How to Hit Overhead Stroke in Tennis as a Beginner?


An overhead serve or smash is the most difficult of all the shots in the game to master. These shots are generally avoided by the non-pro level players and if it is executed well enough, it is the most powerful shot and is generally a game finisher. The overhead shot requires a lot of footwork and generally doesn’t involve a ball toss. It is important for tennis players to get on to the best position and hit the overhead shot in their ideal strike zone. 

What is an Overhead Tennis Stroke?

Hit Overhead Stroke in Tennis
Image Credit: Roman Boed from

Overhead shots in tennis are generally preferred when the ball goes over the head. The players have to use their free arm to point towards the ball and give it a powerful shot to land right on the ground of the opponent’s court. Before attempting the shot, make sure that you are just right under the ball. Bring your racket a little backward and try to hit the ball right in front of the body. Players have to make sure that they have a firm grip on the racket to prevent messy shots.

Also Read: A Brief Guide on How to Hit a Backhand in Tennis

Some Important Tips to Keep in Mind, to Hit a Powerful Overhead Tennis Stroke

The overhead stroke mimics a serve but the main difference between the two is that there is no need to toss a tennis ball up in the air for an overhead stroke and it does incur a lot of footwork. The main intention is to make contact with the ball at an ideal strike zone. The following are some of the important tips to work out the overhead stroke in the tennis game.

  • Before attempting the stroke, it is important to resume a position, so that the overhead is placed at an ideal strike zone.
  • The players should not rest on their feet right before impact.
  • Keep taking small adjustment steps to get into the right position to hit an overhead shot.
  • The head and arm of the racquet should be up and ready on time to strike the ball. 
  • The player should turn sideways and ready to coil their energy to hit an overhead smash.
  • Players should use a continental grip to hit the overheads.
  • Players should always anticipate the ball’s movement to adapt to a position to take on the overhead tennis stroke. 
  • Players can practice shuffle steps, cross over steps, and backpedaling to move backward with excellent speed and balance.

Check out: Best Tennis Racquets for Power

Basics of an Overhead Stroke for a Beginner

Beginners should think of the overhead smash as a portable serve. But a smash is hit during the point when the player is already on the move. While playing the overhead stroke, it is important to keep the technique simple and focus on the footwork as it becomes incredibly important to master the stroke. The basic strings that are attached with the overhead stroke are as follows.

Grip: Tennis players must hold the racquet at the continental grip. (Check out: Best Tennis Overgrips)

Positioning: When the players see the ball rising through the air, it is important to alter the position quickly, by keeping the ball in front of you and use quick footwork to attempt the overhead smash. Players have to make sure that their non-dominant hand is angled up towards the ball.

Footwork: Apart from maintaining good footwork while attempting the shot, it is important to have proper footwork while moving back as well. Players have to rotate the body and bring the racket straight back to a ready position, using their non-dominant hand. 

Swinging motion: When the ball drops into a striking position, players have to uncoil and rotate the body to swing the racket up, well towards the ball.

Follow-through: Making an overhead shot alone is not enough, players have to continue a short follow through and bring the racket down across their body. 

Timing of the shot: More than the positioning and movement, timing is an important factor while attempting a perfect overhead stroke. Stay calm and relaxed but ready to handle the ball when it drops at the player’s contact point zone.

Must Check: Best Tennis Racquets for Beginners

Mastering the Overhead Stroke in a Tennis Game

The overhead smart is indeed the most difficult shot in the tennis game. It is tough to handle and is often avoided at the professional level.  But smashes are powerful shots that can score many points for the players. And overhead shots also make the player look great in the tennis game.

1. Preparing for the overhead stroke in tennis:

More than mastering the strokes and preparing oneself physically, mental preparation is more important in this stroke. Players should not panic when they can perform an overhead smash. Being calm and composed and working the trick in the mind is the secret of a winning overhead stroke.

Before attempting the shot, keep the eye on the ball and calculate where you want the smash to land on, in the opponent’s court. On seeing the ball, the player has to focus on it and move slightly backward and into the ready position. After taking the desired position, lean back slightly and turn the shoulder sideways. Let the left shoulder face the net. Bend the legs slightly and keep the left hand pointed in the air, expecting the ball.

2. Slight backswing:

This is the second step in attempting the overhead stroke. The arm of the racket should be positioned upwards and not in the dropping patterns, as in the case of groundstroke backswings. Backswing in overhead smash should resemble a loaded position. The racket should be pointed upward and the right arm should be at a 90-degree angle at the elbow, just behind the head. Instead of just the arm strength, the player should use the whole body, to get the most power out of the shot.

3. Swinging and Contact:

While swinging up and making a contact with the ball, make sure to push the back leg up. The player has to incline the body forward and also pronate the wrist, to transfer the power to the ball. Players have to make sure to swing down quickly and propel the ball into a downward motion to the opponent’s side of the court. The left-arm should naturally move down to the abdomen, to prevent the torso from rotating. Players should make sure that their body weight is transferred to the front leg and the body has to face the net. By following these steps, it is possible to make an excellent overhead stroke.

4. Follow Through:

Even after smashing the ball, the player can continue with the motion of the smash for a special follow through. The eyes should be on the ball at all times. players should make sure that their head and shoulders do not dip with the arm until the shot is done. Also, the stroke should finish with a quick deceleration and the moving head of the racket should stop just below the left elbow.

Final Words

Thus, a successful overhead shot depends on concentration, maintaining proper body motion, and moving the racket steadfastly for quick contact. Players have to make sure that they have a racket with a firm grip, to prevent messy shots.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.