In my last column titled “A Question of Balance,” I discussed the issues of being too top–heavy and how important it is to have a lower center of gravity for short bouncing balls in the kitchen. However, what about when our opponents lob us and we need to be tall to the ball?
Once again, the answer is “A Question of Balance.”
The key factor to hitting a good overhead is having a proper transition of balance from a low longitudinal stance, aka our feet and shoulders in a position which is facing the net, to a high lateral stance, aka our feet and shoulders in a position which is facing the sidelines of the court.
The reason we want/need to be sideways when hitting an overhead is that gives us the mobility and ability of movement in all directions. It also provides us with a higher reaching motion to the level of the flight of the ball.
When we see the lob go up, the first thing we need to do is to follow the flight of the ball and begin turning to our dominant side. This movement will naturally get us into taking our first step backward using our dominant leg/foot.
As we are moving backward, we want to continue to track the flight of the ball and try to judge the apex of the flight path of the ball.
As we swing, it is important to be ready to begin to reach for the ball early. We should continue to stay sideways and attempt to time our contact with the ball at full extension of our reach.
As we reach to make contact with the ball, our weight should be transferred from our back foot (dominant foot) to our front foot (non-dominant foot) as we complete our follow–through.
We want our reach and the momentum of our follow–through to be going forwards, not backward.
Once we have successfully executed our overhead, we should follow it up by continuing to move forward, taking a position at the seven-foot NVZ line.
My final comment on this subject is that even though we have “learned to turn,” if our opponents lob somehow manages to get over us for a winner, be a good sport and learn to say, “Nice shot.”
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 email@example.com, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.