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View Full Version : WHY NO OVERHEAD THREADS?! Great serve, horrible inconsistant overhead...


dwhiteside
11-28-2009, 04:35 PM
So, my serve is a big weapon, and my overhead is a big weakness. Sometimes I whiff entirely, but often I just get a piece of it, mishit it, or hit it with weird unintentional spin. I can do flat and kick serves fine and with good form, continental grip.

How does one hit an overhead ideally? Is it basically the same thing as a serve only on a different court location, only accounting for the different arc and height of the incoming ball? Or is there something I'm missing... I try to keep my non-hitting hand up, keep my eye on the ball, and position my self in the right spot for the downward coming ball, but I still am so inconsistent.

Drills and more drills to practice this are clearly in order, but some technical and explanatory tips surely will be of benefit for me!

Noaler
11-28-2009, 05:20 PM
If you do all those tips right then your overheads will definitly work. Try hitting it soft and positioning the overhead, its more likely that u'll get that in and win a point than a hard overhead.

not soft, but medium paced

StuckInMalibu
11-28-2009, 05:32 PM
If your positioning is good, the only thing you have to worry about is a stiff arm. I can hit bigger overheads when I'm relaxed and not trying to destroy the ball.

CallOfBooty
11-28-2009, 05:33 PM
The three main things that you have to do on an overhead that differ from the serve are moving your feet, tracking the ball longer since you are not controlling a toss, and a shortened swing. To hit the overhead the most important thing you have to do is move your feet. You will get better at this, but right when you see the opponent open up the racket face, plant your left foot if your right handed or right foot if your left handed and then push off with your other foot and do maybe one or two running steps back before shuffling to get in ideal position for the overhead. If it is just an easy high lob, just get in good position so you can hit it after the bounce.

The next thing you really need to do is track the ball. Open up your off arm palm and place it slightly towards your dominant arm side, tracking the ball with the palm at all times. I like to advocate the palm technique because it is easier to think of catching the ball, but some people like the finger technique where you point at it. Either way is fine really. The other thing you need to do is to make sure you KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BALL at all times before and during contact. This is very important and will insure that you know where the ball is. You are hitting an overhead off a lob which is harder than hitting a serve off your own toss.

The last thing you need to remember to do is to shorten your swing. By the law of gravity the ball is constantly accelerating and picks up speed as it drops from the lob. If you take a big swing you might mistime it and shank it. Eliminate the racket drop for sure if you are trying to get better at timing the overhead. But remember the ball is traveling really fast by the time its coming back down to you, so DO NOT shorten your swing speed! Make sure you swing as fast as you normally do or else you will mess up your timing and again, shank the ball.

The overhead is a very good shot and if you get it, you probably deserve it after hitting a great approach shot or deep volley. Do not ruin your chance to end the point by mistiming the overhead. Another thing to keep in mind is to hit the overhead at more of a downward angle compared to the serve. You are so close to the net that if you are timing the overhead right, you will pretty much never miss it. So don't go for a crazy slice angle, hit it flat into the service box and watch the ball fly over the fence.

LeeD
11-29-2009, 07:28 AM
Me...
When I see a lob go up.
IMMEDIATELY decide if it's going over your backhand.
If not, turn sideways and crabhop back to the ball. Oft hand tracks the ball, like you just tossed it.
Watch ball, of course.
I don't shorten my swing from serves, instead swing slightly slower, hitting flats DTL and pure slices, NOT topspin slices, CC.
Depth with net clearance is more important than 110 mph. 80mph usually does the job just fine. You can jump if it's high, but try not to move backwards during the stroke.
Some people stay sideways thru the stroke to get to deeper overheads ala Connors. It works if you can't quite get back far enough to hit a regular overhead.
Remember, you use a closed stance on serves. So you gotta get SIDEWAYS for overheads.

5263
11-29-2009, 09:44 AM
My big key is to get the hitting hand up early. Yes I use the off hand to track the ball, but getting the hitting hand up and paused in a position right before racket drop. much like this-

http://www.tennisireland.ie/userfiles/Image/Logos/TI%20Logos/TI%20Wheelchair.JPG

from here it is much easier to time the shot, but there is plenty of power to put it away.

