View Full Version : Why your volleys suck.

Kana Himezaki
06-11-2005, 07:53 PM
Why your volleys suck.

This is EXACTLY like that "Forehand Consistency" thread
I made, which you should read unless your forehand kicks
total _____. Which it probably doesn't, and you attribute
all your errors with it to that badass guy on the other
side. Or you call him a pusher, and wonder how he
screwed up your entire game which is, of course, absolutely
perfect in practice.

You have no idea how many juniors (annnnnd most others)
wonder why the hell their volleys don't work, and stick to
whacking the hell out of the ball at the baseline.

It's ALL ABOUT YOUR APPROACH. And your position. And in
many cases, your lack of ability to simply "punch" through
the ball in a compact motion. If you think punching is
a bad term, think of it as partially straightening your


The main reason your volleys don't look cool. God, are you
expecting to succeed at the net when you give a normal,
crosscourt shot to the opponent?

"Gosh darn it, they pass me every time!"

It's not that hard to pass someone when they give you an open
court, don't force you into anything, and give you lots of time
to set up.

You want to approach when your opponent has a difficult time
hitting the ball. Like when they can hardly get to it, or have
to hit off their back foot.

Make your volley as easy as possible, then fricking put it away.
It's damn HARD to volley back balls they're blasting at you or
are sort of low. That should NEVER, ever happen, unless you
screwed up your approach. You're approaching at the wrong
time. Limit angles, and force a weak return you can put AWAY.

So, if you want it even simpler:

-Aim down the line. Almost always.
-Only approach on xcourt shots...if you absolutely know
it's going to be hard as hell to return.
-GET A WEAK BALL BACK. You're winning, you blast it
down the line, it's a floater...PUT IT AWAY TO THE OPEN

Easy. Now you're already almost there, and you won't try
approaching on your crappy balls anymore.


Well, it's going to be awfully hard to volley if your racquet
is goddamn HANGING AT YOUR SIDE. Or held in front of your
stomach like you're holding a fricking baby.

Your racquet isn't as cute as a baby, anyway. It's a
sort of disgusting baby, if it was. Which means you
HOLD this strange, racquet shaped baby AWAY FROM YOU.
Hold it away in front.

I particularly like this disgusting baby analogy. Hold it
way out in front of you, ready to move it to either side.

Then I guess you have to sort of pretend you're giving the
baby to the ball, LOL, for the sake of the analogy. It's
certainly more "humane" to do than imagine you're letting
the baby absorb the blow for you.

I've tested this awkward analogy on teenage players
and older ones, they sure haven't forgotten it. That's
EXACTLY what you want to do when teaching.

This moves me directly into...


The disgusting baby I discussed in the "ready position" section
still fits here. Read that if you have no clue about what the
hell I'm talking about.

You want to give the baby to the ball, of course you do. The
motion is sort of like catching the ball...with a baby.
Try catching something.

Your arm moves outward a bit to get it, right? It doesn't move
back against your body, that's just uncomfortable. Neither do
you swing the baby or punch forward as far as you can, you're
not throwing the baby at the ball.

So you're sort of moving through the ball with the racquet
(or baby, if it helps you to think of it that way).

SUMMARY: You're pushing through the ball slightly with a compact
motion. Not swinging at it, or holding the racquet

Also, there is the huge topic of using your LEGS when volleying.
How often has your coach or someone else told you to step into
the ball with the opposite foot (volley on the right, left foot,
volley on the left, right foot) when you're making contact?

Let's face it, when your catching something, or letting the baby
absorb the ball's momentum, you DON'T just stand there. That's
awkward balance when you reach forward a bit to catch the ball.

Go back to catching something again. When it's in front of you,
you step into it naturally. SAME THING with volleying.

Most of the pace on the ball in volleys comes from stepping in.
Pushing through the ball slightly takes care of the depth and
makes sure you don't make the ball pop up.

So, you're stepping in and doing everything else, but your volleys
STILL suck? It could be that you step in too early. You step in
WITH the volley, just like when you catch. You don't step in,
wait, and just block the ball.


It's good for low balls, normal balls, even high balls because you're volleying, not swinging, and overheads. Plus with it you get the natural underspin (extra depth) and you don't switch grips for forehand and backhand volleys. You take a different grip, and those low balls will be netted most of the time. Plus different grips make the transition from FH to BH volleys harder.

It's over. That covers almost everything with volleys. If you
actually do everything in here, you probably don't suck at the
net. If you DO still suck, you're probably not actually doing it,
or your reaction time and brain are too slow to do anything, period.
Which I doubt.

And...don't tell me that baby analogy was brutal and uncalled for,
I know it. But when helping people, especially preteens to teenagers,
as most of the people reading this probably are, I don't think
there's a better way to visualize it and get the point across.

