What is a Smash in Pickleball?
The basics of a pickleball smash involve hitting the ball with adequate force on a steep angle to perform a smash pickleball shot:
- A smash should only be performed with shots that are above your head
- Never backpedal from your position while hitting
- Place your right foot behind your left one (for right-handed users)
- Line up your torso perpendicularly to the net
- Use the power of your entire arm
- Hit the ball with adequate force on a steep angle to perform a “Pickleball Overhead Smash”
Congratulations, if you’ve followed all of these steps correctly, you should now be able to hit a smash. However, like all difficult activities in life, smashing is learned through practice and dedication. So, if you have a partner to play alongside you, ask them to practice smashing with you to develop the smashing capabilities of both of you.
One thing to note is since smashing is a forceful stunt, it’s better to take it slow to avoid any injury, especially if you are old. Older folks take a lot more time to recover than younger ones and the chances of permanent damage are at an all-time high.
Footwork: Why is it Important?
Footwork is probably one of the most important aspects that serving player need to correct if they want to succeed in the game. This includes mastering footwork for smashing in pickleball. The reason why footwork is so important is that the wrong position of your feet locks your body’s full potential to exert power. Let me explain:
For example, when attempting to hit overheads, proper footwork is essential for positioning yourself underneath the ball. This allows you to generate power and control in your shot. By maintaining the correct footwork and positioning.
How Do You Position Your Feet For A Smash Shot?
Put your right foot behind your left one (if right-handed) while bending your knees slightly. After this, make sure to use the power in your hips as well as your upper body strength to hit the smash.
Remember, unless you have to, never backpedal mindlessly as it can really hike up the chances of you falling and it resulting in an injury.
If you are still having any confusion about hitting a smash, we recommend that you watch PrimeTime Pickleball’s YouTube video on this topic.
Smash Power: How Much Should You Use?
A general rule of thumb is to hit a smash as hard as possible. However, this is not always the case. If you believe that the opponent in front of you is skilled enough to send back a fast smash, then try mixing hard smashes with softer ones.
This helps you conserve stamina and it also keeps your opponent guessing as to what speed the ball will come at them. That being said, another good way to keep your opponent guessing is to give the illusion that you’re about hit the ball very hard and then hit it gently. This completely throws off your opponent and could possibly win you a point.
What is the Ideal Amount of Power for Overhead Smash?
Although your smashes need to be fast and unpredictable, your opponent can easily counter them if they are skilled enough. Let us explain:
If you hit a smash directly at your opponent, more likely than not, they would return the ball back to you. So you need to scout the opponent’s court for any weak points and gap areas and aim your ball there.
Also, remember that using all your might to hit the ball can imbalance your aim and increase the chances of hitting the smash on the net or out of the court entirely. So use adequate force while aiming for weak points and you should definitely score some well-earned points.
When Is It Not A Smash?
It is a common misconception that any forceful stroke that is aimed at the opponent’s side is a smash. However, as previously stated, a smash is a powerful shot that goes down sharply into the opponent’s court. Any other shot that doesn’t follow this principle is not a smash.
Player’s Tactics: The Connection Between Lobs & Smashes
A lofted shot intended to send the ball high in the air back into the opponent’s court is called a Lob. A lob is performed by doing an upward motion of a paddle from down below. If it is hit successfully, a lob can alter the positions of the game entirely, switching you from offensive to defensive position and vice versa. Another effective shot to master is the ‘drop shot’, a soft hit that just clears the net and drops into the non-volley zone, making it difficult for the opponent to return with a smash.
There are two types of Lobs, or pickleball lob, that exist in the Game of Pickleball. These are:
- Offensive Lob
- Defensive Lob
The purpose of an Offensive Lob is to fend off your opponent from the Non-Volley-Zone by sending the ball deep into their court. It is an aggressive offensive shot that forces your opponent to backpedal, giving you control over the point. If executed successfully during a dink exchange, it can disrupt your opponent’s rhythm and aim.
If you manage to throw a Lob deep enough during a dink exchange, you’ve successfully hit a good Lob. However, if you mess up and the opponent has the ball perfectly lined up over them, you can expect your opponent to hit you with a deadly smash.
A Defensive Lob is hit in order to counter the smash of your opponent and give your team time to recover and be ready for the next smash because you know it’s coming.
The purpose of a Defensive Lob is to hit the ball far above and deep in your opponent’s court so that they cannot react to it with another smash. Just remember to not hit the ball so high that it ends up going outside of the court.
If you’ve managed to hit a perfect Defensive Lob and your opponent cannot counter it with a smash, you must re-capture the net and start asserting your dominance from there.
It should be clear to you now that Lobs and Smashes go hand-in-hand and one in reaction to the other.
What is a Spike in Pickleball?
How Hard is a Pickleball Smash To Learn?
Even though this article has a lot of different points to go through, don’t stress it too much. Pickleball university is a great resource for pickleball players to learn all the different aspects of the game. Pickleball is a sport that is meant to be enjoyed. Although it is a competitive sport, Pickleball is more for the enjoyment and fitness of the player than for competitive purposes.
This is why take your time learning all the different aspects of the game and consider becoming a member of your local pickleball cub to increase your skills even more. Pickleball clubs usually have coaches that you can hire as well as skilled players that you can learn from.