Steady Eddy
11-29-2009, 10:26 AM
Depth with net clearance is more important than 110 mph. 80mph usually does the job just fine.
I agree with this. We imitate what we see on tv, and we notice that overheads almost always end the point and we hit with a ton of power. But trying to copy that leads to too many errors and the impression that overheads are harder than they really are. Against your opponent you don't need overwhelming speed, and his lobs succeed by counting on so many errors on your part. Also, it's not a 'spike', hit deep and very few come back. You should rarely put an overhead in the net, because you should be aiming deep anyway.

xFullCourtTenniSx
11-29-2009, 11:28 AM
The keys are staying sideways (with your feet, hips, and shoulders) during the preparation phase, and keeping your head up and watch the ball into your strings, which many servers fail to do.

LeeD
11-29-2009, 11:47 AM
Read my first post, says it all...

Ripper014
11-29-2009, 01:38 PM
Call of Booty probably is providing you the best advice... my keys would be to keep it simple.

Comfortable body turn... keep your head up and on the ball... placement over power (80% is plenty)... and most important shorten your swing... the speed of the ball is much faster coming down to you than a serve, concentrate on good contact... rather than power, so keep it short and sweet. You can swing hard, but keep is short and sweet.

W Cats
11-29-2009, 02:26 PM
There was a post about this earlier and as I recall there was some debate about the virtues of pointing the off hand vs the elbow. But I can't for the life of me remember why. Maybe pointing the elbow allowed for contact more over your head than out in front? Anyone remember?

LeeD
11-29-2009, 03:02 PM
I'd advocate straightish elbow and pointing with the off hand, simlar to just after you tossed your serve.
Pointing the elbow would entail bending the elbow, losing out some recovery balance abilities.

papa
11-29-2009, 03:10 PM
The three main things that you have to do on an overhead that differ from the serve are moving your feet, tracking the ball longer since you are not controlling a toss, and a shortened swing. To hit the overhead the most important thing you have to do is move your feet. You will get better at this, but right when you see the opponent open up the racket face, plant your left foot if your right handed or right foot if your left handed and then push off with your other foot and do maybe one or two running steps back before shuffling to get in ideal position for the overhead. If it is just an easy high lob, just get in good position so you can hit it after the bounce.

The next thing you really need to do is track the ball. Open up your off arm palm and place it slightly towards your dominant arm side, tracking the ball with the palm at all times. I like to advocate the palm technique because it is easier to think of catching the ball, but some people like the finger technique where you point at it. Either way is fine really. The other thing you need to do is to make sure you KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BALL at all times before and during contact. This is very important and will insure that you know where the ball is. You are hitting an overhead off a lob which is harder than hitting a serve off your own toss.

The last thing you need to remember to do is to shorten your swing. By the law of gravity the ball is constantly accelerating and picks up speed as it drops from the lob. If you take a big swing you might mistime it and shank it. Eliminate the racket drop for sure if you are trying to get better at timing the overhead. But remember the ball is traveling really fast by the time its coming back down to you, so DO NOT shorten your swing speed! Make sure you swing as fast as you normally do or else you will mess up your timing and again, shank the ball.

The overhead is a very good shot and if you get it, you probably deserve it after hitting a great approach shot or deep volley. Do not ruin your chance to end the point by mistiming the overhead. Another thing to keep in mind is to hit the overhead at more of a downward angle compared to the serve. You are so close to the net that if you are timing the overhead right, you will pretty much never miss it. So don't go for a crazy slice angle, hit it flat into the service box and watch the ball fly over the fence.

Excellent post, one of the better ones I've seen. Well thought out and written.

papa
11-29-2009, 03:16 PM
I agree with this. We imitate what we see on tv, and we notice that overheads almost always end the point and we hit with a ton of power. But trying to copy that leads to too many errors and the impression that overheads are harder than they really are. Against your opponent you don't need overwhelming speed, and his lobs succeed by counting on so many errors on your part. Also, it's not a 'spike', hit deep and very few come back. You should rarely put an overhead in the net, because you should be aiming deep anyway.

Like what you said but aiming "deep" really bothers me. I'd much rather see you going for the service line. You start going deep and your going to fly the baseline on a regular basis.

LeeD
11-29-2009, 03:37 PM
At my level, however up or down you choose to give it, it's easier to use a full swing normal trophy and slow it down like you would on an important point that you NEED to get in. You can slice it also for safety and CC's.
Your trophy position is your trophy position, why adopt a new one?
As for depth, just past service line is the target. You can call it deep or short, but just past the service line. Just like your volleys in doubles, that is the target.
When you hit a volley, it doesn't go much faster than 40 mph. So a 80 mph overhead, hit with flat or sidespin, from inside the court, is sure to be MORE of a winner than your fastest volley.

chancep2120
11-29-2009, 04:43 PM
The keys are staying sideways (with your feet, hips, and shoulders) during the preparation phase, and keeping your head up and watch the ball into your strings, which many servers fail to do.

bingo!!!!!!!!!

papa
11-29-2009, 05:29 PM
At my level, however up or down you choose to give it, it's easier to use a full swing normal trophy and slow it down like you would on an important point that you NEED to get in. You can slice it also for safety and CC's.
Your trophy position is your trophy position, why adopt a new one?
As for depth, just past service line is the target. You can call it deep or short, but just past the service line. Just like your volleys in doubles, that is the target.
When you hit a volley, it doesn't go much faster than 40 mph. So a 80 mph overhead, hit with flat or sidespin, from inside the court, is sure to be MORE of a winner than your fastest volley.

