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The Overhead

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  • The Overhead

    Lett's get your thoughts on Chris Lewit's article, "The Overhead"

  • #2
    Great article, My experience is that tournament club level players,( and some marginal pros), donít use slice or kick on overheads enough, especially since poor footwork usually puts them in a defensive position and balance. Is it ego, inability to recognize a defensive situation,or lack of practicing those shots, especially lack of net play and doubles???
    When returning an opponentís slightly offensive lob in doubles, and facing quick players who have retreated behind the baseline , and while not feeling particularly confident about moving and timing a flat overhead, I have even resorted to turning to either alley, and even though revealing direction, have hit kicker overheads that pulled the opponent far to the adjacent court, forcing a weak lob return, or hoping to pull one opponent into fencing that divides the courts if available. I suppose todayís fast game makes practicing those shots not worth the extra time commitment for many.

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    • #3
      Good article. On those backhand overheads, I like to teach a powerful pump of the wrist while simultaneously stiffening the right flank/trunk....certainly if the player has left the ground to hit it. You could argue it's a high volley if the players hasn't had to leave the ground. Stiffening the right flank and trunk gives a player a firm post to hit against. It's crucial part of the shot. The player needs a post to hit against so has to make one of his own...in mid air. I think this aspect of the shot makes it unique amongst the other strokes in tennis.

      Me, I never make positive statements in the warm up. I always smash badly in the warm up in the hope my opponent will deem it weak and offer some up in the match. I have always had reverse psychology like that. Works a treat.
      Last edited by stotty; 05-02-2020, 02:54 PM.
      Stotty

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      • #4
        doctorhl - agree that slice smash not really well known these days. I remember spending hours practising slice smash on the super fast green-painted wood courts at Lilleshall (UK).

        stotty - like many players my age (56), I used to play badminton in the winter, since there were barely any indoor tennis courts. In badminton, backhand smashes (and clears) are nearly as powerful as forehands, but the technique is not suited to much heavier tennis racquets. I do occasionally do a badminton backhand smash on a tennis court - back facing the net, the arm needs to extend vertically, with a pronounced wrist extension at the end of the stroke. That produces a real smash with power. If the arm is only at about 60 degrees from horizontal it's a high volley imo.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by glacierguy View Post
          doctorhl - agree that slice smash not really well known these days. I remember spending hours practising slice smash on the super fast green-painted wood courts at Lilleshall (UK).

          stotty - like many players my age (56), I used to play badminton in the winter, since there were barely any indoor tennis courts. In badminton, backhand smashes (and clears) are nearly as powerful as forehands, but the technique is not suited to much heavier tennis racquets. I do occasionally do a badminton backhand smash on a tennis court - back facing the net, the arm needs to extend vertically, with a pronounced wrist extension at the end of the stroke. That produces a real smash with power. If the arm is only at about 60 degrees from horizontal it's a high volley imo.
          FWIW, I consider a smash hit with shoulder/forearm rotation and a volley hit with the racquet face more or less on the same plane.

          So I can hit a smash overhead or below eye level (when you pop a ball from on top of the net) and I can hit a volley over my head (usually S&V when you get a high floating return too deep in the court to smash, or covering a lob over your partner's head) or below eye level.

          J

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          • #6
            Originally posted by J011yroger View Post

            FWIW, I consider a smash hit with shoulder/forearm rotation and a volley hit with the racquet face more or less on the same plane.

            So I can hit a smash overhead or below eye level (when you pop a ball from on top of the net) and I can hit a volley over my head (usually S&V when you get a high floating return too deep in the court to smash, or covering a lob over your partner's head) or below eye level.

            J
            I see what you mean J011yroger, you could execute a full-swinging smash action with the arm anywhere from vertical to horizontal.

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            • #7
              Excellent thoughts here. Thanks for sharing everyone.

              Will check in periodically.

              Chris

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              • #8
                To me, the reaction to a high ball and the footwork to get in position are critical. I know alot of big strong powerful players that cant hit overheads at all. I also know alot of smaller more nimble, agile players that never seem to miss them. What starts in chaos ends in chaos. Get off to a great start on the overhead and that will resolve many issues players have.

