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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Overhead Advice from the Experts

There are a couple of shots that have been little discussed here. One of those shots is the overhead smash. While mentioned in several posts, it has only been extensively discussed in one - The Overhead Smash. We will remedy that lack of discussion by reviewing 2 videos. The first is from Sarah Ansboury and is called Three Tips For Overhead Smashing.

Sarah's video is intended to provide the 3 most fundamental factors to attain good contact and make a good overhead smash. Before the overhead keys, it is important to start in the ready position (as discussed in The Ready Position at the Kitchen Line).

The first key to the overhead is to properly position your body for the stroke. For a right-handed player, the right foot should step back so the body is sideways to the net.

Simultaneously with the step, the second key is to raise the left arm and point toward the ball.

The third key is to contact the ball with a fully extended arm. The swing should come from the shoulder and not using the elbow.

Finally, the contact should occur in front of the body in order to bring the ball down into the opponents' court.

These key points align with my post that includes the following:

As you position your body sideways, both arms should come up. The paddle should be ready with a bent elbow behind the head. The opposite arm should be aimed at the ball, with many instructors stating that the index finger should point at the ball. This position provides balance and reinforces the focus of the head and eyes on the ball over the non-paddle arm shoulder...

An overhead should be hit only when the ball is high enough that you can reach it with the center (sweet spot) of your paddle using a full arm extension. A volley should be used on any ball below that height. Hitting an overhead on a lower ball will usually result in a ball hit into the net...

The swing should be timed so that contact with the ball is in front of your body. Step forward with your foot opposite the paddle arm to provide body inertia into the shot. Most power will not come from the body but will come from the swing itself, however. The arm should be fully extended providing plenty of leverage for power.

A Mark Renneson video called Overhead Movement provides a subtle difference in explaining the footwork. Mark states that the first movement is not stepping back with the right foot, but is instead stepping forward with the left foot.

When I watch Mark's video vs Sarah's video, I see only the smallest of differences. Sarah seems to almost "hop" into position by bringing both feet off the surface and then shifting her right leg backwards. Mark prefers to plant his left foot before stepping back with his right foot. His emphasis on stepping forward is important because it highlights the need to firmly plant the left foot but the relative position of the plant foot, whether forward or parallel to its starting position, seems minor.

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