I hear you. However, many players, especially when either coming back from an injury or because they might have been away from the game for awhile, have a problem with timing. The racquet drop from the trophy position often becomes takes just enough time to screw up the whole process. If someone is finding themselves late, they might try keeping the racquet in the down position.

Steady Eddy
11-29-2009, 06:12 PM
Like what you said but aiming "deep" really bothers me. I'd much rather see you going for the service line. You start going deep and your going to fly the baseline on a regular basis.Thanks. I have some reasons for emphasizing depth, though. I had a doubles partner who 'spiked' his overheads too much. Sometimes this gave it a high bounce that went right over the back fence, very good. But other times it went high like a pop-up, and the opponents could return it. Better to hit one that rattles the back fence for a winner, even if it it less satisfying than one that goes over the fence. My overheads aren't very powerful, but I've noticed that when I aim deep it still gives my opponents trouble. Because, it being an overhead, the trajectory of the ball after the bounce means that my opponents have two options: hitting it on the rise, or waiting until it's on its descent. Players at my level don't handle balls well on the rise, so much for that option. But if they get far enough back so that it's dropping, they are well behind the baseline, and being so far back puts them on the defensive if they return it at all. Also, watch some middle-class players sometimes, for some reason they hit overheads into the net more often than deep, by about a 3:1 ratio, IMO. So I think, don't "spike", don't kill it, make good contact and the fact that it's hit from a spot about 9 feet above the ground makes it difficult for the opponents. Trying to do more with it in middle-class tennis is overkill.

Ultra2HolyGrail
11-29-2009, 06:22 PM
Chances are if you have a bad overhead you have very bad timing, and court positioning.

One way to practice court positioning is not even use a racquet and have somebody toss up lobs and catch them with your left hand if you are right handed or right hand if you are left handed. If you can consistently catch the ball then you WILL have good court positioning. Another tip is to point your loose arm at the ball when it's in the air and hit the ball when it comes to the height you normally toss and hit your serve at.

papa
11-30-2009, 04:26 AM
Thanks. I have some reasons for emphasizing depth, though. I had a doubles partner who 'spiked' his overheads too much. Sometimes this gave it a high bounce that went right over the back fence, very good. But other times it went high like a pop-up, and the opponents could return it. Better to hit one that rattles the back fence for a winner, even if it it less satisfying than one that goes over the fence. My overheads aren't very powerful, but I've noticed that when I aim deep it still gives my opponents trouble. Because, it being an overhead, the trajectory of the ball after the bounce means that my opponents have two options: hitting it on the rise, or waiting until it's on its descent. Players at my level don't handle balls well on the rise, so much for that option. But if they get far enough back so that it's dropping, they are well behind the baseline, and being so far back puts them on the defensive if they return it at all. Also, watch some middle-class players sometimes, for some reason they hit overheads into the net more often than deep, by about a 3:1 ratio, IMO. So I think, don't "spike", don't kill it, make good contact and the fact that it's hit from a spot about 9 feet above the ground makes it difficult for the opponents. Trying to do more with it in middle-class tennis is overkill.

OK, I hear you and it makes some sense. I like to have practice sessions where they go for the service lines - generally, in a game they will go longer. The other thing is to practice some angles - don't have to be radical but so the ball go out the the sidelines as compared to the baseline. One of the biggest problems of the overhead is overhitting. So, as you mention, a nice controlled shot is much more effective.

BMC9670
11-30-2009, 05:41 AM
Sometimes I whiff entirely, but often I just get a piece of it, mishit it, or hit it with weird unintentional spin.

This happens to me sometimes on really high balls - must have a depth perception issue or something. If the ball is really high, I let it bounce and then literally pretend I've tossed it to serve (mimicking the arm action and everything) and I get better results - mainly better placement.

I know letting it bounce gives your opponent more time to recover, but it's better than whiffing or mishitting it.:-?

