Are you in Canada? Click here to proceed to the HK Canada website.

For all other locations, click here to continue to the HK US website.

Human Kinetics Logo

Purchase Courses or Access Digital Products

If you are looking to purchase online videos, online courses or to access previously purchased digital products please press continue.

Mare Nostrum Logo

Purchase Print Products or eBooks

Human Kinetics print books and eBooks are now distributed by Mare Nostrum, throughout the UK, Europe, Africa and Middle East, delivered to you from their warehouse. Please visit our new UK website to purchase Human Kinetics printed or eBooks.

Feedback Icon Feedback Get $15 Off

Human Kinetics is moving to summer hours. Starting May 31 – August 2, our hours will be Mon – Thurs, 7am – 5pm CDT. Orders placed on Friday with digital products/online courses will be processed immediately. Orders with physical products will be processed on the next business day.

How to execute a perfect overhead smash

This is an excerpt from Championship Tennis by Frank Giampaolo & Jon Levey.

Learn about every shot you need to dominate the opponent in
Championship Tennis.


The overhead smash is a shot that puts fear in the hearts of most amateurs. It can result in occasional brilliance, but it often ends in predictable embarrassment. This section uncovers a handful of secrets that will transform an overhead avoider into an overhead hunter.

The primary cause of a misfired overhead is employing a service motion. Although the overhead shares some basic components with the serve—stance, grip, forearm pronation, and keeping the nondominant hand and head up until contact—the overhead is a little trickier. In a typical service motion, the racket head travels approximately 12 feet (3.6 m) of distance from the ready position through the “down together-up together” backswing, up into the loop, and through the contact phase of the stroke. It's one thing to do all of this off a controlled toss, but trying to time a two- or three-millisecond hit off an 80-foot lob dropping at the rate of gravity—often while the player is completely unbalanced—is quite a different proposition. Wherever I travel around the world for tennis workshops, I see amateurs attempting this nearly impossible task. They will invariably shank the ball and say, “You know, I just don't feel my overhead today.”

Consistent overheads are a result of a two-part swing. The first part begins with the ready position (figure 8.4a). From there, the player executes a quick pivot, pointing the feet, knees, belly button, and shoulders toward the side fence. Simultaneously, the player moves the racket handle directly up to the dominant-side ear (figure 8.4b). (Imagine quickly picking up a phone and directly placing it up to your ear to talk.) The role of the nondominant arm is to aid in the coiling process by pointing to the ball with the elbow first (figure 8.4c), then extending the arm to point with the finger (figure 8.4d). This completes part 1 of the swing.

The second phase begins when the lob moves from ascending to the apex into the descent. This is the strike zone phase of the swing. The abbreviated backswing is restarted and moves into its remaining 3-foot (91 cm) swing. Approaching contact, the forearm should pronate (figure 8.5a) as the nondominant hand abruptly tucks into the belly to aid in blocking the shoulders and chest—also known as the third link of the kinetic chain—from rotating (figure 8.5b). After contact, a relaxed deceleration begins down through the follow-through phase (figure 8.5c).

By using this two-part overhead technique, a player can turn a defective liability into a picturesque thing of beauty.

Read more from Championship Tennis by Frank Giampaolo and Jon Levey.

More Excerpts From Championship Tennis