Hitting overhead on non-lobs

beltsman

Legend
How often do you guys and gals hit overheads off non-lobs? What I mean is, sometimes my opponent will moonball or loop the ball back deep (especially when they're in trouble). Typically, either I can try to take it early (difficult and error-prone), or I can let it come back down into my hitting zone, giving my opponent time to reset. To counter that, I have started hitting overheads more and more.

Because the ball isn't as high, sometimes I'll need to bend down a bit and it's a really sharp slice overhead. It's a fantastic shot that usually surprises the opponent and typically ends the rally or at least keeps the initiative with me. Does anyone else do this? I think I've seen it done a few times by pros, I can't remember exactly who, but I remember a pro doing it from basically his knees at the baseline. I'll see if I can find the video.

Anyways, try it out whenever you're back playing again - an abbreviated overhead off a high-bouncing rally ball from the baseline.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Being able to take a defensive high ball out the air effectively and reliably (overhead, punch volley, swinging forehand, whatever works for you) is a shot that is probably worth an entire NTRP level in singles. It separates 4.5 guys from 4.0s, and 5.0 dudes from 4.5s.
 

beltsman

Legend
Being able to take a defensive high ball out the air effectively and reliably (overhead, punch volley, swinging forehand, whatever works for you) is a shot that is probably worth an entire NTRP level in singles. It separates 4.5 guys from 4.0s, and 5.0 dudes from 4.5s.
That's probably true, although I am nowhere near that level. I usually don't go for a winner with it. My goal is to maintain initiative in the rally. More often than not, my opponent struggles to get it back to due either surprise, heavy slice, and/or pace. I'm talking about hitting a ball that is shoulder level or slightly higher, so it's actually hard to hit a winner unlike a true overhead.

Really wish I could find the pro video. It might be Murray? Or an older guy? He literally gets down on one knee and hits an "overhead." I think it's more common in WTA too for whatever reason.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
I think @beltsman is talking about hitting on the bounce and @travlerajm is talking about on the full, but I do both. However, if the ball is deep and I can't take it on the full, I'd rather half volley or hit a jumping drive than back away.

For some reason, this thread has made me think of the some of the crazy Sampras jump smashes. I know it's not what the OP was talking about, but many were hit off balls that weren't technically lobs.
 
I'm more likely to hit an OH from the BL than most of my 4.5 peers but it usually has to be off of a lob or moonball; a high rally ball is just not high enough for me to risk it.
 

chatt_town

Hall of Fame
How often do you guys and gals hit overheads off non-lobs? What I mean is, sometimes my opponent will moonball or loop the ball back deep (especially when they're in trouble). Typically, either I can try to take it early (difficult and error-prone), or I can let it come back down into my hitting zone, giving my opponent time to reset. To counter that, I have started hitting overheads more and more.

Because the ball isn't as high, sometimes I'll need to bend down a bit and it's a really sharp slice overhead. It's a fantastic shot that usually surprises the opponent and typically ends the rally or at least keeps the initiative with me. Does anyone else do this? I think I've seen it done a few times by pros, I can't remember exactly who, but I remember a pro doing it from basically his knees at the baseline. I'll see if I can find the video.

Anyways, try it out whenever you're back playing again - an abbreviated overhead off a high-bouncing rally ball from the baseline.
I think it's possible and should be done when you can. In doubles it should be an overhead anyway as you should be looking to come in but I think you are on to something. My footwork is bad right now with injuries I've yet to get resolved. So Id not try it but I think it should be with people that can do it.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
As above, particularly important that you do this in doubles. Can be the difference between setting your partner up for an easy poach, or to get drilled.
 

Knox

Semi-Pro
Hmm... I've definitely hit some improv overheads against high balls... it's not exactly in my coaching arsenal though.