LeeD
11-30-2009, 06:32 AM
Bounce the overhead....
Don't matter whatsoever until you are 6.0 or better!
You hit your overhead from inside your court. Your overhead, no matter how weak, is faster than your normal groundies.
Your opponent has just thrown up a defensive lob after doing some running.
You hit flat overheads at 3/4 speed DTL, or slice your overhead at 3/4 speed CC tailing AWAY from your opponent. If you just hit it 7' inside the baseline, it's a clean winner.
Most of us can hit closer to 4' inside the baseline with 90% efficientcy, so it works just fine at THREE QUARTERS service speeds.

BMC9670
11-30-2009, 08:22 AM
Good points LeeD - I see a lot of guys that just hit the overhead as hard as they can. That's usually trouble. It's all about placement as you have the upper hand.

papa
11-30-2009, 03:33 PM
Bounce the overhead....
Don't matter whatsoever until you are 6.0 or better!


You know, I actually like and make players practice the bounce overhead. My general rule of thumb is that if it would land from a foot or two behind the service line to the net, take it in the air. If it would land behind this area till the baseline, give a lot of consideration to letting it bounce. Too many points are lost in overheads hit behind the service line.

Ultra2HolyGrail
11-30-2009, 04:52 PM
Bounce the overhead....
Don't matter whatsoever until you are 6.0 or better!


Not true at all even at 4.0 level. You just cannot let every overhead bounce. Better to learn to hit a lobbed ball in the air than to see it as something you cannot do.

RafaBrain
11-30-2009, 05:05 PM
... 80mph usually does the job just fine.

+1.
If the first smash did not get the point, you will get a another easier overhead.

RafaBrain
11-30-2009, 05:11 PM
Bounce the overhead....


imo, hit the ball in the air is always better than let the ball bounce.

Ripper014
11-30-2009, 06:26 PM
imo, hit the ball in the air is always better than let the ball bounce.

Absolutely agree... even with a weak overhead, it gives the defender less time to get back in position plus it allows you to get right back in an offensive position at the net.

Netspirit
11-30-2009, 06:28 PM
+1.
If the first smash did not get the point, you will get a another easier overhead.

Almost always, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bJmZ6aaHio

Bungalo Bill
11-30-2009, 07:59 PM
So, my serve is a big weapon, and my overhead is a big weakness. Sometimes I whiff entirely, but often I just get a piece of it, mishit it, or hit it with weird unintentional spin. I can do flat and kick serves fine and with good form, continental grip.

How does one hit an overhead ideally? Is it basically the same thing as a serve only on a different court location, only accounting for the different arc and height of the incoming ball? Or is there something I'm missing... I try to keep my non-hitting hand up, keep my eye on the ball, and position my self in the right spot for the downward coming ball, but I still am so inconsistent.

Drills and more drills to practice this are clearly in order, but some technical and explanatory tips surely will be of benefit for me!

Yup, practice is definetly in order.

However, for the basics, make sure you are:

1. Getting a good shoulder turn. You can do this by using your non-dominant hitting arm to aim at the ball as it is falling towards you.

2. Keep your head up and watch the blur of your arm like you would for your serve.

3. If you really have a tough time, if you can, let the ball bounce.

4. If you take it out of the air, you need to develop judgement as to how fast the ball is headed down toward you for timing.

Remember the ball on an overhead compared to a serve is coming down usually at a faster speed and a much higher position that makes it somewhat more difficult to time your swing. Anything with timing requires practice. However, the type of errors you are having are usually from pulling your head down too soon. Dont bring your head down with your arm, try to keep it up as long as possible.

RafaBrain
11-30-2009, 08:55 PM
Absolutely agree... even with a weak overhead, it gives the defender less time to get back in position plus it allows you to get right back in an offensive position at the net.

And, I hate a moon ball bounces on the line type on a clay court.

RafaBrain
11-30-2009, 09:07 PM
So, my serve is a big weapon, and my overhead is a big weakness. Sometimes ... I try to keep my non-hitting hand up, keep my eye on the ball, and position my self in the right spot for the downward coming ball, but I still am so inconsistent.


Since you have no problem with serve, I would say, the inconsistency is mostly related to timing the downward ball. How about practice "catch" the ball with your hitting hand (arm) for a few rounds--without swinging your arm as well as with swinging your arm--to get feeling and confidence.

5263
12-01-2009, 03:26 AM
I tend to let lobs bounce if they are going to bounce mostly straight up and not hurt my court positioning much, but take them out of the air if they are going to push me back further in the court.