And get them to laugh at the same time. If you still think I'm
a horrible person, at least the analogy helped improve yourself.

Whoo whoo. I'm not sadistic, I swear.

Kana Himezaki
06-11-2005, 08:05 PM
And, on a quick note, I wrote all this while half asleep and
rushing the whole thing even then because I was going to
go shopping. <3 Abercrombie, baby. I wasn't tired then.

That might explain how the hell I came up with a disgusting
baby analogy in the first place.

06-11-2005, 08:10 PM
I think John Yandell needs to pay you write some of his articles.

Kana Himezaki
06-11-2005, 08:19 PM
I think that's the first compliment I've gotten from you. :D
That's a good thing.

I pump these out quickly, it wouldn't be hard. When looking
at the samples and stuff on tennisplayer.net though, it looks
like the articles are beyond the stuff I'm writing. Plus they're
all big names. All of them. x.X

I just attempt to simplify it...and write. It's long, but that's
because I have a lot to say or want to spend extra time
getting the point across. I don't think any part at all should
take time to understand.

06-11-2005, 08:23 PM
I think that's the first compliment I've gotten from you. :D
That's a good thing.

Wow you're too young to understand sarcasm.. LoL..

Just playing..

06-11-2005, 08:25 PM
Hey, just a suggestion since volleys are my trademark. On the approach, it's best if you hit a deep shot or a cross court at a harsh angle with some topspin. Either way your opponent will be too focused on getting it back over to have the time to set up for a lob. Practice the split-step, then practice the cross-court topspin and the deep baseliner.

On the actual volley, follow what Kana said about not taking a swing after the contact. Also, if while you're in ready position you switch over to your "hammer grip", you'll have an easier time transitioning to a backhand volley if necessary. Thus, you wont windshield wiper your backhand volleys. :)

06-11-2005, 08:30 PM
Some things you didn't mention that are key to volley:
- properly timed split steps
- moving into the ball instead of letting it come to you.. when you wait it'll be low and you'll have a tough volley
- take the outside of the ball for a consistent volley
- hit it will slight underspin
- type of grip used
- open racquet face

And really a volley isn't something that is easily explained on a message board or article. You need visual demonstration. I think the variations in a volley are a lot more complicated than the forehand or backhand.

Kana Himezaki
06-11-2005, 08:31 PM
TwistServe - I wouldn't be surprised if you were, I'm HORRIBLE with sarcasm. I don't notice it unless it's really, really obvious, and it's harder for me to tell online. Unless it's really, really, really obvious.

Meg - Exactly. Deep down the line is the usual approach. Sharp crosscourt is only effective because it's such a forcing shot, you're almost definitely not going to get a good return if it's set up at all.

As for the ready position, hammer grip? I think that's Eastern, although I'm not exactly sure. It's a term I've only heard online. Volleys should pretty much be kept
continental, I think I forgot to mention that.

I'll cover it here.

Some people go slightly Eastern for forehand volleys, that's fine. Full eastern though is generally a no, although it's manageable when you're switching over.

Semiwestern, Western grips - NOT AT ALL. It's pretty hard to switch over between backhand and forehand volleys fast, plus you almost always won't achieve the depth and consistency available with the continental.

06-11-2005, 08:32 PM
Twist - Basically, what Meg said minus the underspin because personally I don't think you should use it ALL the time.

Kana Himezaki
06-11-2005, 08:33 PM
Some things you didn't mention that are key to volley:
- properly timed split steps
- moving into the ball instead of letting it come to you.. when you wait it'll be low and you'll have a tough volley
- take the outside of the ball for a consistent volley
- hit it will slight underspin
- type of grip used
- open racquet face

Split-steps are great, but people generally know about those or have them. The thread was intended for huge changes that they're not doing, period.

Moving into the ball is stepping in. That's covered, sorry if it wasn't clear.

Plus, with the continental grip, moving through the ball NATURALLY creates underspin. I didn't think it was a good thing to mention, people start thinking they need to brush under and begin to chop under the ball for underspin. Not an effective volley at all.

Outside of the ball is usually natural as well with a continental grip, especially when you're holding it in front of you. As you should. Someone will eat your babies if you don't.

06-11-2005, 08:33 PM
^Basically, what Meg said minus the underspin because personally I don't think you should use it ALL the time.

Play some 5.5s and see how much underspin they put on their volley. My coach who plays open said his volley used to be straight punch volleys with no underspin.. He got passed so many times.. He than developed a sharp sliced volley on his forehand and backhand where he could hit it on the outside and inside of the ball.. His net game has improved drastically.

Yes when you can put the volley away then punch it .. if you cant, than put the underspin.

06-11-2005, 08:37 PM
A sliced volley is esentially a slice. And Kana's right it does naturally produce underspin.

