Fundamentals of effective volley

Serve, forehand and backhand. These 3 strokes players practice the most. It is true that serve, forehand and backhand happen almost in every point but players have to keep in mind that learning other skills is also important to play effectively and achieve good results during the tournament. One of the abilities that has to be included in practice session is volley.


Modern tennis is based mostly on baseline shots. At all levels players try use own weapons to dominate the point from the beginning. Most of the time these weapons are serve and forehand so that is why players primarily focus on these skills during practice session. At the same time they neglect other aspects of tennis development which can limit their possibilities in the future while playing against more advanced opponents.


Volley was more popular 2 decades ago when rallies were slower and players didn’t have as good groundstrokes’ abilities as they have today. However this change in playing style doesn’t make volley ineffective. It simply means that to win balls at the net players need better volleying skills that should be practiced every week to guarantee constant improvement.


Being able to finish the point at the net creates new tactical possibilities both in singles and doubles play. Players can put more pressure on the rival and force opponent to show his repertoire of passing shots. Especially at lower levels of performance players don’t practice how to play against player at the net so when this situation happens during the match they make many unforced mistakes.


To become effective net player you have to acquire technical and tactical fundamentals of net play. Here is what you have to add to your weekly practice sessions:


  • Legs

Effective net play starts with your leg. Firstly you have to make a split-step that will improve your reaction time. Secondly you have to make sure that you maintain dynamic position that will help you to quickly move to the next ball. Lastly keep in mind that your position has big impact on your volley’s quality – if you stretch for the ball instead of coming closer to the ball you will miss more balls than you have to.


  • Grip

At the beginning many players start learning volleys using forehand and backhand grips. That’s not the best approach because the higher the level you achieve the more important it is to prepare all volleys using the same continental grip. There is no much time to prepare the shot while answering fast ball so it is necessary to have one grip that will allow player to quickly move the racket to the side and control the shot.


  • Short move

Being at the net means less time for reaction for both players. It puts pressure on the opponent who is mostly in defensive position but it also can make net player miss if he doesn’t have proper automatic technical habits. Players have to learn to take short backswing and avoid excessive follow through after contacting the ball to keep maximum control over the shot. Longer motions create possibility to generate more power but player hitting volley should play with the power of the incoming ball so his priority is to focus on control.


  • Finish in 2 shots

There is no effectiveness in tennis without conscious and right decisions. Players have to understand the situation they are in and develop tactical awareness that will allow them to make quick decisions under the time pressure. Playing at the net requires quick finishes because the longer the rally the more chances to win has player on the baseline. That is why every time player comes to the net he should have a goal to finish the point in maximum 2 shots.


In 21st century there is still a place to successfully incorporate volley into own game. It doesn’t matter if you are man or woman, beginner or pro, kid or adult, you should practice volleys and use them during competition. Keep in mind that the more weapons you have the more dangerous opponent you are so limiting your game just to baseline shots can be helpful but only short-term.