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3 Tips for Perfecting Your Pickleball Slam Technique
The overhead slam, also known as the smash, is one of the most powerful shots in pickleball. It can be a game-changer, but it requires proper technique to execute it correctly. In this article, we will discuss the key elements of a successful overhead slam and provide some tips to help you improve your game. A Guide by Matt Slowinski from The Pickleball Clinic
What is an overhead slam in pickleball?
The overhead slam is pickleball’s most effective point-winner. Struck with strength when your opponent’s return pops up over your head and you can fully extend and strike the ball with speed. An overhead smash hit from the non-volley zone line should not have any wrist movement other than fixing the paddle at the correct angle – when possible, the player should contact the ball in front of their body with downward rotation off the shoulder. Accuracy is earned with practiced repetition.
How to improve the overhead slam?
The overhead slam is one of the most enjoyable shots in pickleball because it provides an opportunity to smash the ball. However, it requires specific techniques to execute the shot accurately. Missing an overhead slam in the net can be quite frustrating, hence it's essential to ensure that the shot is performed correctly.
#1 Turn sideways.
The first key tip for executing a successful overhead slam in pickleball is to turn sideways. It's crucial to hit this shot as soon as you recognize that the ball is going up. Make sure to pivot with your dominant foot; for example, if you're a righty, pivot with your right foot and turn your body back. This sideways positioning is important because it allows you to shuffle backward and be ready for any good lobs that may require you to move back to get to the ball. Avoid backpedaling, which can cause you to fall over, and instead, always turn sideways if you need to move backward.
#2 Raise your hand
The second tip is to raise your hands as you pivot when the ball comes up. As a right-handed player, your paddle hand should have a 90-degree bend at the elbow when you take it back. This position provides the power needed to execute an overhead slam correctly. Reaching up without the 90-degree bend will make it harder to generate power on the ball. Baseball players throw with a similar motion, always getting to a 90-degree angle at their dominant elbow before executing a throw. The non-dominant arm, in this case, the left arm, is used to reach up and guide the motion. Pointing to the ball as it comes up will remind you to keep the non-dominant arm up, which is crucial. Without the non-dominant arm guiding the motion, the motion will drop, leading to a poor overhead slam.
#3 Drop the paddle back, then reach up and follow through.
Our third tip is all about preparing for the overhead slam shot. Once we are in position and ready to hit the ball, we need to drop the paddle behind our head and reach up towards it with a straight arm as if we are trying to high-five the ball. This motion is similar to the serve in tennis. To execute it properly, we should break it down into two distinct parts: going up and coming down. These parts are separated by the contact point, where we pause briefly before moving into the second part of the motion, which is coming down over the ball. It's essential not to confuse these two parts of the motion because we risk missing the ball if we do. If we come down while going up for the ball, we might hit the ball into the net, and if we go up instead of coming down, the ball will soar out. So, remember to go up to the ball, pause at the contact point, and then come down for a successful overhead slam shot.
Watch this video for beginners: OVERHEAD SMASH TECHNIQUE
In conclusion, mastering the overhead slam is an essential skill for any pickleball player. By following these tips on technique, footwork, and timing, you'll be able to execute this shot with power and accuracy. Remember to turn sideways, raise your hands, drop the paddle back, and break the motion down into two parts for maximum effectiveness. With practice, you'll be smashing that ball over your opponent's head and winning more points in no time. So, go ahead and give these tips a try and elevate your game to the next level!