Kana Himezaki
06-11-2005, 08:39 PM
As I said, some underspin comes naturally with the grip.

Also, simply pushing through the ball and stepping in generates a lot of depth. Underspin is great, but people begin to get too caught up in it, especially if they're just trying to make their net game better.

The tips in the original post will make 90% or more of people's (who have problems volleying) volleys a LOT better, and manageable for attacking or easily putting away balls.

Also, outside of the ball comes naturally. Hitting on the inside is almost always not recommended. You usually rotate your shoulder by an extra amount to do this, which is sacrificed time.

A properly done volley with a continental grip pretty much goes naturally crosscourt, because you're hitting on the outside of balls. ALMOST all the time, this is what you WANT. In singles, you almost always approach down the line. Crosscourt is to the open court. In doubles, you're hitting it at the opposing net player, or down the T, which is natural and easy to do when hitting the outside of the ball.

Maybe don't think of it as a punch, more to do with pushing through the ball while still keeping your elbow bent.

Also, a tip is to keep your racquet face slanted slightly upwards when pushing through. This helps with the underspin.

Sorry I forgot to add these in the original, but once again, I was rushed. Everything in the original post is the most important, by far, anyway.

06-11-2005, 08:42 PM
Hitting on the inside is almost always not recommended.

That's fine in practice but you have to be able to hit both the outside and inside volleys. If you watch the pros play, most their volley winners are hit inside. The change of direction volley is tough but it must be done unless you want to hit back to your opponent and let them pass you.

Improving the volley means you need to know WHERE to hit the ball. You can't always hit it on the outside this inside volleys must be practiced as well.. WHy would anyone recommend against such?

Kana Himezaki
06-11-2005, 08:48 PM
I'm not saying it's recommend against all the time. However, almost all of your volleys are going to be hit on the outside naturally.

On down the line shots, your approaches, volleying cross court is ideal. It's also fine for the majority of the people reading this, who want it for their doubles in volleying easily down the T or putting away that weak ball to the side.

Hitting on the inside is more preparation, more turning. Then it's the normal motion. That's fine.

Which brings back the original post, and simply getting used to pushing through the ball and getting into position.

The series of threads I'm posting are intended for quick, large fixes in the majority of the people here and playing the game. I want to allow them to be able to HIT the volley well before worrying and confusing them with inside and outside.

Most of the people reading the original post probably got lost when they read the later posts.

Maybe I'll make another series of threads when I've gone through the basic "trouble-shooting" ones on improving it more, more advanced stuff, and tips nobody ever tells you.

06-11-2005, 08:49 PM
Be sure to name your threads.. "Why your volleys suck Part (1)", "Why your volleys suck Part (2)", etc

06-11-2005, 08:52 PM
the title of your topic is rather harsh, but overall, your post was very useful Kana.

one more thing to add. watch for weaknesses in your opponent's groundstrokes and approach to their weakest groundstroke. that gives you a most likely weaker reply and an easier putaway.

one more thing, make sure to keep the racquet head above your wrist/hand.

bleh, some more tips:

-try to keep the racquet in front of your chest when you volley, it gives you a more solid and consistent contact point.

-the power in the volley comes from the step, not the arm/racquetwork

-make sure to put your weight in the shot/right direction. you dont want to volley a ball on your right and step to your left

btw, i think you are totally sadistic...

Kana Himezaki
06-11-2005, 08:53 PM
Hopefully this thread helped people like the other one.

The analogy was easy to get, I hope that works. I actually looked over my post for once, because of the baby analogy stuff. Originally, instead of "giving the baby to the ball", it was filled with "letting the baby take the blow for you" and "letting the disgusting racquet baby absorb as much shock as possible".

LOL. I decided that was too brutal.

As for the extra threads, I have plenty to say for those, too. I'll start on the inside-volleys, touch volleys, etc. in one of those.

For now, I'm planning on just writing a thread for backhand fixes and the serve. Maybe one on fitness and muscles if I feel I actually want to.

That's an "if". Would you want me to write about anything in particular...?

Finchy - The post was intended for basic fixes in the stroke. Your points are useful as well, but I want people to have confidence in actually doing their volleys first without flailing at them.

The thread name was harsh, but it'll get the views. Plus, it's often true.

I'm not actually sadistic, but it's hard not to be when I'm writing about ugly volleys. :D I build my whole game around mine. :P

edit:: (or second edit, because I added the finchy part after I posted)

Keep in mind most of the "bad words" or strange connections are simply to get the point across to the reader. Nobody's going to actually remember it without checking back frequently if I talk normally.

Whatever let's it get ingrained in your head...that's ideal coaching.

06-11-2005, 09:00 PM
meh, i guess i could do some followups (if you allow it of course) on your topics and go a bit deeper into the advanced tips. u know, some tips to use after they have followed all of your sadistic instructions of volleying with an ugly baby... lmao. jk of course.