Nellie
12-01-2009, 05:57 AM
I see a lot of good servesr struggle with the overhead if they don't prepare by turning with the racquet held over the shoulder and pointed up (like an very abbreviated service motion). The timing is too hard to use a big serve windup.

LeeD
12-01-2009, 06:36 AM
I'll agree with Papa here... good rule of thumb.. if you're inside the service line, hit it on a fly... if you're between the service line and baseline, use your judgement as to how good your overhead really is. Most will agree than can hit even superhigh overheads just behind the service line, but that is the gray area starting.

deluxe
12-01-2009, 08:05 AM
I've grown up on slow hardcourts and ended up hitting most of my serves with topspin with a toss over to my left (as a righty). I'm pretty sure this has hampered my overhead for quite a while... I used to hit my overhead with the ball in the same position as a would when I served, but recently switched to hitting it more over my right shoulder... it seems to have made a big difference.

Where are other people hitting their overheads in relation to their serve toss position?

2ndServe
12-01-2009, 10:40 AM
Not sure if it's been said before but a serve and overhead are two different things.

1) serve you start your racket low to get some ryhthm and momentum but on the overhead you must get your racket high already to improve your timing, watch a pro and you'll understand

2) footwork, you take your foot left foot push off of it and do crossover steps perpendicular to net to get back get about 5 feet BEHIND where the ball will be. Then you last step will be into the ball

3) Track the ball with your offhand

4) Let it flow it shove it down someone's throat.

LeeD
12-02-2009, 03:59 PM
I don't know about higher prep..
Since '77, I've hit my overheads with the exact same motion as my serves, from trophy onward. I go straight to trophy on overheads, while I loop drop my rackethand on serves.
Difference is 60-80% less rackethead speed, to time the incoming ball easier. Most everyone thinks my overhead is well above my groundies and returns, and wonders how I can be so consistent at overheads and so bad at groundies.
Maybe because I constantly play sets and matches, and seldom ever hit.

user92626
12-02-2009, 04:23 PM
I love overheads. As soon as I picked up the serve mechanic (mine is a mix of flat & slice), my overhead improved almost overnight. The whole "trick" about OH to me is..being able to hit hard and direct the ball to a general spot you want. There should be no or little guessing or relying on luck where the ball might go.

Actually "hit hard and direct the ball to a general spot you want"..is the same concept of serve! lol Except serve must be alot harder or more confined.

LeeD
12-02-2009, 04:39 PM
First serves, I try to hit within 10" max, side to side.
Overheads, confident and singles, closer to 3' side to side.
Overheads, tentative and singles, slice just to weaker side, usually backhand, but lefties make life interesting.
Backhand overheads, placement over power, and usually, it's a forcing or almost winner if I keep it within 3' of the baseline and within that of the sidelines. Mix that one with a short CC slice.
I'm pretty sure I've hit maybe 30% of my overheads at over 90 mph, very close to a placement first serve.

NLBwell
12-02-2009, 09:44 PM
OP:
So, my serve is a big weapon, and my overhead is a big weakness. Sometimes I whiff entirely, but often I just get a piece of it, mishit it, or hit it with weird unintentional spin. I can do flat and kick serves fine and with good form, continental grip.

How does one hit an overhead ideally? Is it basically the same thing as a serve only on a different court location, only accounting for the different arc and height of the incoming ball? Or is there something I'm missing... I try to keep my non-hitting hand up, keep my eye on the ball, and position my self in the right spot for the downward coming ball, but I still am so inconsistent.

Drills and more drills to practice this are clearly in order, but some technical and explanatory tips surely will be of benefit for me!


If you are a pretty good player with good mechanics and are whiffing the ball or just getting a piece of it, you are probably not looking at the ball with two eyes. Therefore, you will have no depth perception.
I had this problem for a long time since I don't really look at my serve with both eyes (you know how high the toss is, and it isn't moving much). To test this, hit some overheads with your body facing the net (opened up), looking directly at the at the ball with your full face - both eyes and the nose - looking at the ball. Just take a very short swing, and you should be contacting the ball solidly. When my overhead goes bad, I will revert to this to method sure I'm looking at the ball.

papa
12-03-2009, 04:34 AM
I love overheads. As soon as I picked up the serve mechanic (mine is a mix of flat & slice), my overhead improved almost overnight. The whole "trick" about OH to me is..being able to hit hard and direct the ball to a general spot you want. There should be no or little guessing or relying on luck where the ball might go.

Actually "hit hard and direct the ball to a general spot you want"..is the same concept of serve! lol Except serve must be alot harder or more confined.

