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Tips for Better Overheads

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My favorite shot in pickleball? The overhead! Why? Simply put, it is a fun shot to hit. There are some key components that make it fun, and once you have mastered those steps, you will be begging your opponent to hit “just one more lob.” Yes, hitting an overhead can be tricky, but if you stick to some basics, you can achieve consistent results.

As soon as you recognize that a lob is going up and you have assessed that hitting an overhead is in your near future:

• Get moving! It is important to position yourself under the ball to hit a solid shot. Drop your power foot back (this will turn your body almost sideways) and cross-step or use small shuffle steps to get under the ball. Maintain the sideways positioning of your body.

• Put your arms up! Yes, both arms. Getting your hitting arm into position early puts your body in the correct position to generate power on your overhead. Your body coils up to get in position and uncoils as you swing through your shot. Putting your other arm up maintains proper head and shoulder position, reduces errors into the net and adds power to your shot!

Now that you are in position and ready to strike the ball:

• Go get it! Reach for the ball to make contact as far over your head as possible.

• Don’t miss the ending! Allow your swing to flow naturally to the end, remembering that the direction your body is facing is the same path your shot will follow.

Once your body understands its chores for an overhead, it’s time to get mentally focused:

• Be confident! Trust your shot and believe in your ability. Having a positive mindset allows your body to do the work and increases consistency.

• Keep calm! The challenge can be slowing your body down once you have hurried into position to hit the ball. Once you are under the ball, slow down your mind and your swing so that both are focused only on hitting the ball, not on the potential outcome.

Sound simple enough? It is, but this shot does require practice. Recognizing the lob and moving into position will become second nature if you take a few minutes each week to work on this. Take just 10 or so minutes before or after your recreational play to have a friend send 30 lobs into the air. This gives you a chance to practice the mechanics of hitting the overhead and increases your confidence! •

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