No backswing on Volleys - Truth or Myth?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by donnyz89, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. donnyz89

    donnyz89 Hall of Fame

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    Now, I'm sure most of the pros here tell the beginners. Keep racket in front of you, no backswing, move to the ball, shift your weight. But yesterday, I worked with a pro on my volley, and to my surprise, he didnt discourage my takeback. I have a slight take back on my volleys, and a lot of the pros discourage me because it causes me to mis-hit. But he said the reason for my mis-hits are not my backswing, its mostly my timing. He said, the "no back swing" rule is more of a myth amongst the coaches because volleys are not easy and when people mis-hit, the only thing to do is shorten the backswing. Telling them "time it better" just wont cut it.

    However, if you watch pros, college players, or even top juniors, most of them will have backswing on their volleys. Pete Sampras would bring it all the back like a backhand slice at times, same with roger federer. It adds the stick to counter the force of the ball coming at you.

    I think it makes sense, because doesnt matter where your backswing is, as long as you get the racquet to the right place at the right time, it makes no difference. Its a matter of timing.

    So in our lesson, he focused primarily on grip, moving forward, eye level to the ball, footwork, and definitly helped my volleys and prevented mis-hits.

    So what are your thoughts, do you truly believe that no takeback is the best way to volley or is just something pros tell beginners who constantly frame shots?
     
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  2. fx101

    fx101 Rookie

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    If you are confident in your volleys, you can swing at them, yet be careful and not exaggerate the motion or your consistency will plummet.
     
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  3. maverick1

    maverick1 Semi-Pro

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    I think you are right that the better players have a swing on their volleys.

    I also agree that timing is a major problem with volleys.

    But where I disagree is - I feel that shortening or eliminating backswing helps greatly with timing. If you just hold your racket where the contact plane should be, there is no timing to worry about. It is only when you move it that you have to time your swing to meet the ball at the right time and place.

    A beginner never needs power for a volley that is not there in the pace of the incoming ball. I would concetrate on making contact with the center of the racket. If you can do that, you are 90% there IMO.
     
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  4. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    You do not swing at an actual volley instead, If you want to put more power on a volley, make a short punch.
     
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  5. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    One pro's backswing is another pro's punch. You have to have some racquet movement in order to get some timing on the stroke. Generally speaking, there is very little back swing on the low volleys but the higher the ball...the more back swing.:cool:
     
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  6. MordredSJT

    MordredSJT Rookie

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    How much of a "backswing" there is to a volley will depend greatly on the type of volley you are hitting and the type of shot that is hit to you.

    From a teaching perspective I have rarely run into the person who I have to cajole into swinging more...that's why you usually hear the constant "don't swing, racket out in front" when people are learning to volley. I happen to highly dislike the whole punch idea though. I can't remember the last time I saw a really good volleyer punch a ball. Catch, reflect, direct...these are words that I think have a much more positive impact in the long run. That combined with a correct grip and good footwork patterns will usually help straighten things out.

    In general, you want to be as compact as you possibly can be while achieving the goal that you want to achieve with that volley.
     
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  7. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    If you're talking about swinging volleys, I truly believe they're garbage. I'd hit a swinging volley on a long ball, but I wouldn't swing volley at the net unless the ball was coming in so slow that I could cram it. No swinging volleys at the net for good volleyers.
     
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  8. HellBunni

    HellBunni Rookie

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    but the bryan bros do swing volley the ones close to the net (and a little higher)
     
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  9. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    Right on.

    And "swingers" will find that as they move up in levels they simply won't have the "time" for all that busy arm motion. So, its a bad habit to get into even if they get away with it when their coach is feeding groove balls or they are playing lower level players.

    All the better net players I've ever played against have quiet compact volleys and the excellent ones have soft hands too
     
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  10. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    I don't remember Bob and Mike using swinging volleys, but I can tell you another pair of siblings who use it and they are by no means considered good volleyers; Serena and Venus Williams.
     