Yeah, your right. Got a lot more room to work with than the serve - if its doubles you've got about 5 times as much space as compared to the serve so let it rip. However, and you might want to try this, get some hula - hoops at the Dollar Tree, WalMart and use those as your targets. Some think you can refine the shot closer than that but I think they are just kidding themselves.

I watched Jelena Jankovic practice for about an hour yesterday - sat behind her mother and a couple of coaches. At one point he was having her do some overhead drills (couple of cones) on the court and as good as she is, she was "maybe" getting the ball in the radius of a hula hoop from mid court to baseline. So, some are very hard on themselves in thinking they can keep the ball tighter than that - some shots sure but not an average.

Another interesting drill, which I like myself, is placing a cone on both sides and feeding the ball from one cone and having her go after the one on the opposite side. She had a male hitting partner also and they could keep the thing going for several shots. Just changing direction produces interesting results that a good player has to master. She does very well, placement wise and with good pace - kinda fun to watch.

LeeD
12-03-2009, 07:13 AM
Wow, typical hulahoop is a small target, concerning depth. Width is OK, as I've tried to keep it there, but length is tougher to achieve during a match, running around, and playing a ball to end the point. Not sure if the BryanBros can hit a hulahoop in a match.

papa
12-03-2009, 08:43 AM
Wow, typical hulahoop is a small target, concerning depth. Width is OK, as I've tried to keep it there, but length is tougher to achieve during a match, running around, and playing a ball to end the point. Not sure if the BryanBros can hit a hulahoop in a match.

You might be surprised how accurate many can hit the ball. However, they can be good targets even if you don't hit them. You can also prop them up easily with a ball/can.

Actually my post was intended to suggest that even the pros don't hit as accurately as many think.

junbumkim
12-03-2009, 03:42 PM
Serve and overhead are very very different actually.

On overhead, you are hitting something which is really moving downward. If your eyes aren't following, then it becomes one of the most difficult shots.

Once you start whiffing it, it become even more difficult because you lose confidence on overhead very easily.

The bottom line is to keep your eye on it. At first, don't even think about placing it or hitting it hard.

I used to hit overhead against the wall and see how many I can hit in a row. I think i could do about 15~20..

LeeD
12-04-2009, 02:36 PM
I don't know...
Played the last 5 days in a row. Hit every overhead 3/4 speed and maybe hit one into the net, couple long, out of over 50 the last 5 days, most from just behind the service line, some on a fly about mid between service line and baseline.
Maybe just over half were clean winners up the middle (doubles). Dont' see why you think it's so tough.
I WISH I could hit 45 out of 50 forehand groundies into the court, anywhere.

tennis angel
12-04-2009, 07:31 PM
So, my serve is a big weapon, and my overhead is a big weakness. Sometimes I whiff entirely, but often I just get a piece of it, mishit it, or hit it with weird unintentional spin. I can do flat and kick serves fine and with good form, continental grip.

How does one hit an overhead ideally? Is it basically the same thing as a serve only on a different court location, only accounting for the different arc and height of the incoming ball? Or is there something I'm missing... I try to keep my non-hitting hand up, keep my eye on the ball, and position my self in the right spot for the downward coming ball, but I still am so inconsistent.

Drills and more drills to practice this are clearly in order, but some technical and explanatory tips surely will be of benefit for me!

Here is an overhead drill that will be sure to fix your difficulty:

Without your racket, have someone feed you a high ball and catch it on the fly with your non-dominant hand. Do this several times all over the court until you are completely comfortable catching the ball. Next, add your racket but do not try to swing it, just continue finding the ball and catching it with your non-dominant hand. Now catch some balls with your non-dominant hand as you bring your racket into hitting position. Finally, extend your non-dominant arm up as if you are going to catch the ball, but at the last second smash it with a downward movement. You will be dumbfounded at how easy it is. If you miss you need to wait longer to strike the ball. Don't worry about your feet, just do whatever it takes to get to the ball. You might turn and run, shuffle or scissor kick - whatever comes natural to get you under the ball to "catch" it.

tennis angel
12-04-2009, 07:35 PM
Serve and overhead are very very different actually.

On overhead, you are hitting something which is really moving downward. If your eyes aren't following, then it becomes one of the most difficult shots.

Once you start whiffing it, it become even more difficult because you lose confidence on overhead very easily.

The bottom line is to keep your eye on it. At first, don't even think about placing it or hitting it hard.

I used to hit overhead against the wall and see how many I can hit in a row. I think i could do about 15~20..

