There are few shots more satisfying in the game of tennis than the overhead when executed well. However, for the majority of club players the high ball can cause considerable anxiety. There is nothing more frustrating than constructing a great point and getting yourself into a position to finish it strongly, only to flub the overhead into the net or push it long. Of course there are multiple challenges involved in the execution of the shot such as weather conditions, court position and ball trajectory variations but for the sake of this article we will keep it simple.
The overhead is essentially a service motion. The difference here is that you have no control over the ball toss. Players with great overheads have strong service actions and great footwork to get themselves in the perfect position to kill the overhead. The sooner the player is able to prepare in the serve or “trophy” position, the faster and more confidently they are able to make a decision about where they will direct the overhead. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the last second to get your racquet up or change your mind on the placement. You need to prepare fast, decide your placement and execute well!
Just like a good first serve if you don’t make contact with the overhead at full extension and out in front of your body then you won’t have the power you need to rocket the ball past your opponent. This is primarily your footworks responsibility to keep the ball in front of you.
A great drill for work your footwork on the overhead is to have your pro feed you overheads but instead of reaching up and hitting the ball with your racquet, use your ball toss / tracking hand to catch the ball high in front of you. This will improve your footwork and get you ready to load up for a powerful finish!
Get out on the courts and practice your overheads so you will have the confidence to finish the points you construct!
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