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View Full Version : Is the overhead the most underrated shot in tennis?


Golden Retriever
07-22-2009, 11:12 PM
I think the overhead is actually the most important shot in tennis. You have pros that have mediocre serve, forehand, backhand but ALL pros have EXCELLENT overhead. To be really good, you can get away with one or two mediocre strokes (mediocre but not sucking bad) except the overhead.

You really can't go offensive at all if you don't have a good overhead. Even if you could get your opponent on the run and you are in command, you would lose that command in a sec if you couldn't put away a desperate lob from your opponent on the run.

Even a the pro level, most winners I would say are overheads. So you see how important it is.

mrcalon
07-22-2009, 11:33 PM
agreed. it's key to beating pushers.

SystemicAnomaly
07-22-2009, 11:39 PM
The serve is the most important stroke in the game of tennis. If you can't get your serve in the box, you lose 50% of your games. On the other hand, matches can be won without having to hit a single overhead smash. Case closed.

federer_15
07-22-2009, 11:44 PM
I totally agree. It seems so easy but its not... If the pros didn't have a good overhead it could certainly affect the outcomes of some of there matches.

fed_the_savior
07-22-2009, 11:46 PM
The serve is the most important stroke in the game of tennis. If you can't get your serve in the box, you lose 50% of your games. On the other hand, matches can be won without having to hit a single overhead smash. Case closed.

I kind of agree with this. Of course I have a pretty bad overhead... lol. But in most cases you can keep the rally going at least, even if you can't put an overhead away. No doubt it helps tons though.

fed_the_savior
07-22-2009, 11:48 PM
I had another thought. Probably no shot can be considered "most important" as it is a strength to weakness type of thing. Say I have strong forehands to a strong backhand, this results in an equal battle. I've seen Federer retrieve smashes that seemed ungettable.

masterxfob
07-23-2009, 12:30 AM
The serve is the most important stroke in the game of tennis. If you can't get your serve in the box, you lose 50% of your games. On the other hand, matches can be won without having to hit a single overhead smash. Case closed.

agreed.

on the other hand, i think the overhead is probably one of the least practiced shots.

baek57
07-23-2009, 01:18 AM
The serve is the most important stroke in the game of tennis. If you can't get your serve in the box, you lose 50% of your games. On the other hand, matches can be won without having to hit a single overhead smash. Case closed.

and on a related note, if you can't get the return back you lose 50% of your games as well.

Team_Volkl
07-23-2009, 04:36 AM
The serve is the most important stroke in the game of tennis. If you can't get your serve in the box, you lose 50% of your games. On the other hand, matches can be won without having to hit a single overhead smash. Case closed.

I'm painfully aware of this and striving to improve with it each and every time I play. And heck, an overhead smash is pretty much like a serve, but it isn't, hah.

GuyClinch
07-23-2009, 05:01 AM
The serve is the most important stroke in the game of tennis. If you can't get your serve in the box, you lose 50% of your games. On the other hand, matches can be won without having to hit a single overhead smash. Case closed.

Well unless your playing doubles and then it's only 25%

But more importantly you can quickly get to the point where you can dink serves in using a frying pan style. Sure this isn't taught officially but unofficially its very easy to get serves in with this method. And it can be effective at levels that you wouldn't think it works. You can hit them so soft that they barely clear the net making it hard to tee off on. And you tempt people to tee off so they end up with more errors.

Overheads OTOH are critically important if you want to play doubles or approach the net. Its a shot that people don't pratice enough. But the difficult part of the overhead is the footwork.

I can't tell you how many players I have played doubles with try to backpedal to hit lobs.. I am like..what the.... These guys have okay ground strokes but can't cover lobs to save their life.

Pete

SystemicAnomaly
07-23-2009, 05:54 AM
Well unless your playing doubles and then it's only 25%...

Yes, this is true. However, if your team cannot get serves IN, then we are back up to 50%. This still makes the serve the single most important stroke in the game. The return of serve would be the next in importance. It could be argued that, at best, it is equally important to the serve. However, the ROS is not a single type of stroke -- it can either be a FH or a BH stroke.

