The Overhead Made Easy

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Steady Eddy, Jun 14, 2018 at 1:34 PM.

  1. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    I used to really struggle with this stroke, so I'm not bragging.

    But it really can be easy. Have a partner hit you a medium high ball and let it bounce. Now, keep it in front of you, ("overhead" is just a figure of speech), you might even want to take it only slightly above your forehead, and snap down on it using your wrist.

    Later try hitting some from a higher point, and then taking some before the bounce. Take some from behind the baseline, but don't hit down on those, hit with plenty of net clearance.

    Think of the stroke as being in your hands, and you'll be effective even when not in the ideal position. Forget all that stuff about, "the power comes from your core", "the knee bend gives the speed". How can that be? Even if it does, it doesn't need to be so complicated. With my little wrist snap, I can bounce a short ball over the fence, and you don't need more than that.
     
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  2. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    That low and you won't be able to get even decent racquet extension. You'll be sacrificing maybe 3' of vertical clearance vs full extension which in turn severely reduces what kind of angles you can hit.

    I don't think this is good advice. An OH should not be a wrist-dominated shot. The only exception I can think of is it's about to go over my head and I want to hit downward and not be defensive. In that case, I might snap my wrist to keep a high contact point. This is common in a volleyball spike when one is very close to the net and can't take a normal swing or you're trying to go over the block.

    Agree. You'll become feared if you can hit a decent OH from behind the BL; many don't even try.

    Footwork is probably the most important element in an OH. When I miss, it's usually due to poor FW.
     
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  3. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    That's big. So is taking one's eye off the ball. Very easy mistake to make, especially on a big point.

    I'll mention a 3rd one too. Not practicing the stroke. If you can't find anyone willing to hit lobs to you, just go out by yourself, and use your racquet to hit pop ups, and practice smashing them.
     
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  4. onehandbh

    onehandbh Legend

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    Most common mistake I see people make regarding overheads at the net is that they don’t turn sideways as their first move.

    Instead they backpedal, both nipples to the net.
     
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  5. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

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    The overhead is very similar to the serve. Little less stretching of ISR muscles is probably typical.



    With the serve you control the ball placement. With an overhead you have to position yourself the correct distance away from the falling ball, keep feet moving. If the ball is going into the net or too sharply downward you are probably too far away from the falling ball. Demo by holding racket and looking at how closed the racket face becomes at increasing distances from you.If you use a Waiter's Tray type overhead technique the racket will be closing at higher speeds (for equivalent pace) and be harder to control - more net shots.

    If both racket closing and ISR are used for racket head speed then the racket is less likely to be too open or closed and hit too high or too low, respectively.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018 at 7:09 PM
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  6. samarai

    samarai Semi-Pro

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    fastest way to improve overheads is to get a ball machine. Practice with about 100 lob balls each time out. It took me 6 months to get a feel at how to judge where the ball is. Always try to keep the ball in front of you
     
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  7. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Very true. Turning sideways allows you to get back faster, and then you're also in position to execute the stroke.

    Another reason why this needs to be practiced. Back pedaling is done without even thinking. Putting in time on the practice court helps break this bad habit.
     
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  8. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the video. The OH looked effortless. A good one to imitate.

    Some players make a big grunt as they execute it. It shouldn't be so strenuous.
     
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  9. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    You are advocating ignoring the kinetic chain and just snap the wrist! Not sound advice. Wrists are not for snapping when swinging an implement like a racket.

    If you don’t understand how RHS or power is derived from the ground on up (incl knees/legs, hip rotation, core, etc), read up on the kinetic chain. The KC is important in martial arts as well as most sports.
     
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  10. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    RF is casually hitting a relaxed OH in warmup.And yet he is still employing a full KC
     
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  11. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Maybe that's right for advanced players. With my crowd by 1) getting the OH in court quite often, and 2) hitting it about 70 mph and deep, I'm an OH star. The other guys seem to have a technique that strikes me as way too complicated for them, so their OH is unreliable. That, and they never practice it.
     
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  12. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Not just for advanced players. I teach this to low intermediate players and even advanced beginners. Like the serve, it is a variation of a basic overhand throwing motion (which also uses the KC). In many/most ways, the OH smash is even easier than the serve.
     
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  13. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    @Steady Eddy,

    When you write "snap your wrist", do you mean like Rojer is doing at 1:19?



    If so, I stand by what I wrote earlier about only doing this under certain circumstances; I don't think it's good for most OHs because the margin of error is much smaller.
     
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  14. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Like that? Me? Not really. I've noticed it doesn't help to think of my game having anything in common with ATP pros, or D1 college players. But I DO think that even hacker players should have an easy time hitting easy OHs.

    What happens at our level is the opponent tosses up a lob. Not a great lob. Just a ball hit up high in the air. I've learned you get lots of time, so get back, let it bounce, and take it as an overhead, not as say, a high forehand, (that's what I see in the WTA). I'm almost never in the right position, But by moving my hand, and then snapping my wrist, I can usually manage a once bouncer to the fence. That's usually good enough.

    I think part of the reason my peers mess up so many is they think they should absolutely destroy the ball, like the pros do. If I overswing, I get less pace because I can tell I miss the sweet spot. I have to tell myself to not try to kill it.
    One big way in which it is easier than the serve is that you have more room to hit it. You have the whole court, not just the service box. From behind the baseline, remember to hit for plenty of net clearance. When I hit an OH from behind the baseline, just by it going in often wins me the point. My opponents probably think, "Oh, look at this, he's going to miss for sure." When it goes in, they're not expecting it.
     
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  15. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    I didn't mean "can you hit the OH as well as Rojer?"; I meant "are you talking about snapping your wrist in a similar way to what Rojer is demonstrating?".

    [In the same way, if I ask you if you have common serve elements to Federer like shoulder tilt, core rotation, leg drive, racquet drop, etc, you can answer "yes" even if your serve is nowhere as good as Federer's.]

    I understand your explanation. I'm suggesting that a wrist snap is not the fundamental way to hit an OH. You can accomplish what you're doing now without the wrist snap, which will improve your margin of error.

    I only use the wrist snap in very specialized situations like when I'm close to the net and get a low, flattish lob and if I use a normal OH stroke, the ball will go long because the contact point won't be far enough in front of me. I will either do a sky hook OH or a wrist snap.

    Notice the circumstances under which Rojer hit his OH: it wasn't a high ball when he had a lot of time to set up.

    On this we agree. The wrist snap has nothing to do with whether one overswings.

    I think you're developing a potent weapon. Good on ya, mate.
     
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  16. FiReFTW

    FiReFTW Hall of Fame

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    @SystemicAnomaly and @S&V-not_dead_yet are right, theres no wrist snap on the OH.
    Instead there is a full kinetic chain from ground up that finishes with a smooth and fluid pronation of the forearm and shoulder rotation (it may look like a wrist snap but its not).
    And that makes the OH very effortless yet provides alot of easy power while not putting any effort into it.

    I do want to mention that in some extreme and special situations you do add a bit of wrist snap, its more of an improvisation in this case when ur not in a good position, for example if you get a deep ball and you are extremely leaning back, you have to kind of snap the wrist to get the ball down into the court, but these situations are uncommon and extreme, just like when ur extremely stretched on the baseline and can barely get to the ball while outside the court area and you have to snap the wrist to get the ball in.
    But its still more of a momentum thing when swinging arm and the wrist snap being added on top of that momentum, not a pure wrist muscle out od no momentum, that would be hard on the wrist.
     
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