When you watch the pros, they make overhead smashes look very easy. In fact, almost every time, if a pro or strong player gets an overhead, they put the point away. As most recreational players know, however, the overhead is no bargain. It requires great footwork, timing, and more, to execute a perfect overhead consistently. Here are a few simple overhead tips that are sure to help you take your game to the next level.
Footwork, footwork, footwork
Every shot in tennis starts with your feet. If you are not set for the shot, there is no way you will be able to execute the shot at high level. This is even more important on an overhead. Take small, quick steps as the ball is in the air coming towards you. You want to be sure that you are behind the ball, and are able to extend as you reach up for the shot. If you let the ball get behind you, you are sure to either miss the shot completely, or will hit it late and not be able to make an aggressive swing at the ball. Once you are behind the ball and have it lined up, make sure you have a strong, wide base set with your feet with which to generate power.
This may sound contradictory to the last point that said you need to be behind the ball, but in fact, these points work together to generate a consistently powerful overhead. Once you have gotten in position behind the overhead, you want to make sure your body weight is moving forward into the shot. This will allow you to generate power without over-swinging, as well as allow you to have much better control in hitting the ball in any direction.
Keep your non-racket arm up
While you are getting set for the overhead, all the way until right before contact, keep your non-racket arm extended, and even reaching towards the sky. This will force your body to maintain proper shoulder position perpendicular to the net, and allow your body to coil athletically, creating more effortless power.
When setting up for, and hitting an overhead, you should be turned sideways, or perpendicular to the net. If your chest is facing directly towards the net on an overhead, your body will be unable to get into the athletic positions required to execute a solid overhead, and you are also likely to be flat-footed, which is always the enemy.
You may see the pros jump sky-high to hit an overhead, but you shouldn’t. The main reason would be that it is completely unnecessary. The ball will come down to you, so get set with your feet and meet the ball with an extended arm. The other reason to not jump is simple as well: you are much more likely to miss! When jumping there are way more moving parts, and you also lose a lot of your easy power by leaving the ground. You will be forced to time it perfectly, and swing harder. Bad combo.