Catch and Throw for a Great Overhead Smash

Russian pro Anastasia Myskina sets up for a perfect overhead smash.

Russian pro Anastasia Myskina sets up for a powerful overhead smash.

If you want to develop a great overhead smash, you need to learn to catch and throw.

When the lob first goes up, think like a outfielder in baseball. Turn your body and locate the ball with your non-playing hand. From this point, pretend like you’re going to catch the ball in the non-racket hand. When we pretend to catch the ball, we tend to move our feet better in order to get under the ball and keep it out in front of us. Many people have been taught to point at the ball; however, many times we just keep pointing at the ball until it drifts over our heads. Catching the ball creates better footwork.

With our feet in good hitting position, we can now get the racket hand up in a nice, simple throwing position. As the ball drops down, make a relaxed throwing motion up at the ball and watch in awe as the ball shoots out like a cannonball from the strings of your racket.

Here is a simple sequence practice drill you can use to improve your overhead smash:

First: Without a racket, have a partner hit you a lob. Turn your body and move your feet. Catch the ball in your non-racket hand. If done correctly, you should be turned sideways, with your non-racket hand extended to catch the ball out in front of you.

Second: Repeat step one, but this time put a ball in your racket hand. As the incoming ball drops down on you, throw the ball up at the incoming ball and try to hit it. I call this “skeet shooting.” Notice as you throw the ball how your hand and arm stay relaxed.

Third: Repeat step one and catch the ball, but this time have your racket ready in a nice throwing position (racket straight up and down, arm and hand relaxed). After you catch the ball, check to see if your racket remains up in a nice throwing position, and that you have caught the ball out in front.

Fourth: Repeat step one, but this time instead of catching, perform the throwing motion with the racket up into the ball. Don’t worry where the ball goes; just feel the nice, relaxed throwing motion and good contact with the ball.

If you accomplish these four easy steps, you’ll be ready to catch and throw your way into a great overhead smash.

Go Out and Master the Game.