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  11. MordredSJT

    MordredSJT Rookie

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    There's a difference between a swinging volley and a volley that has a bigger preparation and followthrough. One is a groundstroke played generally from the midcourt before the ball bounces. The other is still a volley, just with more of a swinging action to it. The racket head still stays up, the grip is still a volley grip, and the ball is hit flat or with some underspin but not with topspin.

    I've seen the Bryan brothers swing at some volleys...but I don't think I've ever seen them hit a swinging volley. Of course, if I remember correctly, their dad's teaching technique on volleys was to stand them at the net and hit balls at them as hard and fast as possible over and over again. Just because they have the reflexes to take some longer swings at some balls at the net doesn't mean it is the best idea for you to try it.
     
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  12. donnyz89

    donnyz89 Hall of Fame

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    Not swinging volleys. I'm talking standard volleys takebacks. Some pros discourage even a inch of take back. Even if the "punch" idealogy is correct, there is no punch if the racquet is already in front.

    I'm not talking about taking big cuts at the ball. Simply some backswing on the volleys.

    Even doubles players that play at the net constantly against powerful groundstrokes will have a bit of backswing on their volley to get the stick. If you just stick the racquet in front of you and expect the ball to bounce off, not much help there.

    whoever brought up the swinging volley thing obviously didnt read very clearly.

    "no back swing on volleys", I'm sure you all heard this phrase thousands of times from coaches, teaching pros... What do you think of it? Thats ALL I"M ASKING.
     
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  13. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    A little backswing is fine.
     
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  14. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    I think the key with the volley is that the forward motion should be done in way that minimizes change in the racquet face angle. This way it won't matter that much if you are a split-second off on timing, because the ball will still rebound in the same direction. The best volleyers always have linear swingpaths without no change in racquetface angle, even if the swingpath as not perfectly compact.
     
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  15. mucat

    mucat Hall of Fame

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    Good point. And I think this linear forward swingpath is what most of us refer to as a "punch"
     
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  16. donnyz89

    donnyz89 Hall of Fame

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    right on, thats actually the reason for my mis-hits and MANY highschool players I see, is that they swing down on volleys instead of going forward, too much chopping and slicing not enough forward motion. I think thats the key to avoiding mis-hits and have a good volley.
     
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  17. JohnYandell

    JohnYandell Hall of Fame

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    There is a difference between trying to create a backswing and having a backswing. The first move on both volleys is primarily a unit turn with the shoulders. There is some minimal hand movement to position the racket head.

    But without trying, the body will make a small loop to change the direction of the racket when you start the foreswing. Try it on video and see if you can swing forward to the ball without any backswing past the turn. Almost impossible.

    That's my point--a littel backswing will probably just happen. But if you think about taking a backswing and start with independent arm motion then you will have problems--reduced leverage from the shoulders, late contact, mishits etc.

    Yes if your basic elements are solid, you can add some swing on floating balls. Yes the swing volley exists. But for developing technique it's best to visualize a unit turn with the racket at the edge of the torso and go forward from there.
     
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  18. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Great post John. Very good way to explain the back swing (sometimes confused with a regular swing).
     
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  19. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    "No backswing on Volleys - Truth or Myth?"

    Myth.
     
    #19
  20. dennis10is

    dennis10is Banned

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    Completely agreed with this statement and would like to add that the quieter you can make the motion the better. The the balls are coming in fast and you have to move quickly and then slow down be as quiet and still in that fraction of a second will make all the difference. That is why better athletes with superior body control and balance makes better volleyer. The gross motor movements is more easily mastered but it is the ability to quickly compose all of your movements and momentum that is difficult.
     
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  21. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    To the original poster. You are right in your description, and John yandell's response is to the point. With the body turn there will be some "manageable" backswing and then everything else is the timing. In other words some "manageable" take-back does exist on both FH and BH volleys. Since beginners are known for taking exaggerated backswing, we tell them no backswing on volleys just to manage their backswing. Once their take-back is controlled, we add other things to the volley. But by and large you are quite accurate in what you said and what John Yandell corroborated.
     
