Matches can be won or lost based on a few “big” points, and if you happen to find yourself at the net during those points, you’ll wish you had practiced your tennis volley game just a little more, a little better.
Although players with big, booming groundstrokes have come to dominate singles, the art of volleying is not dead, at least not for the moment. A volley in tennis appears to be very easy and automatic when watching pros play. But, on the other hand, Volleys don’t look so easy when you find yourself at the net, and one suddenly has a tennis ball rushing towards your face.
While players and coaches are less likely to spend time working on volleys these days, having an effective volley game can give you an advantage on the court. Volleys are instrumental not only for singles but also for doubles. If you have a strong net game, you will be able to be more aggressive, shorten points, run less, be less tired and win more points, games, and matches.
This article will cover all the fundamentals of volleys, such as what a tennis volley is in essence and how to hit one with proper technique. You can skip to the section that interests you if you prefer. The article below is structured in the following form:
- Tennis Volley Grip
- Tennis Volley Footwork
- Tennis Forehand Volley
- Tennis Backhand Volley
- Tennis Volley Position
- Tennis Volley Backswing
- Tennis Volley Contact
- Best Tennis Volley Drills
- Best Tennis Volley Tips
What Is A Volley In Tennis?
Volleys are essential to anyone’s net game, and you’ll hit these shots without letting the ball touch the ground. These shots are primarily used to finish the point after successfully moving your opponent around with effective groundstrokes. They’re also used a lot more during doubles matches. Your volley will be classified as either a forehand or a backhand volley, depending on how you hit it.
The main distinction between the volley and the groundstroke is that on the groundstroke, you are attempting to impart speed on the ball, whereas at the net, you are attempting to redirect the incoming speed.
In other words, groundstrokes should be considered “sending” shots, whereas volleys should be considered “receiving” shots. The best way to visualize volleying is to imagine yourself catching the ball, with the racquet head placed behind the path of the incoming ball as if it were a net.
1. Tennis Volley Grip
Finding the proper grip is the first step in hitting a proper volley in tennis. If you don’t have the correct volley grip, you won’t be able to hit clean volleys or be a good net player in doubles or singles.
When you’re at the net, you must be able to react instinctively, which is why using the same grip for both volleys is so important. In addition, you rarely have time to switch grips between forehand and backhand volleys.
If you choose to hit a swinging volley, you can utilize your forehand and backhand groundstroke grips for the first shot and then switch to the continental grip for the next shot. Swinging volleys are mostly used to end points or transition from the baseline to the net.
The continental grip is the best grip to use at the net for both the forehand and backhand volley. The continental grip is similar to holding a hammer. As if you’re aiming for something with the frame of the racket.
Your index finger’s knuckle should be directly on bevel #2. The Continental grip is also ideal for shots that do not require a lot of topspin, such as serves, volleys, slices, and overheads.
When hitting a volley, the wrist’s stability is also important. This grip position aids in your stability. In addition, this allows you to have more control over your stroke.
2. Tennis Volley Footwork
Legs are everything at the net, and you better be quick and agile in your movements. Also, every volley should begin with a split step, followed by a forward or across-the-body step with the opposite leg. For example, a right-handed player will step forward with the left leg and backhand volleys with the right leg on forehand volleys. Finally, you shouldn’t swing harder to get adequate power on your volleys. Rather, use your body to add strength.
Maintain a Slight Bend in Your Knees: When you’re at the net, you should always maintain a slight bend in your knees. This will allow you to change directions more quickly and jump more explosively.
Maintain Your Weight On The Front Of Your Feet: Keep your heels off the ground if possible. Doing so will naturally keep your knees bent and your entire body leaning forward – a fairly aggressive stance.
The Smaller the Step, the Better: Besides the split step, you should try to move in small steps, preferably on your toes, except for one large step when hitting the ball. As a result, you’ll be able to change directions more quickly.
3. Tennis Forehand Volley
The forehand volley is a straightforward movement in which you use only one arm to hit a ball by your dominant side without allowing the ball to touch the ground. Volleys are typically hit by a tennis player while standing close to the net and inside the service box. It necessitates strong hands and quick reflexes.
4. Tennis Backhand Volley
The backhand volley resembles a backhand slice without allowing the ball to touch the ground. A volley, once again, usually occurs when you are standing close to the net. Backhand volleys are always performed on your non-dominant side. Backhand volleys are typically taught as a one-handed shot, but singles players are not uncommon to hit backhand volleys with both hands.
Backhand volleys are essential to your net game because they allow you to shorten points and take time away from your opponent to prepare for his or her next shot.
5. Tennis Volley Position
Volleys are typically played somewhere in the service box area. The goal, however, is to get as close to the net as possible. This is because you have the best chance of winning the point there. In this situation, you must find your neutral position for your body to be ready to redirect the incoming shot.
You take a wide stance and bend your knees in this neutral position. Next, hold the racket vertically in front of your body with your dominant hand. In addition, the other hand reaches for the racket’s throat.
Extend both of your arms forward in the middle so that the racket and arm form a right angle. The racket’s face should be parallel to the court’s sidelines. Keep your focus on the ball from this ready position and point in time.
