3 Keys to Hitting an Overhead

Earlier this week I wrote about running down a lob.  But when the lob is short, go on offense and hit an overhead.  Here are the keys to hitting it effectively.

1.  Moving into Position

Like retrieving a lob, your first move is to step back with your dominant foot.  You want to be standing sideways, perpendicular to the net.  So think about twisting your body as you move.  Quick is good, but only to the degree that you can maintain your balance.  Keep in mind, you want the ball to be in front of your body when you hit it. (You don’t want the ball behind you or over your head.) So it may take more than one step to get into the correct position on the court.

As you step back, raise your paddle up to forehead level.  To remain in balance, you will want to also raise your non-dominant arm as well.  I point at the ball with their non-paddle hand.  It enables me to track the ball and ensures my forward shoulder remains raised.

2. Choose a Target

As in every shot, it is important to select a specific target.  Unless you are attempting to misdirect the ball with your paddle as you strike the ball, which is a very advanced move, the ball will follow the direction of your body.  So why not direct your mental target to that same location.  Keep in mind, the middle is always good!  So go for it.

3.  Weight Transfer

overheadYou want to transfer your weight from your back to forward foot as you contact the ball.  Reach up and over the ball.  Think about slapping the ball down with the paddle, and letting your wrist snap as you swing.

Breathe!  You cannot make a natural, athletic motion if you are holding your breath.


There is perhaps nothing so satisfying as hitting a hard, crisp overhead that your paddle can’t get their paddle on… and there is perhaps nothing more frustrating than hitting it into the net.  If you find yourself in the “frustrated camp” on occasion, focus on the very first item I listed above.  There are several key points related to getting into position, so permit me to repeat them here:

  • Move into the proper position with the ball in front of you;
  • Keep your arms, forward shoulder and head up; and
  • Maintain balance!

Of course, if you want to improve and gain confidence in your ability to hit an effective overhead you will want to practice.  Purposeful practice will help you believe.


8 thoughts on “3 Keys to Hitting an Overhead

  1. Andy and I have changed our game a lot since we saw you two weeks ago in Columbia. Thank you for the tremendously helpful instruction, your enthusiasm, and all you do for the game. Hope to see you in November at Nationals. XO Jill Michaels

  2. Hi Sarah, enjoyed your hitting the overhead discussion and have had no issues in that part of my game until recently. Generally play indoors (SoFla) and some outdoors when it cools down but played an outdoor tourney recently and had a lot of problems with overheads in windy conditions. Do you have any ideas concerning the ball movement caused by the wind and how to drill for it???

    1. That is a tough one. The best thing I can advise is to work on letting the ball drop lower and taking it as a high volley of the wind impacts it that much. Drill wise you can work on footwork drills to get you to keep moving and be balanced when you do strike the ball

  3. For some reason I am having trouble with this. Was no problem when I started playing,but lately
    seem to miss every time. I know it is that I am not stepping back, but seem to do this same mistake
    every time. I was to the point that I could misdirect the ball, but now lucky to get it over without hitting
    the net. Any suggestions, can this be practiced alone?

    1. Most of the time if I take a look at it there are maybe some minor adjustments to make. However, not knowing what I would suggest first is the 3 B’s of course. Get up in your position to serve get balanced where you can take a second to stand there and breathe. Then have a target on the court you are trying to go to. Sometimes thinking of a serve like bowling could also help.
      I hope this helps some!

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