American tennis icon Serena Williams (*1981 / USA) is famous for her very powerful and mostly very reliable Service 3.0, which we have introduced here earlier. As it is quite typical with most of the very well serving players, she has also a very sound Overhead 3.0 (=Smash 3.0) technique.
In general, the biggest difference from the service action is that while playing the overhead most of the players are using for the racket take-back the faster upper loop. The time-efficient preparation for the overhead consists of three actions (“triple overhead action”) being taken almost simultaneously, immediately after a quick initial change of the grip into the backhand/continental position – 1/ pointing at the incoming high ball (lob) with the non-dominant hand, 2/ pivot while stepping back and slightly around with the dominant-side leg/foot and 3/ taking the racket/elbow up and back. This “triple overhead action” is being followed by the positioning footwork making an optimal impact (if possible in the front of the body and slightly on the dominant side) possible. While continuously adjusting to the incoming ball, the feet keep moving before the overhead and thus can’t be in such a calm position like during the service action. Also, the form of the push-off might vary (back foot/front foot), but the general principle of the overhead, controlled unloading of the stored energy into the targeted long-axis pronation (= internal shoulder rotation), ideally of the helix form, remains in the big picture almost the same as with the service. While some of the overheads played off the long deep lobs while running backward might have the impact slightly behind the body, practically the same technique as with the topspin services is being used then.
It’s quite common that many less experienced players tend to underestimate the importance of the overhead and mainly of the precision needed for its execution, despite the sometimes quite big available margins. Some of the typical mistakes are the overpowering of the arm/limb activity as well as the rushing of the entire stroke rhythm often leading to the skipping/reduction of certain elements, either in the “triple overhead action” or in the targeted energy unloading. In my personal opinion, it’s a crucial element in the tennis practice (player development) to realize the close connection of the service and overhead actions. Serena is then taking the overhead very seriously and as can be seen below, the main technical elements around the unloading in her overhead are practically identical with her service action.
This article covers certain aspects of Serena Williams’ overhead/service as well as service/overhead in general only! Further extensive photo galleries and more distinct details about her overhead/service and other strokes as well as about the strokes of other players are available upon a qualified request at drmgb11(at)gmail.com. Some significant details of this kind, necessary for a peak tennis performance as well as for a sustainable tennis training/development in general, are being discussed also in the seminar “TENNIS 3.0 – Future of the Game”, which is available worldwide upon request – www.tennis30.com / www.tennis30.cz
Photos (June 2018) & text (March 2019) copyright by Dr. Martin G. Baroch. Any further publication of either any of the photos and/or texts with the explicit written permission issued solely by the author/copyright owner only!! All instruction provided reflects just the personal opinion of the author and neither the author nor the CPTA accepts any responsibility for potential damages, direct or implied, of any kind!!