Specialty Shots Series – The “Overhead”

  1. In preparation for the shot, set the feet by dropping back with your right foot (left foot if you’re left-handed). Position the feet about shoulder width apart in a closed 3/4 stance (in relation to the net).  Use small adjustment steps to get underneath the ball.  Coil and get into a “set” position with your racquet.  Extend the racquet up and back.  Close the racquet face and set the racquet back behind your head (as if you were using the racquet to brush the hair on the back of your head). Reach up with your non-hitting to track the ball.  A great drill is to practice catching the ball with your extended non-hitting hand.
  2. To hit the overhead, coil with your legs, hips and shoulders and drop the racquet head to a power position just below or even with your shoulder blades. In a kinetic chain, uncoil your legs, hips and shoulders, drop your non-hitting hand bringing the elbow into your rib cage and then loop the racquet up and out, pronating the forearm to make contact with the ball at the top of your reach.  Hit up and out and follow through across your body bringing your hitting hand to your opposite hip pocket.  Your weight should transfer into your left foot (right foot for left-handed players) at the conclusion of the shot.
  3. To move back in response to a deeper lob, use a gravity drop-step to get a quick start to the ball. Then use a series of crossover steps (and adjustment shuffle steps) to position your body underneath the shot.  Use a scissors kick to elevate your body up to make contact as necessary.  Turn and run back if you find you cannot catch up to the ball in the air and need to take the lob on the bounce.
  4. When positioned on or inside the service line, flatten the racquet head at the point of contact and attack the overhead. Don’t be tentative and accelerate the racquet head through the point of contact.  Aim for the service line and “pop” the ball off the court and out-of-reach of your opponent(s).
  5. When hitting the overhead from a deeper, more defensive court position, still accelerate the racquet head but hit with spin and aim up and over the net with higher net clearance and depth.
  6. For doubles, hit to an opening or at the player who has less time to defend (the players closest to the net) when attacking with the overhead and back to the player deepest in the court if hitting a more defensive overhead. If you’re the partner of the player hitting the overhead, look to end the point by moving/drifting in and to the middle of the court to finish the point with a volley or overhead.
  7. For singles, prepare and set early to freeze your opponent or to make your opponent guess prematurely to one side or the other. Go inside out aiming over the middle or low part of the court when hitting a difficult overhead from the ad court (or deuce court for left-handed players).  Conversely hit cross court when hitting from the ad court (or deuce court for left-handed players).
  8. In recovery after the shot, remember to close, split in timing with your opponent’s next shot (if there is one) and look to finish the shot with a volley or second overhead. Be decisive, hold your advantage and don’t let your opponent back into the point.
  9. As an important focal point, keep your head up with your eyes focused up at the point contact through the finish or follow through.
  10. As a second important focal point or reminder, be decisive and bold. This is one shot where it pays to be aggressive.

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