The overhead is an important element of an attacking player's game; without it, his or her aggressive tactics will be negated by an opponent with a good lob.

As soon as you see the ball hit high in the air, turn your body sideways and place the arms in a "V" position above the head. It is the same "V" used in the serve (technically, the overhead is a compact version of the serve). Always move for the smash in this position.

I usually have success hitting my overheads by following three basic rules.

* Point to the ball with the nonhitting hand.

* Keep the racket motionless as the ball is dropping.

* Bring it forward and follow through in one motion (see photo).

In a related point to racket preparation, I try never to crowd the net because it makes my opponents' lobs even more difficult to reach.

Good players seem to have similar problems with the overhead. Often they forget to position their feet directly underneath the ball and they try to overhit. Remember that the ball is picking up a lot of speed as it drops. Precise timing and solid contact will provide more than enough power to hit a winner.

Finally, if a ball is hit extremely high, let it drop and smash off the bounce. In either case, try to direct your shot toward the base line and not near the middle of the court.