. According to this rule, a server can drop the ball and strike it after a bounce.
  • According to the new rules of 2021, the ball can be dropped from any height, but the player must not add an extra force to make a high bounce.

What’s the Best Time to Play an Overhand Shot?

Although we have discussed some of the situations where you can legally hit this shot. However, there are some situations where you get the perfect opportunity to strike the ball with high force.

One of the ideal, if not the most ideal situation for hitting this stroke is when the opponent returns the ball with a highly arched and predictable shot.

overhand in pickleball

Most of the time, opponents try to avoid pop-ups or high strokes. But if they make a mistake, you must avail the opportunity and hit this shot.

Another ideal situation occurs where you are standing in the baseline and receiving the ball. This situation is ideal for generating an overhand topspin.

Which Grip is Ideal for Hitting the Best Overhand Shot?

The Eastern grip is considered to be the most ideal grip for hitting the best overhand shot. However other grips can also be used in some situations.

There are three common pickleball grips; continental, western, and eastern. Although each grip can be used for hitting an overhand, an eastern grip can be used for the best spike.

To understand it better, let’s take a quick look at the eastern grip.

Eastern Grip

It is also known as a handshake grip since you hold the paddle like you are showing someone’s hand.

To make this grip, start by placing your dominant hand on the paddle such that the face of the paddle is directed towards the left side of your body.

Now drag your hand slowly until you reach the handle. Now grip the paddle. It should look like you’re shaking hands with the paddle.

The eastern grip is mostly preferred for an overhand shot because it can be used for both pickleball forehand and backhand positions. Moreover, an eastern grip gives extra strength to the paddle. Therefore you can easily hit the powerful overhand strokes.

eastern grip pickleball

You can use the eastern grip in two ways; weak and strong. If you make a weak grip, it wouldn’t help you to achieve the heavenly overhand shot.

However, if your grip on the paddle is strong, it would be much easier for you to hit fierce shots in the match. In short, a strong grip gives you more control, strength, and wrist action.

Wanna Improve Your Overhand Shot? Follow These Tips

Now that we have gone through the do’s and don’ts of hitting the overhand shot, let me give you some tips on generating a perfect (or close to perfect) overhand stroke.

Choose the Paddle Like You Choose Your Shoes

The most basic necessity of making a perfect (or at least close to perfect) stroke in pickleball is the paddle.

While buying a new paddle, here are two things you must consider at all costs;

  • Suitable for your grip size and height.
  • Is made of high-quality material.

Yes, you read that correctly. You have to choose a paddle that is suitable according to your body, height, and grip size. When we are shopping for new shoes, we only get the pair that has the perfect size for our feet.

Similarly, a pickleball paddle must be selected according to your grip size. Most players try to find a paddle that is made of good quality and here’s where they make a mistake.

No doubt, the quality of the paddle matters, but its adjustability should be prioritized. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you must remember: the wand chooses the wizard.

It’s the same case with the pickleball paddle. You have to choose the paddle that feels like it’s made for you.

Sadly, the only difference between a wand and a paddle is that the paddle doesn’t choose you, you have to choose it. Therefore, use your brain logically when selecting a paddle.

Now let’s come back from the Harry Potter world and come to the conclusion. All in all, you have to choose the most suitable paddle for yourself if you want to ace your overhand shots.

Suitable Grip is the Key to Unlock the Mystery of the Perfect Shot

Indeed, a suitable grip is key to making the perfect overhand shot in a pickleball game.

We won’t go into the extensive details of this topic as we have discussed earlier. But we wanted to remind you again that holding the paddle correctly will make the best shot.

Position Your Body Correctly

If you already play pickleball, you might know that correct body positioning is very important for making any stroke.

By correctly positioning the body, you would be able to dodge the opponent before hitting a fierce shot. Resultantly, your opponent will not be prepared for your shot.

overhand shot in pickleball

So how do we position our body for overhand? First of all, step forward with your right foot and put some of your body weight on the front foot. Then swing the arm in a vertical arc.

While hitting the ball, generate some controlled force. But you should be conscious of the force as the ball must not lose control.

How to Play the Best Overhand Shot?

Dont know how to hit overhand shots? Use the tips we have mentioned above and follow these steps to make the best overhand strokes in your next pickleball game.

  • Make sure that the ball is high enough. Once you realize that the ball is ideal for overhand, start the process.
  • When the opponent is returning the ball, position your body.
  • Don’t move your feet, instead place them firmly on the ground and rotate your body sideways.
  • When the ball approaches, position your body such that your hips and body are aligned.
  • At this moment, you have to decide whether you want to hit a volley or a groundstroke.
  • Swing the paddle and hit the ball low with a powerful stroke.
  • If your opponent has shot a lob and the ball is going above your head, you’ll have to jump slightly to return the ball.

What is Spike in Pickleball?

Spike is the informal or less technical term used for pickleball overhead smash. A spike is an overhand stroke that is aimed downward in the opponent’s court.

The main key to achieving this is to hit the ball above your head, you can reach it. That is why it’s technically called an overhead shot.

Since it’s aimed downwards, it must hit the feet of the opponent so they don’t get a chance to return the ball towards your side of the court.

A spike or overhead shot can also be used as a counterattack tool. You can use it when your opponent hits a lob, pickleball overhead smash, or a high return.


To summarize, you can use an overhand in pickleball in some situations. However, you can’t make an overhand stroke if you are making a serve.

We tried to provide all details of the overhand shot in this article. If you also have some information or tips to ace the overhand strokes, feel free to share them in the comments.

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