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Where to Draw the Line - Overhead vs. Volley
By:  Scott Baker | Tennis4you  | Tennis Forum  | E-mail

I love hitting overheads! If there is one shot I love to just get out some anger or to show off some power this is the one! I know I am not alone, who doesn't get excited when they see a short lob or a floater? However, you must know the difference between a high floater that needs to be treated as an overhead and one that needs to be treated as a volley. I have seen many players try to hit an overhead off of a low floater that they should have hit as a high volley. When you swing an overhead at a ball that is too low, the result is usually a ball that sails embarrassingly long.

First figure out what height you are comfortable hitting overheads. If you cannot hit your overhead at a full extension then you should not be hitting an overhead. If you feel like you are getting jammed when trying to hit an overhead because the ball is too low, than you should be treating that shot as a high volley. You will not be very successful if you are swinging as an overhead and have to adjust your arm or wrist in mid swing just to try to aim the ball down.

Many times these low floaters are moving faster than lobs. So you have to make sure that if you want to hit an overhead you have time to properly get our racquet in position. Not having enough time will cause you to hit the ball late and the ball will end up deep. If you are rushed for time, the volley is the better option.

I played in the finals of a doubles tournament back in 1998. Our opponents were hitting these floaters that I kept trying to slam over the back fence. I missed almost everyone, needless to say I was very frustrated and I thought I was playing horribly. They were too low and moving too fast. We lost the first set. As soon as the second set started I quit hitting overheads and treated those floaters as high volleys. I hit all of them in and most of them for winners. We ended up winning that match, but we probably would not have if I would have kept trying to hit too big.

The volley is a much easier shot and a much higher percentage shot in these types of situations. It may not look as pretty as that 1 out of 10 overhead you might hit in, but at least it was in.

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker
Tennis4you.com