For those starting out in tennis, getting to know the different types of strokes, stances, terms, grips, etc., can feel overwhelming. Not to worry, we have your back! In our new teaching series titled, “The Beginner’s Guide” (fitting, right?) we’ve enlisted some of Canada’s top instructors to provide us with their expert steps and hot tips on how to approach the various basics of tennis. A free lesson? Pretty sweet, right?
Background: A Level 4 certified coach, André Labelle led the Quebec junior boys team in 1984 and 1985 and was the junior boys national coach for Tennis Canada in 1986. He served as captain for the Canadian team featuring Lareau, Leblanc, Nestor and Janecek at the Sunshine Cup in Florida, as well as coached the Canadian Olympic team at the Seoul Games in 1988 and the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona.
“To prepare for an overhead smash, as you see your opponent’s lob coming in, start moving your feet in cross-over steps (avoid back-pedalling) to get under the lob while simultaneously turning your upper body sideways with both arms up in the air, similar to how a quarterback in football does when throwing a football,” says Labelle.
To keep a good eye on the ball, point at it with your index finger (non-dominate hand) until you decide to make contact. “Your contact point should be in front of your body at 12 o’clock,” says Labelle, “and don’t forget to pronate your wrist to ensure you are hitting the back of the ball.”
When it comes to a really good placement for an overhead smash, imagine the court is broken into quarters. “It’s a powerful shot so you’re going to want to aim to hit the ball within the 3/4 court area,” says Labelle.
To get your overhead smash looking like that of a seasoned pro, Labelle recommends focusing your area of practice on developing a fluid arm action by avoiding to hit the ball too hard, “Concentrate on bringing your racquet head toward the ball with a smooth swing action.”
You’re going to want to hit a smash from anywhere and everywhere on the court. To ensure you’re ready to go the distance, Labelle recommends that you always practice your overhead from the service line area, “This will help you get used to hitting your overhead from the farthest position from the net.”
Class dismissed! Go on, what are you waiting for? Pick up that racquet!
Some hot tips on how to get your overhead smash started:
Tweaking a few more of the basics: