Is it Legal to Serve Overhand in Pickleball?

By: Brandon Fritze

No, you can’t serve overhand in Pickleball because during serving you should play with underhand motion and the paddle below your waist and navel. However, you can hit overhand shots whenever you want in Pickleball except during serving. Otherwise, you will make a fault.

In this article, we clearly stating the answer to whether you can serve overhand in Pickleball or not. For this purpose, read ahead to clarify your confusion.

What is a Pickleball Overhand Serve?

In Pickleball, the overhand serve is a type of service where the ball is hit with an overhead motion.

It is similar to how you might serve in Tennis. Moreover, it is a technique used to start a point and put the ball into play.

Pickleball Overhand Serve

Can You Hit Overhand in Pickleball?

Yes, you can definitely hit overhand in Pickleball as long as you are not serving.

In Pickleball serving, you should hit the ball underhand.

The only reason not to hit overhand during the serving is to allow your opponents to return the ball quickly.

Otherwise, if you hit it overhand during the serve then your opponent will have a lot of difficulties in returning the ball moderately.

When Are Overhand Shots Allowed?

You can’t hit overhand shots anytime in Pickleball except serving like in Tennis.

So, let us explore the specific conditions when overhand shots are allowed in Pickleball.

1. After a Serve

After completing a serve, you are allowed to hit overhand shots. It means that once the ball is in play you have the freedom to execute an overhand shot.

However, it’s important to note that overhand shots should not be attempted during the serving motion itself as this would result in a fault.

2. The Arrival of the Ball at Your Side

When the ball is coming toward your side of the court and you find yourself behind or at the baseline, you can choose to hit an overhand shot.

It allows you to take advantage of the opportunity to play an overhead shot and potentially gain an advantageous position in the game.

3. High Bounce of the Ball

Another condition where overhand shots are permissible is when the ball has bounced at a high position.

If the ball reaches a significant height after bouncing, you have the option to execute an overhand shot in response.

It can also be particularly effective in situations where a high ball presents an opportunity for a powerful shot or a strategic placement.

How Do You Play an Overhand Shot?

To play an overhand shot in Pickleball, follow these steps:

1. Position Yourself : Stand behind the baseline which is the back boundary of the court to prepare for the shot.

2. Grip the Paddle: Hold the pickleball paddle with your dominant hand using a firm grip. Make sure you have control and flexibility while holding the paddle.

3. Toss the Ball: Use your non-dominant hand to hold the Pickleball. Toss the ball slightly in front of you and upward to the desired height. The height of the toss can vary based on your preference and the shot you want to execute.

4. Move into Position: As you toss the ball, take a small step forward with your dominant foot, positioning yourself for the swing.

5. Swing and Contact: Swing your dominant arm in an overhead motion, extending it fully to generate power and control. The highest part of your reach should be where you make contact with the ball. The paddle face should be slightly angled downward to create a desired trajectory for the shot.

Pickleball Overhand Shot

Is It A Fault When I Play An Overhand Shot?

In most situations, playing an overhand shot is not considered a fault in Pickleball except when serving.

During the serve, players are required to use an underhand motion, hitting the ball below waist level. Playing an overhand shot during the serve is a fault.

Exceptions to the Overhand Shot Rule

While overhand shots are generally allowed outside of the service, there are a few exceptions to be aware of:

a. Playing Against a Wall

When playing Pickleball against a wall, hitting the ball with an overhand motion is not considered a fault.

This exception acknowledges the unique circumstances of playing against a wall where there may be limitations on shot selection.

b. Partner’s Overhand Shot

It is not considered a fault if your partner plays an overhand shot during a rally.

It allows for flexibility and teamwork as players can utilize different shot techniques to respond to the game situation.

Overhand Serving Rules

There are specific situations and rules that govern the use of overhand shots in Pickleball.

It is essential to understand these guidelines to avoid committing faults during gameplay. Here are some key points to consider:


You must use an underhand motion when serving, so hitting an overhand shot during the serve would result in a fault.

It would be best if you struck the ball below waist level and with an underhand swing.

Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen)

The kitchen is the area on both sides of the net that extends 7 feet from the net.

When you are inside the non-volley zone, hitting an overhand shot is not allowed unless the ball has bounced.

It would be best if you let the ball bounce before attempting an overhead shot within the kitchen to avoid faults.

Shot Placement

While overhand shots are generally allowed, it’s crucial to be mindful of shot placement.

For example, hitting an overhand shot too forcefully close to the net may result in the ball going out of bounds which would be considered a fault.

Rule Violations

It’s essential to adhere to the specific rules of the game regarding overhand shots.

For instance, raising your elbow above shoulder height during an overhand shot or holding onto the ball for too long can result in rule violations and faults.

The Best Time to Play an Overhand Shot

One of the best times to hit an overhand shot in Pickleball is when your opponent hits the ball at a really high position.

Secondly, when you are receiving the ball and also you are at the baseline then it comes another perfect time to play overhand shot in Pickleball.

Overhand Shot in Pickleball

Best Grips for Overhand Hits

When it comes to executing overhand hits in Pickleball, choosing the proper grip can significantly impact your performance and control.

Here are some of the best grips for overhand hits:

1. Continental Grip

The continental grip is a versatile grip commonly used for overhand shots in Pickleball.

To achieve this grip, place the base knuckle of your index finger on the top bevel of the paddle, allowing for a balanced and comfortable position.

This grip provides good maneuverability and allows for effective control and power.

2. Eastern Backhand Grip

The Eastern backhand grip is another popular choice for overhand hits.

With this grip, the base knuckle of your index finger rests on the third level of the paddle.

It offers stability and control while still allowing for a full range of motion and power.

3. Semi-Western Grip

The semi-Western grip is slightly more advanced but can be effective for players with a natural inclination towards a more topspin-oriented shot.

In this grip, the base knuckle of the index finger rests between the third and fourth levels of the paddle, providing additional topspin potential.

FAQs: Overhand Serve in Pickleball

1. Why can’t you serve overhand in Pickleball?

You can’t serve overhand in Pickleball because it will make the play unfair for the opposing team to return the ball.

Otherwise, there is no other apparent reason for not serving overhand in Pickleball.

2. What is the Pickleball double bounce rule?

The Pickleball double bounce rule states that in each rally, both teams must let the ball bounce once on each side before either team can hit it in the air (volley).

The receiving team must wait for the ball to bounce after the serve before returning it.

Similar to the returning team, the receiving team must hold off on returning the ball until it has bounced.

Final Thoughts on Pickleball Overhand Serve

The overhand shot is a valuable and powerful technique in Pickleball that many players aspire to master. However, it’s important to note that, unlike in Tennis, overhand shots cannot be used at all times in Pickleball. In fact, the opportunity to play overhand shots arises specifically when you are not serving.

Understanding this distinction allows players to make strategic decisions and utilize overhand shots effectively during rallies and gameplay.

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