Another good drill is to hit overheads using the technique in my last post against a wall or indoors on a racketball court. Begin by hitting the ball down as hard as possible to create a really high ball, then track it as if you are going to catch it and smash it - see how many of these you can do in a row. It is exhausting but very rewarding. When you can do it well add some distance from the wall and repeat. It is FUN and will increase your skill and confidence.

papa
12-05-2009, 05:10 AM
Another good drill is to hit overheads using the technique in my last post against a wall or indoors on a racketball court. Begin by hitting the ball down as hard as possible to create a really high ball, then track it as if you are going to catch it and smash it - see how many of these you can do in a row. It is exhausting but very rewarding. When you can do it well add some distance from the wall and repeat. It is FUN and will increase your skill and confidence.

Although fun, I imagine you can guess why I don't care much for this drill. I just don't care for any drill, or any part of a drill, that emphasis a bad habit - in this case your hitting the ball short to create the next overhead. So one part is good, the other not so good.

There are good reasons sometimes to letting the ball bounce so I don't agree that basically everything should be taken in the air. Sun and wind can be serious factors that effect our ability to hit the ball cleanly at times. Far better to let the ball bounce if your shot is going to be iffy (is that a word?).

Many times you just cannot get under effective lobs without letting them bounce. My advice is that if you aren't say 75% sure that you can get off an effective overhead, let it bounce. If your an older player and the ball would otherwise land behind the service line, let the thing bounce and get yourself ready to hit a bounce overhead - it can still be effective. If all else fails, and I am not a strong proponent of this, give them back a lob but make sure its deep.

I unfortunately have seen many players who have developed what I refer to as "front porches". Seeing these players back pedal more that a few feet will scare the hell out of you. I've seen them go right over backward and crack their heads on the court and or breaking wrists - we obliviously (always had problems spelling that word -sorry) don't want to encourage this.

LeeD
12-05-2009, 07:12 AM
POST NUMBER FIVE says to turn sideways, crabwalk back, NOT backpedal.
Only time you're allowed to backpedal is when your partner tosses up a weaker lob, and you backpedal back 4 steps to get out of harm's way.
TURN SIDEWAYS, crabwalk back.

Steady Eddy
12-05-2009, 08:02 AM
POST NUMBER FIVE says to turn sideways, crabwalk back, NOT backpedal.
Only time you're allowed to backpedal is when your partner tosses up a weaker lob, and you backpedal back 4 steps to get out of harm's way.
TURN SIDEWAYS, crabwalk back.Even then, why not turn sideways and retreat? You'll get out of the way faster, and if you're worried about getting hit by a ball, even more reason to turn sideways.

LeeD
12-05-2009, 08:08 AM
When your partner throws up a lob, you can't always be sure the ball will be hit in the air or bounced, so backpedalling allows you to stay in ready position to block back anything within reach. Turning sideways just opens up your blindside to overhead placements.
This is especially turn when your partner throws up a weak groundie, high to the netman's forehand volley. You need to move back 2 steps, but you need to defend yourself too......:shock:

Steady Eddy
12-05-2009, 08:10 AM
I guess it's about priorities. Sometimes winning the point isn't my highest priority. :)

LeeD
12-05-2009, 08:12 AM
Oh, I've turned my back to the opponent when it's obvious a serve speed ball is headed my way. No reason not to live to fight another day.
But that's the difference between moving back to hit an overhead, and moving back to defend your opponent's overhead.

papa
12-05-2009, 08:24 AM
Turning sideways just opens up your blindside to overhead placements.


Yeah, I would only suggest turning sideways and running back is "after" you are lobbed deep. However, for those fighting weight considerations (pretty tactful for me), its a better/safer alternative than back pedaling for more than a few steps.

Bungalo Bill
12-06-2009, 08:49 PM
Another good drill is to hit overheads using the technique in my last post against a wall or indoors on a racketball court. Begin by hitting the ball down as hard as possible to create a really high ball, then track it as if you are going to catch it and smash it - see how many of these you can do in a row. It is exhausting but very rewarding. When you can do it well add some distance from the wall and repeat. It is FUN and will increase your skill and confidence.

This is an okay drill. However, it can lead to players pulling their head down too soon just to get the ball to do what they want to do. When you explain drills, do you know what to help players watch out for?

LeeD
12-07-2009, 07:28 AM
Seems to me, if you want to work on overhead, you need to go out on a court, find a partner to lob you, and then you hit 50 a day twice a week minimum.

papa
12-07-2009, 10:00 AM
Seems to me, if you want to work on overhead, you need to go out on a court, find a partner to lob you, and then you hit 50 a day twice a week minimum.