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  22. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    As long as you 'keep the plane the same' ...that is, maintain the integrity of the racquet face within the backswing element to contact and just beyond, you can indeed take a bigger backswing and not have much difficulty in controlling the volley. However, with most players, the more the racquet is taken back, the more the deflection of the racquet face (compared to the necessary racquet face needed at contact for a particular trajectory) and hence the more critical the timing must be. Such loss exponentially increases the lack of aim and control since the more power added to any slight deviation of desired racquet face will decrease directional control as well as increase the product of the deviation.

    Remember, most volleys are not hit as winners with power. They are winners because of placement. Angles, location between opponents in doubles, open court volley winners, drop volleys, etc., seldom are--or need to be--hit with significant power. The power from taking the ball out of the air, combined with the proximity of the player to the net and to their opponent, is usually ample for many volleys to be hit for winners. Any other volley is a set up volley to either set yourself up for an easier volley or to prevent your opponent from having an offensive edge in a rally.

    All of what I'm talking about is completely different than the swinging volley which is hit with significant force with a completely different purpose and process.
     
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  23. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    Excellent, Tennismastery.

    I like the term, "main the integrity of the racket face". In fact, if permitted, I will be using this term, "main the integrity of the racket face".

    Swinging volleys are different though. In fact I call them "air strokes" as opposed to "ground strokes" because for all practical purposes it is a ground stroke except that the ball is not allowed a bounce!

    Once again Tennismastery you came up with a good description and I have some extra words to bark out in my coaching sessions this evening.
     
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  24. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    Mahboob, Glad the thoughts have been helpful. I use the phrase "keep the plane the same" to help my students with this concept since it sortof rhymes! In fact, even with swinging volleys, groundstrokes, and slice shots, this theme is critical for consistency. That is, reduce the variance of the racquet through the swing by 'keeping the plane the same.' Players who 'roll', 'dish', flick, or slap at the ball will have difficulty maintaining the integrety of the racquet face...so much so that they usually end up softening the swing significantly so-as to not have the balls go out or in the net when swinging with more force with such bad swing components. Thus, the 'dinker' is born!

    Anyway, this is one of my pet phrases that seem to really help players comprehend what they are trying to do with their racquet.

    Glad it was of help! And, of course, you may use these phrases anytime they can be of help!
     
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  25. maverick1

    maverick1 Semi-Pro

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    As a satusfied subscriber of tennisone.com, I respect your advice, but I am a little confused between this advice to hold the racket plane, and other advice I have read to turn the face up through contact like a "waiter tray".

    I have never been able to get the technique right. I basically slice down(slightly) with a soft hand, it works pretty well against topspin, but I have a nightmare of a time volleying against slices. They keep hitting the top of my racket. I KNOW that the slices won't dip down like topspins, and yet I never seem to be able to make the adjustment. Yet most other players seem equally comfortable
     
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  26. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    More true than not. You can swing when it's a super easy shot that you know you're not going to miss. Like in football, you generally want to protect the ball with both arms while running, but I guess it's okay to hold it with only one hand if you've broken away near the end zone.

    On forehand, pros generally don't even take a backswing on high easy ones. The swing looks huge because they go forward so viciously, but there's usually no backswing. On backhands, you're right, on high floaters, they take the racket back pretty far, but NOT their hand; it's matter of cocking the racket back. I can't really hit that shot, a firm high backhand volley hit relatively flat with a lot of stick on it.
     
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  27. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    I'm not sure of anyone's advice of turning the face up through contact like a waiter's tray... This would be perhaps good advice for the drop volley or a drop shot. However, the volley slice is 'through the BACK of the ball' not the bottom of the ball which an open racquet face or waiter's tray might imply.

    As for you hitting the top of your frame a lot, this explanation I offered might be the root cause since a racquet face too open will tend to have balls hit off the top part of the frame more. However, many player's 'perception' to the ball, that is where they think the ball is at contact, isn't where it is in reality. Try intentionally hitting the bottom of your frame for a number of shots. This will get you to understand the controlling relationship of where the ball is to your racquet. After a while of hitting the ball in the sweet spot more often, your perception will begin to be correct to where you now feel the ball on your strings.
     