If a player has an awesome overhead, the a smart opponent will not give them an opportunity to use it much. However, an opponent cannot prevent you from serving. One cannot build a game around an overhead smash, but the serve is another matter.

Mdubb23
07-23-2009, 06:13 AM
Not really, because no one plays up at the net anymore.

Against pushers it can be valuable, but when playing pushers, there's nothing more important than your mental game.

Steady Eddy
07-23-2009, 07:33 AM
Yes, and most middle-class players can't execute the shot because they never practice it. Maybe it's because most pros make it look so easy, but some people get the idea that they don't have to practice it. Watch people practice, they always stand behind the baseline and rally. Sometimes they go to the net, but when there, they don't practice overheads. The overhead isn't an easy shot, it's not an impossible shot, either. But it does need to be practiced.

tennisdad65
07-23-2009, 08:31 AM
The pro / college players smash 95% of 'reachable' lobs into the stands. It is an easy shot for those guys. So very few pro's lob. Rather, they use passing shots which are easier these days with the heavy topspin they use.

The lob works upto 4.5.. I can lob 4.5 level players and get away with it. A 5.0+ normally never misses an overhead and even backpedalling / scissor kick overheads are put away easily at 5.0+.

i.e., lobs/overheads are employed more at the 3.0-4.5 level.

LetFirstServe
07-23-2009, 08:57 AM
Yes, and most middle-class players can't execute the shot because they never practice it. Maybe it's because most pros make it look so easy, but some people get the idea that they don't have to practice it. Watch people practice, they always stand behind the baseline and rally. Sometimes they go to the net, but when there, they don't practice overheads. The overhead isn't an easy shot, it's not an impossible shot, either. But it does need to be practiced.

Exactly. They aren't the easiest to practice in the first place since the balls go over the fence or all over the place in the other courts. :)

On the other hand they don't take that much practice as some other shots to master however you need to be able execute the shot anywhere on the court and not just at the net. Most lack of execution is because players kind of take it like a serve but on an overhead it has spin and why middle class players put it into the net.

dman72
07-23-2009, 09:29 AM
I just recently learned the technique of slamming the ball into the ground with the racket to practice overheads...I wish I had figured this out years ago.

Cindysphinx
07-23-2009, 09:40 AM
I can't remember the last time I saw Maria Sharapova hit an overhead smash. She hits a swinging volley, as do many top pros.

That said, I think the overhead is very neglected and underappreciated at my level. I know women with excellent service motions who cannot hit an overhead. Or can only hit an overhead in one direction. Or hit overheads so short that you have all day to run over and play a groundstroke. This goes on for years. It is crazy. I think if they understood how relieved an opponent is once they see you have no overhead, they would fix this. If I see an opponent has no smash, I will lob her all day long. I have turned around matches in this way: Lob, wait for error, lob, wait for error.

StringingIrvine
07-23-2009, 09:42 AM
Also think about the mental effect of an overhead smash, its a chance to win the point with authority, not necessarily saying knock the felt off the ball. I think of an overhead close to the net as a BIG BIG BIG opportunity, and if you miss it, it might get into your head, or give your opponent confidence. If you hit a nice overhead for a winner it can boost morale, and maybe mess with your opponent, he won't lob anymore he's going to go for the low % shots for the winners, then you just have to be up at the net and watch the guy hit the net or out. Its definitely something that should be practiced, i don't think there is ONE most important shot in tennis, but overhead can set the tempo

JRstriker12
07-23-2009, 09:51 AM
and on a related note, if you can't get the return back you lose 50% of your games as well.

On another relayed note - I've heard of people winning a match never having lost thier serve, while winning one or two return games, but I have never heard of anyone (at least in the ATP - WTA may be another story) winning match by wining one or two service games but winning all thier return games.

Cindysphinx
07-23-2009, 10:31 AM
On another relayed note - I've heard of people winning a match never having lost thier serve, while winning one or two return games, but I have never heard of anyone (at least in the ATP - WTA may be another story) winning match by wining one or two service games but winning all thier return games.

