How to Choose Between Overheads and Volleys

Hitting an overhead is a great shot that allows the player to get out some anger or show off their power. Who doesn't get excited when they see a short lob or a floater?

However, you must know the difference between a high floater that needs to be treated as an overhead and one that needs to be treated as a volley.

More: The Secret to Returning Lobs

Players often try to hit an overhead off of a low floater that they should have hit as a high volley. When you swing an overhead at a ball that is too low, the result is usually a ball that sails embarrassingly long.

How to Choose

First figure out what height you are comfortable hitting overheads.

If you cannot hit your overhead at a full extension then you should not be hitting an overhead.

More: 3 Shots You Need for Doubles - and 3 You Don't

If you feel like you are getting jammed when trying to hit an overhead because the ball is too low, then you should be treating that shot as a high volley. You will not be very successful if you're swinging as an overhead and have to adjust your arm or wrist in mid-swing just to try to aim the ball down.

Many times these low floaters are moving faster than lobs. If you want to hit an overhead you have time to properly get our racquet in position.

Not having enough time will cause you to hit the ball late and the ball will end up deep. If you are rushed for time, the volley is the better option.

More: 3 Attack Shots Every Player Should Use

I played in the finals of a doubles tournament back in 1998. Our opponents were hitting these floaters that I kept trying to slam over the back fence. I missed almost everyone. Needless to say, it was frustrating.

The balls were too low and moving too fast. We lost the first set. As soon as the second set started I quit hitting overheads and treated those floaters as high volleys. I hit all of them in and most of them for winners. We ended up winning that match, but we probably would not have if I would have kept trying to hit too big.

The volley is a much easier shot and a much higher percentage shot in these types of situations. It may not look as pretty as that one out of 10 overhead you might hit in, but at least it was in.

More: 4 Tips for Playing Against Heavy Topspin

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About the Author

Scott Baker

Scott Baker is a singles and doubles expert based in central Ohio. To learn more from Scott, visit
Scott Baker is a singles and doubles expert based in central Ohio. To learn more from Scott, visit

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