Monday, October 18, 2021

In Over Our Heads, Part 3 The Fundamentals of Hitting an Overhead

Coach Wayne’s Corner

If you are one of my regular readers and you have been following my series of columns entitled “In Over Our Heads,” you should now understand “the logistics of the lob” and have respect of “the availability of your mobility.”

So now let’s discuss the actual fundamentals involved with executing confident and effective overheads.

I am going to present this in a progressive manner/order of occurrence of what goes through my brain as I am encountering this situation during a point.

First off, my main focus is on the strategic progression of the point.

As we know from our previous reading of “The Logistics of the Lob,” early anticipation of a lob is the key to being able to hit a good overhead. The sooner I anticipate that I am being lobbed, the more time I have to execute my overhead.

Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida Director Ryan Reader demonstrates how to hit a confident and effective overhead.   Photos by Wayne Clark

As I am realizing that I am going to be lobbed, I should also be perceiving if it is an offensive or a defense lob; which leads to the decision, do I take it in the air or let it bounce?

Secondly, I start thinking with my feet.

One of my favorite phrases from coaching tennis is “lazy feet lead to lousy shots!”

Fundamentally sound and efficient footwork can make up for much of the lack of “availability of mobility” which I may be encountering.

Like a quarterback taking the snap at the line and back peddling into the pocket to throw a pass, I need to stay on my toes and keep on the move. Don’t be flat footed!

The entire time that all of the above is taking place, I am also thinking with my eyes and always staying focused on the ball and tracking the trajectory and apex of the lob.

As I go to strike the ball, I want to have a full reach and extension of my arm into contact with the ball.

The arm should stay loose and relaxed and the swing should resemble the motion of a swinging catapult; reaching from the shoulder, through the elbow, and finishing with the wrist.

So now we have all the pieces of the puzzle for executing confident and effective overheads. We understand the logistics of lobs, we respect our availability of mobility, and we are taking advantage of our knowledge of tactical experience (which all those years have allowed us to acquire). We are applying sound fundamentals to our strokes.

Lastly, you are not going to be confident and effective in executing overheads by just hitting them during competition. You must incorporate hitting overheads into your practice and drills.

Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.

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