Yeah, there are WTA players who get broken a lot but still win (Jankovic, IIRC).

I think that in women's league tennis at the 3.5 level and below, "breaking serve" is not something worth focusing on. In other words, say you take two of my 3.5 teammates and tell them to play a set. One player will serve all six games. I think you would get the same result as if they alternated serve. If an opponent breaks my serve, I try to think of it is nothing more than that they won a game, and I'll try to win the next one. And I often do, if I stop doing whatever stupid things I did to lose that service game in the first place, that is.

GuyClinch
07-23-2009, 10:53 AM
Yes, this is true. However, if your team cannot get serves IN, then we are back up to 50%. This still makes the serve the single most important stroke in the game. The return of serve would be the next in importance. It could be argued that, at best, it is equally important to the serve. However, the ROS is not a single type of stroke -- it can either be a FH or a BH stroke.

Well clearly the serve is the most important shot. But overheads are difference makers in doubles, IMHO. Most players can dink serves in. Almost everyone can hit okay ground strokes. So overheads can really make or break your team.

I think lower level doubles often end up as lob fests.. Lobs are so easy to hit and people have alot of trouble with them. The courts I play at don't really seem to have a bit less distance in the back so a topspin lob..wow. It totally ticks people off. I have to hit less of them in casual games else the opposing team will cry.

Pete

JRstriker12
07-23-2009, 11:04 AM
Yeah, there are WTA players who get broken a lot but still win (Jankovic, IIRC).

I think that in women's league tennis at the 3.5 level and below, "breaking serve" is not something worth focusing on. In other words, say you take two of my 3.5 teammates and tell them to play a set. One player will serve all six games. I think you would get the same result as if they alternated serve. If an opponent breaks my serve, I try to think of it is nothing more than that they won a game, and I'll try to win the next one. And I often do, if I stop doing whatever stupid things I did to lose that service game in the first place, that is.

Yeah - in lower level tennis and in WTA, where players don't have dominating serves, breaks are pretty common. Even at 3.5, where I play, alot of the times in tight matches, me and my buddies will trade breaks for about 6 games in a set. That usually stops once one of us gets into a groove.

I still prefer to concentrate on holding serve, rather than hoping for a break. If my serve is working, and I know the opponent has a weakness, I can at least attempt to target that weakness. On return games, you just have to hope that your return is on and thier serve is off.

But back on topic. Yes, overheads in important, I'd say more so in Doubles than singles. In dubs, you'll see lots of lobs, but in most singles matches, you'll see more baseline play, with passing shots instead of lobs if one player comes to net.

Steady Eddy
07-23-2009, 03:46 PM
Yes, and most middle-class players can't execute the shot because they never practice it. Maybe it's because most pros make it look so easy, but some people get the idea that they don't have to practice it. Watch people practice, they always stand behind the baseline and rally. Sometimes they go to the net, but when there, they don't practice overheads. The overhead isn't an easy shot, it's not an impossible shot, either. But it does need to be practiced.

Exactly. They aren't the easiest to practice in the first place since the balls go over the fence or all over the place in the other courts. :)

On the other hand they don't take that much practice as some other shots to master however you need to be able execute the shot anywhere on the court and not just at the net. Most lack of execution is because players kind of take it like a serve but on an overhead it has spin and why middle class players put it into the net.You are shrewd, observant, and intelligent!

If I see an opponent has no smash, I will lob her all day long. I have turned around matches in this way: Lob, wait for error, lob, wait for error.
Even if it is like stealing candy from babies, do it anyway. These people really need to know that they have a giant hole in their game, (esp. doubles), that if they don't have a dependable overhead, they're no player at all. Not picking on their poor overhead makes one an "enabler". They need this tough love.

pvaudio
07-23-2009, 08:16 PM
I think the overhead is actually the most important shot in tennis. You have pros that have mediocre serve, forehand, backhand but ALL pros have EXCELLENT overhead. To be really good, you can get away with one or two mediocre strokes (mediocre but not sucking bad) except the overhead.