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  28. tennishack1

    tennishack1 New User

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    The idea of creatting a waiter's tray is a bit absurd. The striking of a tennis ball is a 4 millisecond event. Trying to slice the volley on a standard ball doesn't make sense. You have to control too many variables.
    1. Distance from the net
    2. Angle of the swing downward. ( For every degree you swing down you must open the racket face a degree or visa versa :( )
    3. Speed and spin of the incoming ball while your swinging downward.
    4. Speed of your racket ( when you add underspin the harder you hit the harder to control because the air forces are underneath the ball. Just as topsin makes the ball dip so underspin makes the ball rise.)
    These are just some of the variables and if you think about them and also how they affect each other, you will realize why Rafter was a great volleyer!
    He was always trying to get the racket even with the ball and hitting forward, rather than "competing" with the opponet's shot by swinging down or opening the face dramatically. Some underspin will occur anyway. so just take a short swing and push the racket towards the target.
     
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  29. K3oni

    K3oni New User

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    volleys=short punch...more movement more chance to miss....short and powerfull
     
    #29
  30. AngeloDS

    AngeloDS Hall of Fame

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    This girl on the college tennis team had such a simple but effective volley. Better than all the guys, and even the assistant coach.

    It was so simple; she just kept the racquet in front (no backswing) and just tracked it and could do anything with it; she had like a sixth sense and knew where the ball would be and just have her racquet there. Dropshot volley, punch it for the winner, lay it back. But she always kept that racquet in front and used her body weight when she punched.

    A lot of people tend to pull back to get more power; you're not generating the power. You're using their power so no need for that backswing. Just put your racquet out in front heh.
     
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  31. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    I once played doubles (4.5) against probably the best net man I have ever seen, he volleyed in an awkward style: He held his racquet out front with two hands like a lacrosse stick. Absolutely no backswing whatsoever. No such thing as a backhand or forehand volley. He alternated hands on the handle and the neck based on which side the ball was on.

    Truly amazing hands.

    He hit two handed volleys with more slice and power than anything I've ever seen.

    He missed one volley and I am not certain but I think every other point he hit a volleyed ended the point.
     
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  32. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    You really gotta stop believing that Braden is the prophet of tennis! (I was the head pro at one of his facilities and have witnessed the blind following of people like yourself, without looking further for the facts.)

    Hitting flat requires far better control than hitting with slice. If in the attempt to hit flat, the racquet face is distorted even a small amount, (closed a fraction, the ball will go in the net, opened too much while trying to hit flat--especially on lower balls--the ball will sail long.)

    Slicing the ball allows for the racquet to remain open, so variations when slicing don't create as much of a vector change than the differences of trying to hit flat and having the undesirable action of the racquet being closed slightly or open slightly.

    Slicing the ball takes pace off the ball. While, sure, heavy underspin combined with large pace, creates lift, the concept of slicing a volley with minimal swing takes pace off compared to the same force applied when hitting flat.

    Slice limits the effect that a ball coming to you with spin has when it hits your racquet. Hitting flat balls are more subject to the type of spin the ball has coming to you. A slice will reflect downward off a flat racquet, topspin will reflect up. Hitting slice creates spin you dictate. Certainly a player must learn to control slice as much as anyshot.

    Hitting flat on low balls makes you have to hit softer to keep the ball you need to hit up to clear the net in the court.

    Advanced players all hit some element of slice on their volleys. Check out video clips of players hitting volleys. While they can be seen hitting flat volleys on occasion, it is rare. More importantly, the consequences of hitting flat volleys tends to make players fail to improve their volleys.

    Trust me, I witnessed Braden pros trying to teach volleys for years...the elbows out, hitting flat...changing grips. Not one of their players ever advanced past that of other players taught the right way.
     
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  33. tennishack1

    tennishack1 New User

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    In an attempt to hit underspin, the racquet face is distorted even a small amount, (closed a fraction, the ball will go in the net, opened too much while trying to hit flat--especially on lower balls--the ball will sail long.) This is well known on any shot if the racket is off 1 degree it can vary the ball 2 to 6 feet in any direction.:D

    Why would want to take speed off the ball. The volley as you said is mainly about using the opponets speed so you don't have to hit the ball hard to hit a winner which was a great comment. So ball compresion with a short swing and placement is much better than taking pace off and allowing the opponent to get a look at the pass. And by the way it is also known that it is linear momentum that takes spin off not angular. Angular provides spin I.E. Low to high = Topspin or High to Low = Underspin.

