Hit an Overhead Smash in Tennis

Edited by Jerry Rivers, Lynn, Eng, Alma and 7 others

Jr-o head smash.jpg

In tennis the, overhead smash is an offensive stroke that can end in a point outright. It is practiced less often than the other strokes, yet is an important part of your tennis game. It is the best offense against a defensive "slow" lob, or offensive, hard-dropping topspin lob. Any time the ball is high in the air and will land in the court, your best attack is the overhead smash. Tennis players call it a "smash" for good a reason.

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Many players do not practice this stroke because the stroke itself is a simple one, yet the proper footwork, grip, and hammer-like stroke should be learned correctly to not only make it a formidable weapon, but also to be executed bio-mechanically correct. If mastered properly, it will cause your opponents to think twice before throwing up a lob. Mastering the proper stroke will also help prevent injury. Follow the steps listed in the instructions below, and you will add one more solid stroke to your repertoire. Be sure to consult your family physician before you take up tennis, or any form of sport or exercise.

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The overhead smash is one of several strokes that will make tennis a gratifying sport for you if you learn it correctly. It is recommended to learn the bio-mechanically correct technique in hitting the tennis ball with any stroke. It will give you a more consistent, stronger stroke, and will help keep you from getting hurt. -

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Follow these steps for an effective overhead smash:

  1. 1
    Ready stance
    This is the basic running sports stance when you are facing the net with your legs bent.
    1. Your feet are shoulder width apart.
    2. Your weight is on the balls of your feet.
    3. JR-ready.jpg
      You are looking straight ahead and tracking the ball off the strings of the opponent's racket.
    4. Jerry - Cont. grip.jpg
      The racket is held with your dominant hand at the bottom of the racket, and your non-dominant hand is holding the racket loosely at the "V" above the neck of the racket.
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  2. 2
    Pivot and slight shoulder turn
    1. Quickly pivot and shoulder turn to the side so you can uncoil for power as you hit the ball.
    2. As you pivot, bring your racket arm into a simple, compact "back scratch" position.
    3. In the back scratch position, have that arm's elbow pointing down and the wrist loose.
    4. Your racket will be pointing downward comfortably.
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  3. 3
    Your non-hitting arm (op-arm) should point to the ball its entire trajectory until you are swinging up for the ball
    This serves a few purposes:  
    1. It keeps a full shoulder turn, with your front shoulder up.
    2. It keeps your head up as you track the ball all the way to the moment of contact.
    3. It shields the sun out of your eyes.
    4. JR-point to the ball.jpg
      It keeps you confident as you prepare and hit the overhead smash.
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  4. 4
    Step back
    The overhead smash is the only stroke in tennis in which you take a step back from the ready position to hit. Then, once the ball approaches, be ready to pivot and keep your feet in motion. This is a beneficial tactic because:
    1. It allows you to position readily to prevent the ball from arcing out of your reach. Most overheads that are missed are due to taking a swing under the ball, missing it completely.
    2. It's much easier to take an extra step forward to adjust than an extra step backward.
    3. Stay on your toes as you get in position so that the ball is in a trajectory as if it will hit your chest. This will be a guide so that you will be in a power position when you unwind and smash the ball.
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  5. 5
    As you uncoil to hit the ball up high, you want to reach up as you
    1. Straighten your arm and thrust up with your legs. More power can be generated on the overhead smash if you jump up a bit and hit it.
    2. Snap and pronate your hitting wrist. This is similar to the service motion so that you can smack the ball hard on the sweet spot of your racket strings.
    3. The sweet spot is just above the center point on your strings.
    4. Your weight should be moving toward the net as you hit and follow-through.
    5. The op-arm will drop and tuck into your body as you hit the ball with lots of racket speed from the wrist snap and pronation. Pronation means simply that you turn your wrist as you snap it so that you hit the ball squarely "on the nose" with your racket face.
    6. Note that if you hit the ball high, above your front foot with your arm extended, you can generate more speed on the ball. This will also ensure that the ball clears the net. Thrusting with your legs will push your legs off the ground to put even more angle and action on the tennis ball.
    7. Keep your head up and watch the ball bounce off the strings.
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  6. 6
    The overhead smash follow-through is just like the serve follow-through
    After you make contact with a sharp wrist snap and pronation, you swing the racket around to the op-arm side of your body. Your weight should finish on the front foot. The racket arcs down all the way around your body as if you are putting a sword into its sheath at your hip.
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  7. 7
    Now, return to the ready (split step) position, as you should always anticipate any shot, no matter how much it looks like a "put-away" winner to come back over the net
    This is a good habit for you to develop in your tennis game.  
    1. Note that it is easier while learning this stroke to let the lob bounce as you set up to hit the overhead smash. Once you have developed skill for hitting it, it is recommended to smash it before it bounces. If you can hit the shot before the ball bounces, it becomes even more of an offensive weapon. Also, if your opponent hits an offensive topspin lob, you typically strike the ball before the bounce. A topspin lob takes off, and "runs" away from the court hard once it bounces.
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  8. 8
    So, in a nutshell, from your ready, split-step, position, pivot and turn those shoulders as soon as the ball leaves the opponent's racket
    1. Keep moving for any quick adjustments to a bad bounce or windy conditions. ##Keep your op-arm pointing to the ball as you move into position.
    2. Set up so that the ball would hit your upper chest if you did not hit the overhead smash.
    3. You should be turned to the side as you go into the back swing after the ball. ##Thrust your legs up hard so that you leave the ground, reaching up until your hitting arm is extended.
    4. You next pronate and snap that wrist to generate racket head speed to really smash the tennis ball.
    5. Hitting the tennis ball high allows you to clear the ball well over the net with authority.
    6. You want to hit the ball either at your opponent's feet or well away from him in the court.
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  9. 9
    Learn to hit a good tennis serve at
    Have a good tennis serve.  
    1. The serve is always the first stroke to start a tennis point.
    2. It is similar stroke to the overhead smash, and can also be an offensive weapon.
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  • Have your tennis strings set at mid-range tension for optimal control and power combined. This is especially helpful if you are a beginner. The string tension range is labeled on the side of your racket handle. If it has the range from 50-70 pounds tension recommended, go with 60 pounds.

Questions and Answers

What are the similarities between a tennis serve and a tennis smash?

What are the similarities between a tennis serve and a tennis smash?

Smashes and serves in tennis have a lot in common. Both benefit significantly from a wrist break and bend at contact and after contact. Both use two styles of grips (continental and eastern backhand), but I would not recommend Eastern backhands for smashes for beginners. Both smashes and serves rely on the bend of the wrist to put power and control into your shot.

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What do you mean by pivot and slight shoulder turn?

Pivot and slight shoulder turn. Quickly pivot and shoulder turn to the side so that you can uncoil for power as you hit the ball.

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For right hand player: where does the right elbow point in preparation?

Does it point up? Does it point outwards, near at a 90° angle to body?

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Categories : Sports

Recent edits by: Nuance, tennis harry, Jen M

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