6. Tennis Volley Backswing
It’s helpful to think of the backswing on volleys as putting the strings behind the ball’s path. In some cases, however, the racquet is placed slightly above the contact point, and the swing has a slight downward trajectory. In most cases, however, placing the strings behind the incoming ball is the best way to go, particularly for beginners.
The upper body rotation occurs through the shoulders rather than the arms. This will assist you in keeping your movement compact. Your racket should never extend past your shoulder line. If this occurs, it indicates that you have gone too far. When hitting an aggressive volley, you should never lose sight of your racket, or you’ll most likely be making contact with the ball too late if you do.
7. Tennis Volley Contact Point
The path to contact is also very short because there is only a very small backswing. The movement towards contact will be very controlled if you set the racquet behind the path of the ball. First, however, it is critical to understand the ideal contact.
On the forehand volley, clean contact should be made in front of the body with the wrist laid back. The contact on the backhand volley is more on the side of the body, with the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and racquet aligned. When hitting the volley, always move forward and not sideways or backward.
Also, your body weight and feet should lean forward and move into the shot. Then, as you hit the volley, shift your weight from your back to your front foot while opening your hips from a closed position to allow your arms to release energy through the racquet into the ball.
8. Best Tennis Volley Drills
Reading about proper volley technique is one thing and going out and practicing requires effective volley drills another. So making dramatic changes to your volley technique during a match is simply not feasible.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite volley drills to help you improve various aspects of well-executed volleys, such as direction, consistency, reflexes, and footwork.
- The Volley Cycle Drill: This is a more advanced volley drill and a great rhythm exercise for volleys. Four players are required to stand on the service line. The coach feeds a ball in. Each player hits in the same direction, one pair always down the line and the other always across the court. For an even more difficult challenge, try this drill with two balls.
- Bryan Brothers Volley Drill: The Bryan Brothers popularized this drill. It only takes two players to move from side to side, practicing short and long crosscourt volleys. It may not be easy at first, but once you get the hang of it, you should be able to maintain a nice flow. In addition, this drill will help you improve your direction, consistency, and reflexes. Keep the following points in mind when working on this powerful volley crosscourt drill; Even if you’re moving laterally, keep your head down. Also, keep your hips as parallel to the net as possible as you move. This is a lateral motion, not a forward one.
- Wall Drill: The wall is one of the most effective tools for improving your volleys. You’re forced to use short, compact swings because you don’t have time to take long backswings or follow-throughs. Keep the following points in mind when working on this drill: Keep your wrist firmly in place. In this drill, we are training strength; however, doing so with a broken wrist is counterproductive. Maintain your weight on your front leg. Get your feet moving. You’ll need to make minor adjustments as you go. Maintain a low center of gravity with your knees bent. Feel a burning sensation in your legs, and don’t pop up as the drill progresses. Keep your head still, but your eyes are always on the ball.
- Touch Volley Drill: Start short again, this time close to the net. Again, perform simple, easy touch volleys to fine-tune your feel and timing. After that becomes second nature, take a step back, then another. You’ll eventually be able to do this while you are on the front lines.
- The One Arm Volley Drill: In this drill, you practice basic volleys by hitting only forehand or backhand volleys while holding your left arm (Or right arm if you’re a lefty) behind your back. This directs your attention to your racket head and hitting arm. You can now work on stabilizing your hitting arm through contact, which is necessary for a great volley!
- Transition Volley Drill: Begin the drill about three feet behind the service line for the player performing the drill. Then, the player delivers three quick volleys on the other side of the net. The first transition volley begins at the starting point on the T line. Then, you quickly move in after hitting your first volley, hit another, move in again, and hit your final volley. By hitting your third and final volley, you should be within 5-6 feet of the net.
9. Best Tennis Volley Tips
There’s Nothing Like A Good Setup: Hitting good approach shots is the easiest way to get an easy volley, so make sure you have bases covered.
Find The Secret Spot: Normally, you should try to hit short crosscourt volleys – not necessarily drop shots, but short ones.
The sooner you start, the Better: Make constant contact with the ball in front of you. The sooner you hit the volley, the more time you take away from your opponent to prepare for his or her next shot, which means that you increase the pressure on them.
Allow your body’s momentum to carry you forward while keeping your arm motion small. Your forward body momentum, combined with a firm wrist and grip, will drive the ball down the court.
One of the most important aspects of volleying is knowing when it is an opportune time to approach the net. Know your opponent’s location on the court, whether they are balanced or off-balance, and if they appear to be comfortable hitting the shot are all clues that you should come into the net.
Volleys are an essential part of any player’s arsenal, regardless of the style of play. Tennis is increasingly being played from the back of the court, but more advanced players must still be able to attack the net to put pressure on their opponents.
Volleys add another dimension to your game, allowing you to change your game plan and present your opponent with more complex challenges. The key to good volleys is to keep things as simple as possible and guide the ball back into court with short swings. Coming the net automatically puts your opponent under pressure by taking time away from him or her, relieving you of the pressure of having to hit huge winners from the baseline. If you can improve your volleys to the point where you are confident at the net, it will make a huge difference in your game and give you more ways to win matches.
We hope you enjoyed this article and that you can now start working on improving your volleys.