The Overhead Smash
The overhead smash, the Big Bertha in tennis has a close relationship to the volley although it is not a volley stroke at all. It is a long range and terrifying shot that very often scores. The rules that govern the footwork and positioning for volleys is easily applicable to the smash as well, with only the swing being different.
The swing has a close alliance with the slice service, where the arm and the racquet swing freely independent of the shoulder while keeping the wrist quite flexible to impart a faint twist for holding the ball in court. High speed is what the overhead smash mainly counts on for its devastating effectiveness in winning points. Its high bounce allows time for recovery if not accompanied with speed.
Leaping too high in the air to smash overhead balls may necessitate having both or one foot off the ground as the time of hitting the ball. However, having at least one or both feet grounded at the point of smashing could do a world of good to you by being able to regulate the weight better for better balance and better placement to the desired point.
A constant cause of missed shots is the failure to keep the eye on the ball. However, it is not uncommon to miss shots due to cramped and halfhearted swings that mainly emanate from a lack of confidence.
A main characteristic associated with the overhead smash is that it is a shot more suited for doubles than singles because to pass the net man is far easier in singles than lobbing shots overhead; whereas in doubles, opening the court by lobbing one man back is easily achieved with two men covering the net.
The safest shot in smashing is also the longest because it presents the greatest margin of error. One of the best shots you can make when highly pressed is to smash across the court that gives you long shots. However, when pulling short lobs, to which side you will direct it should be decided with a knowledge of the capabilities of the respective men on either side on the other side of the court.
Whenever you have both choices of either hitting overhead or dropping a short lob, go invariably for the overhead option, since dropping a lob would force you back presenting the opponent with the attacking position.
The lob has a close connection to the overhead smash, which is the normal defense against a hard smash.
In lobbing, you effectively toss the ball high up making it to land at a point between the baseline and the service line. A lob falling within 6 feet from the baseline is generally considered excellent.
A lob is essentially a defensive shot that is best used under certain circumstances such as (1) to gain time for recovering position after having been pressed out of court to answer a shot from your opponent, (2) to break up an attacking net man by driving him back, (3) to wear down your opponent (4) when a possibility of a clear win presents itself with proper placement. Generally this would amount to the lob volley from the close net rally, which by no means is an easy stroke to play.
One of the best defensive lobs is the chop lob since it is generally hit high giving you ample time to regain correct positioning. The stroke lob also called the flat lob is a highly deadly type of lob that is hit with a topspin that leaves no time for the opponent to run around, as it comes lower and at a higher speed than the chop lob. When making the stroke lob, you start your swing as if for a drive, and then suddenly slow down with the racquet face slanted in an upward direction just as you hit the ball. It is very seldom a stroke lob would go over 10 feet up in the air, as the general tendency would be to go out in keeping with the ball’s float.
The chop lob that should be used as an under cut, should be played to go deep after rising to a height from around 20 feet to 30 or a little over 30 feet. A better tactic is to tire out your opponent by lobbing out to make him run back, than lobbing short that could present him with an easy kill with the added benefit of enhancing his confidence. The lob should be played occasionally mainly with the objective of surprising and confusing your opponent. Its effects would be more obvious if this shot is brought at a time he least expects it.