You really can't go offensive at all if you don't have a good overhead. Even if you could get your opponent on the run and you are in command, you would lose that command in a sec if you couldn't put away a desperate lob from your opponent on the run.

Even a the pro level, most winners I would say are overheads. So you see how important it is.
The overhead, drop shot and lob are all the most underrated shots. None are even close to the most important shots. Serve, return of serve, second serve, groundstrokes in that order. You can play an entire match without hitting a volley, overhead, lob or drop shot. You cannot, however, not serve or hit a groundstroke.

edit: that was supposed to be underrated

tennisisawesome
07-23-2009, 09:13 PM
I think the overhead is actually the most important shot in tennis. You have pros that have mediocre serve, forehand, backhand but ALL pros have EXCELLENT overhead. To be really good, you can get away with one or two mediocre strokes (mediocre but not sucking bad) except the overhead.

You really can't go offensive at all if you don't have a good overhead. Even if you could get your opponent on the run and you are in command, you would lose that command in a sec if you couldn't put away a desperate lob from your opponent on the run.

Even a the pro level, most winners I would say are overheads. So you see how important it is.

Have you seen John isner fail? It's pretty funny, it's posted somewhere in the Pro Player discussion. He missed the easiest overhead possible.

his overhead is probably usually brilliant though.

but anyway, overhead is easy, so why is it underrated? pretty much anyone can have a good overhead after practicing on like 10 lobs.

Steady Eddy
07-23-2009, 09:19 PM
I know women with excellent service motions who cannot hit an overhead. Or can only hit an overhead in one direction. Or hit overheads so short that you have all day to run over and play a groundstroke. This goes on for years. It is crazy. I think if they understood how relieved an opponent is once they see you have no overhead, they would fix this. If I see an opponent has no smash, I will lob her all day long. I have turned around matches in this way: Lob, wait for error, lob, wait for error.

pretty much anyone can have a good overhead after practicing on like 10 lobs.
Both of these statements can't be true. So who's telling the truth? Support your position, please.

LetFirstServe
07-24-2009, 06:09 AM
Both of these statements can't be true. So who's telling the truth? Support your position, please.

If you practice 10 lobs (in one spot) I think it will lower the chances you will make an unforced error if you do it in the close future as in that day. Months later it wont be the same. Practice 10 lobs on a regular basis and a few sets of 10 lobs in a variety of positions and you should be a lot more successful then not practicing at all.

Nevertheless like my first post I mentioned they are still hard to practice since balls will be going everywhere and over the fence. Depending how serious one is in practicing their overheads maybe the last thing to practice during a session. I hate retrieving the overhead balls.

Cindysphinx
07-24-2009, 06:45 AM
Both of these statements can't be true. So who's telling the truth? Support your position, please.

Dude, I totally win. :)

Either you have learned to hit the shot properly or you haven't. I promise you that if a player does not know how to hit an overhead and is doing something fundamentally wrong, they won't get the hang of it after hitting 10 lobs. The overhead is essentially the serve, where instead of controlling your toss, you have to hit the serve off of the worst toss imaginable.

AlpineCadet
07-24-2009, 06:51 AM
I think the overhead is actually the most important shot in tennis. You have pros that have mediocre serve, forehand, backhand but ALL pros have EXCELLENT overhead. To be really good, you can get away with one or two mediocre strokes (mediocre but not sucking bad) except the overhead.

You really can't go offensive at all if you don't have a good overhead. Even if you could get your opponent on the run and you are in command, you would lose that command in a sec if you couldn't put away a desperate lob from your opponent on the run.

Even a the pro level, most winners I would say are overheads. So you see how important it is.

If you hate overheads, just let the ball drop and hit your preferred groundstroke or you can even try a dropshot.

pvaudio
07-24-2009, 07:06 AM
Have you seen John isner fail? It's pretty funny, it's posted somewhere in the Pro Player discussion. He missed the easiest overhead possible.

his overhead is probably usually brilliant though.

but anyway, overhead is easy, so why is it underrated? pretty much anyone can have a good overhead after practicing on like 10 lobs.
This is a blatant mistruth.