When you're at net and a lob goes over your head, the scissor kick overhead can be the difference between winning and losing the point. It's a difficult shot to master, because you'll be leaning backward when you jump and kicking one leg forward to maintain your balance, all while you try to execute your swing. But mastering this shot is well worth your time, because once you can hit overheads off almost any lob, your opponents will become frustrated and increasingly desperate to hit a better shot. Here's how to do it.
1. Once the lob is up, turn sideways so that your dominant leg (the right leg for right-handed players) is behind you, raise your racquet, and point your off hand at the incoming ball. As you move backward, take a drop step (or balance step) with your right leg, followed by a crossover step with your left leg, and then another drop step as you prepare to jump. If the ball is deeper in the court, take another crossover step or make adjustments with shuffle steps.
2. When you jump, your momentum will be headed backward. The jump should be a boost to your swing and provide energy as you accelerate toward the ball.
3. As you swing, your right leg springs up and your left leg kicks forward. This will counterbalance your backward momentum and allow you to make solid contact before you land on your left leg, ready to move in for another volley. Ideally, you want to hit a scissor-kick overhead with a lot of margin for error. If you can hit close to the outer third of the court and fairly deep, you’ll keep your opponent off balance and live to see another shot . . . and probably an easier one.
A former ATP professional and instructor at T Bar M Racquet Club in Dallas, Joey Rive is the co-author of Tennis Skills & Drills.