06-11-2005, 09:07 PM
ohh, i was just kidding about the sadistic ugly baby and such, but i was serious about doing followup topics on yours.

Kana Himezaki
06-11-2005, 09:10 PM
LOL. Using an ugly baby DOES sound sadistic, that's no problem. I swear, I'm not an abusive baby-killer in real life. I don't eat them, either. O.o

On follow-up topics, it's possible. I'm planning on writing one myself, maybe soon since I've found reason to do it before moving on to backhands and other stuff.

Maybe I'll write it, then I'll email it to you and you can add whatever you want at the end. So sort of a joint thing. :D

06-11-2005, 09:15 PM
totally cool dude. lmao. and dont worry about the crappy grammer and no caps on my posts, ill fix that in these articles i guess we will write.

06-12-2005, 03:09 AM
Also, I've been told to keep the wrist firm. This is much harder to do on the forehand side than the backhand side, but a firm wrist will help to add pace to your volleys and to keep them from popping up.

Also, on low volleys, make sure to bend your knees. Don't just stand up straight and move your racquet, like I see some lazy players do.

06-12-2005, 03:43 AM
Get a hold of Pete Collins' video series, "Successful Doubles." If you don't want to purchase the series (Now in DVD) for $69.65 plus shipping, just purchase volume #2 on volleying, poaching, and overheads. I was used in his demos at a recent clinic, and he makes volleying simple. As he puts it, Great volleyers, don't have great hands, they have great feet. Pete himself makes volleying look so simple on the courts.

Kana Himezaki
06-12-2005, 06:09 AM
The great feet thing is true. Volleys are all about setting it up and getting into position. I might take flames for this, but Sampras never had great hands or touch compared to McEnroe, Federer, etc. But he was always ready to approach, knew how to, and made everything work for him, especially with his serve.

A firm wrist comes with simply pushing through the ball. The wrist should not be used during the actual motion much at all.

06-12-2005, 06:19 AM
I thought the disgusting baby analogy was brilliant.

06-12-2005, 07:16 AM
Great thread on volleys, Kana!

I think I'll add a link to Mahboob Khan's articles on volleying from procomparetennis.net.

And, just for cross-referencing's sake, some older threads from this board about...

Volleying problems:

Volleying technique:

06-12-2005, 07:19 AM
the one thing that helped me with my volleys the MOST was not letting the racket head drop below the wrist.

I remember bbill always writing this in his posts.

Now its a bit easier to hit driving sidespin/underspin volleys and way easier to volley in general.

06-12-2005, 07:20 AM
My volleys suck because I only hit one about every fifth match.

(But thanks, anyway. ;) )

Tennis Psycho
06-12-2005, 12:01 PM
Thansks Kana!! Volleys were the worst part of the game and now I have gotten better at it!

Kana Himezaki
06-12-2005, 12:04 PM
the one thing that helped me with my volleys the MOST was not letting the racket head drop below the wrist.

I remember bbill always writing this in his posts.

Now its a bit easier to hit driving sidespin/underspin volleys and way easier to volley in general.

Underspin volleys come natural, sidespin shouldn't happen too often.

And yeah, that's with the disgusting baby analogy. You hold it out in front of you away. When your racquet head is below the wrist, you're not in ready position period. You're letting the racquet slouch. Holding it in front of you, ready to "let the baby absorb the blow on either side" encompasses your tip. :D

Tennis Psycho - Good. Yay!

06-12-2005, 01:01 PM

Fundamental volleying technique

06-12-2005, 06:06 PM
Any help for the people out there who hit volleys with the frame of their disgusting baby (me)?

06-12-2005, 07:14 PM
Read the reference posted by Marius. Ignore all the bullcrap and read BB's post. Pay particular attention to the fact that the volley is a shoulder stroke, not elbow or arm or wrist. It is also a compact stroke - you don't stick your arms out unnecessarily. Practice it!

06-12-2005, 07:18 PM
Read the reference posted by Marius. Ignore all the bullcrap and read BB's post.

Nice one! ... When all else fails, listen to the guys with the most experience.. 20+ years of playing the game has to mean something... Do you want a doctor with 20 years experience operating on you.

06-12-2005, 07:26 PM
Screw off, TwistServe. Post your diatribes elsewhere, not in the tips section. You are wanted here like the plague.

06-12-2005, 07:30 PM
Screw off, TwistServe. Post your diatribes elsewhere, not in the tips section. You are wanted here like the plague.

Well because you said so I think I will leave...

... hmm actually NOT.. Please keep your immature languages to the rants and rage forum. This is a tips forum and debating about tips is allowed. However, telling someone to screw off.. That's for a different time and place.