Hitting The Overhead

One shot that can have a dramatic impact on the psychology and momentum of a match is the overhead “smash.” Make it and smashyou are feeling powerful and dominant. Miss it and you feel like a bozo.

When you watch the pros, they very rarely miss an overhead. One of the reasons for that is they actually PRACTICE hitting overheads. Many of us hit three or four overheads during warm-up and those are the only ones we ever hit, except during a match, when the pressure is dramatically different.

Tips From The Pros

Practicing any stroke will not only improve the technique of hitting; but will also give you confidence that you can actually make the shot “when it counts.” But practicing the wrong motions will only reinforce bad behavior. Here are some tips from the pros that can help instill the correct behavior patterns…

Dick Stockton advises adapting the classic pose: as soon as you see the overhead coming, turn sideways and raise your off arm to ‘point’ at the ball.
• And if you have to go back to hit it, side step backwards (don’t backup with your shoulders parallel to the net)
• And he suggests you let most lobs bounce before hitting them.
• Per Chuck Kinyon (former Dartmouth tennis coach): Start with the racquet head higher than lower and watch something ON the ball as it is coming to you.
• Online tennis instructor Brent Abel says on deep overheads, SNAP wrist for power

For me, the summary of all these keys comes down to saying three words as the lob is coming in my direction:

TURN (sideways to the ball, with your off arm up and the racquet over my head),
BALL (watch something on the ball) and
LOCATION (where am I hitting the ball).

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5 thoughts on “Hitting The Overhead

  1. as i got into the older age groups i noticed that i sometimes did not get back far enough to hit the overhead, even though i always used the same technique to hit the shot. that first big step that i took in the 45’s got shorter and shorter as i got older and older. what has helped me correct this (sometimes) is recognizing this fact and concentrating more.
    the next issue is the vision and balance. looking up and finding the ball has also become much more difficult.
    i need some techniques for adjusting to these issues. ha.

    Joe – that first, fast step is critical. see you soon. george

  2. A problem I often notice during warm up when practicing the overhead is players frequently stand closer to the service line than the net so they are moving forward to hit the overhead but during the match you are more often moving backwards…hitting an easy volley first encourages forward movement followed by the overhead is a much better way to practice…I do admit I only do this when warming up with you George!!

    B – Looking forward to warming up with you, when it warms up up there! tks – george

  3. Buddy of mine and former 175 in world rankings, always tells me when we play
    “Dont try and put that first overhead away (unless its a sitter) hit a nice deep overhead and put away the next one”. It really has helped a lot with my crappy put away overheads I used to miss way to much.

    Marc

  4. great post – my first overhead can almost be guaranteed to go out – this post is especially helpful! Thanks George, wishing you and all your family the best this holiday season.

    Christine – hope it helps. Happy New Year. george

  5. I have found that a 50% swing speed really helps a solid ball strike. Over hitting is a big tendency with recreational players.
    Jim

    Jim – great point! tks, george

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