My hunch is that there's a threshold where the speed of the shot takes the overhead option off the table... but below that threshold it might be the next-best option behind blasting it off the rise or ripping a lift&spin off the descent. If you can't take the on-the-rise opportunity and the off-the-drop option pushes you too far back then taking an overhead at the apex seems like an acceptable middle ground

Also, I think height plays a significant role in the availability of this shot. Taller players will find the opportunity less frequently while shorter players will see the opportunity more frequently. I think if you're an exceptionally short player it may even be among the best ways to mitigate the moon-ball weakness.

I'll keep an eye out for this shot to see if, when, and why it gets used by pros.
 
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Searah

Semi-Pro
works for one of my male partners. it's only just above the head.. but he just does sort of a overhead push straight at opponents net players feet.

no power in it.. just positioning.
 

Happi

Semi-Pro
@beltsman I generally do a high swinging volley on the balls you describe (if I understand you correctly). It is a very effective stroke, and less prone to errors than a low overhead.
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
@beltsman I generally do a high swinging volley on the balls you describe (if I understand you correctly). It is a very effective stroke, and less prone to errors than a low overhead.
He’s not talking volleys. He means high bouncers.
For me, the biggest issue is recognition. You usually want to know your shot before bounce, and it’s so marginal whether it peaks high enough... In practical rallies I’ve hit slice OHs off the bounce, quite low ones, “tilted”, not crouched. But never tried in actual point play.
 

AnyPUG

Rookie
How often do you guys and gals hit overheads off non-lobs? What I mean is, sometimes my opponent will moonball or loop the ball back deep (especially when they're in trouble). Typically, either I can try to take it early (difficult and error-prone), or I can let it come back down into my hitting zone, giving my opponent time to reset. To counter that, I have started hitting overheads more and more.

Because the ball isn't as high, sometimes I'll need to bend down a bit and it's a really sharp slice overhead. It's a fantastic shot that usually surprises the opponent and typically ends the rally or at least keeps the initiative with me. Does anyone else do this? I think I've seen it done a few times by pros, I can't remember exactly who, but I remember a pro doing it from basically his knees at the baseline. I'll see if I can find the video.

Anyways, try it out whenever you're back playing again - an abbreviated overhead off a high-bouncing rally ball from the baseline.
Opponent hits a high looper from defensive position and you are still at the baseline? It's back to neutral at this point and forget the fact that you were in control a second ago and hit your best shot - regular gs, swinging volley, oh on one bounce, whatever works for you.
 

Bud G.

New User
To me, what the best practice is indicated by the fact that we don’t see pros doing this very often. But, who knows, maybe they just don’t get as many weak balls hit to them as amateurs do.

For the record ... a different scenario ... I find the “slam dunk,” in which the player charges the net hard to hit an overhead on a short, usually somewhat floating ball, to be one of the most exciting shots to see. As was said above, done several times by Pete, and I remember James Blake doing a great one. Probably others.
 
ALllllll the freaking time! Whoever is on the court with me often laughs, guess it looks kind of crazy but I will do it on almost any shot above my belly button that is slow enough for me to take a good hard swing at. I think the angles I can get help be do it and playing since I was a tiny midget kid. I'm 6'4" now so I'm always looking down on the net, to just get some perspective if I stand at the net my waste is way above it and I can walk to the net and step over it without touching it or straining to do so. I also serve a lefty spin serve on the ad side that I use a very wide toss to my left and come across the ball more than on top, I think practicing that made it more comfortable to side overhead instead of over overhead. I joined a new clinic group recently where they are obsessed with practicing swinging volleys. A drill is a doubles drill where the first ball feed is a swinging volley. I'm not sure of the wisdom of this because most players are average 4.0 players and I would not advise anyone who isn't 4.5 or up to focus obsessively on swinging volleys, it's just hard to do. Anyway, at first I was just overheading the feed every time, I mean from the baseline it's only two steps for me and I am inside the service line ready to slam dunk the feed, everyone got mad at me and forced me to do a swinging volley instead. I played nice, but how silly is that to take away that option just because I am bombing the feed over and over?


One more thing, if I can successfully do this in a match, early, it helps more than one point should. Usually the opponents are thinking wtf is this, how is that possible and if it is some strange skill, psyches people out.
 
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