Either that or get a machine. Its a pain at first to shoot lobs but with a couple of scrap pieces of 2x4 or your bag, you can generally do it ok as long as you don't tilt the machine. The feed mechanism on each machine is a little different but you can always move the machine a little further back.

tennisguy2009
12-07-2009, 06:21 PM
So, my serve is a big weapon, and my overhead is a big weakness. Sometimes I whiff entirely, but often I just get a piece of it, mishit it, or hit it with weird unintentional spin. I can do flat and kick serves fine and with good form, continental grip.

How does one hit an overhead ideally? Is it basically the same thing as a serve only on a different court location, only accounting for the different arc and height of the incoming ball? Or is there something I'm missing... I try to keep my non-hitting hand up, keep my eye on the ball, and position my self in the right spot for the downward coming ball, but I still am so inconsistent.

Drills and more drills to practice this are clearly in order, but some technical and explanatory tips surely will be of benefit for me!


smashing overheads took me while to understand

if you follow this checklist I bet you will do much better

1) try hit the overhead moving forward, in other words if its not a really deep tough one, take that one extra step back so when its time to hit it your weight will be forward again, dont stumble back slowly till you hit it, get back super fast and then plant so you can move forward through the overhead
2) TURN YOUR UPPER BODY - do you serve shoulders square to the court? no.... but so many people smash like that
3) don't muscle it, don't try use your entire being to kill the ball. Relax and think "raquet head speed, not power". Relax and keep your eye on the ball.
4) a well placed smash is far better than a super hard smash back to opponent.
5) Most people smash to the left or center of the court, because its more natural, thats the way a righties body is rotating through the stroke. Unfortunately most opponents expect this, and its to their forehand. Practice smashing to right of the court, much more effective tactic, I think its a much much higher % winning shot (but have no evidence other than my own experience)

papa
12-08-2009, 01:33 PM
Even then, why not turn sideways and retreat? You'll get out of the way faster, and if you're worried about getting hit by a ball, even more reason to turn sideways.

Well, that right. If backpedaling isn't in your game, don't be ashamed, turn and run backward, perferably in a small arc that brings you in back of the bounce.

LeeD
12-08-2009, 04:04 PM
Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken....
This is a OVERHEAD thread, not a run back to the baseline and hit between you legs thread.....
When you turn your back to the opponent, you are conceding advantage, not being aggressive, and merely playing FETCH THE BALL, you DOG, for the opponents.
Once again....
When you see a overheadable ball go up.. and not to the backhand side...
Turn sideways, watch ball, oft hand pointing at ball, crabwalk sideways until you are ready to hit the overhead. Hit on a fly if shorter than service line. If deeper, depends on your confidence.
Get into trophy (if you are an athlete), look at ball, swing flat serve swing at 70% or slice serve swing at 70% to guide the ball DTL or CC.

apor
12-08-2009, 04:56 PM
Another good drill is to hit overheads using the technique in my last post against a wall or indoors on a racketball court. Begin by hitting the ball down as hard as possible to create a really high ball, then track it as if you are going to catch it and smash it - see how many of these you can do in a row. It is exhausting but very rewarding. When you can do it well add some distance from the wall and repeat. It is FUN and will increase your skill and confidence.

There is a better way, one that replicates the arc of the ball coming from an opponent.
You "serve" the ball with a downward trajectory at the ground about 3 feet in front of the wall. The ball will bounce up at the wall and then ricochet up over your head with some backspin. Meanwhile you're tracking the ball for your overhead.
If there is a net line painted on the wall you have an idea of where you're hitting your overhead. Beware- if you hit the overhead straight at the wall in front of you, it's going to be coming back pretty fast.
-apor

papa
12-09-2009, 04:24 AM
Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken....
This is a OVERHEAD thread, not a run back to the baseline and hit between you legs thread.....
When you turn your back to the opponent, you are conceding advantage, not being aggressive, and merely playing FETCH THE BALL, you DOG, for the opponents.
Once again....
When you see a overheadable ball go up.. and not to the backhand side...
Turn sideways, watch ball, oft hand pointing at ball, crabwalk sideways until you are ready to hit the overhead. Hit on a fly if shorter than service line. If deeper, depends on your confidence.
Get into trophy (if you are an athlete), look at ball, swing flat serve swing at 70% or slice serve swing at 70% to guide the ball DTL or CC.

Yes, this is an overhead discussion but there are times when you just can't get to the ball and have to abort the shot by either taking a bounce overhead, ground stroke (if possible) or send up another deep overhead -- in that order. This happens frequently in doubles because we get drawn in and the best way to push us back out of position is with an overhead.