                Good article Chris.
                Question: Does the teaching style of the overhead or its key technical checkpoints differ from different systems and cultures (Israeli, Spanish) in your experience? I'm always fascinated by how different styles and strokes are molded based on environments.

                Kyle LaCroix USPTA
                Delray Beach
                SETS Consulting

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by klacr View Post
                  To me, the reaction to a high ball and the footwork to get in position are critical. I know alot of big strong powerful players that cant hit overheads at all. I also know alot of smaller more nimble, agile players that never seem to miss them. What starts in chaos ends in chaos. Get off to a great start on the overhead and that will resolve many issues players have.

                  Good article Chris.
                  Question: Does the teaching style of the overhead or its key technical checkpoints differ from different systems and cultures (Israeli, Spanish) in your experience? I'm always fascinated by how different styles and strokes are molded based on environments.

                  Kyle LaCroix USPTA
                  Delray Beach
                  SETS Consulting
                  Good question. I can only say that in my experience I have not seen different methods, by culture and country, on teaching the overhead. Although there may well be differences.

                  In my experience, what shapes the technique of a player the most is the surface predominantly played on in their country, the role model players of that country, and the personal predilections of the development coach of the player.

                  Sorry but donít have a more specific answer than that.

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                  • #10
                    I remember getting into a fight with my coach about jumping for overheads.

                    He kept telling me to jump, and of course I would mistime them because I was used to not jumping. I said "why do I have to jump, the ball is going to come down anyway?"

                    Which of course was not well recieved.

                    J

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by klacr View Post
                      What starts in chaos ends in chaos. Get off to a great start on the overhead and that will resolve many issues players have.

                      Kyle LaCroix USPTA
                      Delray Beach
                      SETS Consulting
                      Whenever I get the chance to see my dear old tennis coach I make it a point to do so. He still at the age of ninety is always going out for a hit or for some senior doubles. He had a word for me regarding overheads. He said to me "POISE". Which is by definition a lack of chaos. When the ball goes up you are gathering yourself immediately to get into position. The best smashers of the tennis ball are never out of position.

                      If I was to go on tour there would only have been one candidate to be my coach. The Great Sherman Collins. A Classic and Class individual.

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                      • #12
                        I have some wonderful memories of the UK while spending a year at Birmingham University in 1976?. I traveled around to some UK badminton clubs, including Lilleshall, with a coach named Morris who owned a sporting good shop in Birmingham. He coached some UK Thomas Cup level players. Does his name ring a bell? There wasnít much sponsorship money for those players at that time and they struggled with competing with Indonesian, Malaysian, etc. player sponsorship levels.

                        Originally posted by glacierguy View Post
                        doctorhl - agree that slice smash not really well known these days. I remember spending hours practising slice smash on the super fast green-painted wood courts at Lilleshall (UK).

                        stotty - like many players my age (56), I used to play badminton in the winter, since there were barely any indoor tennis courts. In badminton, backhand smashes (and clears) are nearly as powerful as forehands, but the technique is not suited to much heavier tennis racquets. I do occasionally do a badminton backhand smash on a tennis court - back facing the net, the arm needs to extend vertically, with a pronounced wrist extension at the end of the stroke. That produces a real smash with power. If the arm is only at about 60 degrees from horizontal it's a high volley imo.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          doctorhl - we must have nearly bumped into each other at some point - I used to play most of my junior tennis in Birmingham, either at Edgbaston Priory or Tally Ho! (now sadly gone), and my older sister was at Birmingham University. Sorry I don't recognize the name Morris, but I wasn't so serious at badminton. The Lilleshall thing was a residential week for some regional squad. I remember it both for the slice smash session (already mentioned - I just couldn't believe we spent so long on it!), and because our county selector and organiser (Mary Hughes), who dropped us off, told us all to remember to "wash behind our knees", which always struck me as a bit odd.

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