    Anyway there are so many great coaches that are aware of these things not just Braden. But to defame somone who has 4 lifetime achievement awards is not right and not classy.

    But i can agree to disagree on the volley:mrgreen:
     
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  34. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    Oh, by the way did Vic Braden or his system produce any world class player?
     
    #34
  35. tennishack1

    tennishack1 New User

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    You bet! Vic has had all kinds of influence over world class players. Let's not forget Vic used to run the tour, was a television commentator, an instruction editor for tennis magazine and coached tons of players such as the Brian brothers at Coto de Coza. Just as many other world class coaches have. Why would anybody challenge Vic's validity as a coach? We are a bunch of tennis players and I guess some coaches on this board who have way to much time on our hands :rolleyes:
    Vic certainly doesn't have time to be here chatting with us and neither does Nick, or Dennis, or lots of other great coaches. I never called him a prophet but he has done more for the game than any of us have for a certainty and he's a great guy who is not self assuming.:mrgreen:

    Anyway No backswing on Volleys-Truth or Myth ..... Myth
     
    #35
  36. GugaGuga

    GugaGuga Rookie

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    You said it yourself...it's timing.

    Don't get too much inside your own head trying to figure out whether to swing or not. In the moment, your body will react naturally, and it will swing to the extent that is appropriate.

    You sound like the type of player that focuses way too much on your own form. I too made that mistake for many years. Now, I've learned to trust the larger supra-mental process that I'm participating in. You have to learn the Jedi mindset if you want to play good tennis. Your instincts and your natural reactions will work for you a lot better if you learn to get your brain matter out of their way. The more you calculate, the more you mis-calculate.

    Ommmm
     
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  37. onehandbh

    onehandbh Hall of Fame

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    One thing that's helped me out recently in improving my
    forehand volley (and limiting my swing) is remembering
    to tuck tuck my elbow in (and not out like a chicken wing.)
    I'm not really explaining this very clearly... Okay basically, as
    soon as I see a volley coming, I move my elbow slightly left and
    start moving forward and toward the ball as I move the
    racquet in position to hit the volley. Also, I hit my volleys
    with virtually no underspin on anything above the net.
    When I take less of a swing and instead focus on closing
    the net more I can usually hit a better volley and with at
    least as much power vs if I had swung. Especially true and
    slower balls.
     
    #37
  38. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

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    The concept of a backswing

    One thing to remember about any volley: If the player's first movement for a volley involves taking the racquet back to the side, any subsequent shoulder turn will end up taking the racquet further back...and thus, requiring a swing to simply get the racquet back around for desired trajectory.

    Imagine holding the racquet in front of you, centered anticipating a volley at the net. If you first take the racquet back so the strings are facing the ball and desired target, then turn either with a traditional step or even if you just turn the shoulder plane, the racquet will now point to the back fence. This is one of the reasons so many players have difficulty NOT swinging...because they actually HAVE to, just to meet the ball.

    For the typical beginner to intermediate player, such a situation usually requires the player to decelerate the stroke so-as to not over hit the volley. It also helps explain why many players have difficulty with touch and angle volleys. If the racquet face is facing well away from a drop volley or angle volley, the player will have to get the racquet around quickly enough to regain the desired angle...but not have the racquet still moving with too much force for such a shot.

    The key is to either take the racquet back with the unit turn only, or volley using no shoulder turn. In advanced play, you can see both of these situations occur. Advanced players 'set' the racquet angle early. If you do see a top player take a larger swing (which for pros is not uncommon), you usually will see them simply elongate the swing path without compromising the racquet plane significantly. But, when amatures do take a bigger swing, they tend to swing more from the arm, and as a result, distort the racquet face significantly to the point they have to hope the racquet face is perfectly aligned to the desired target and that they don't over swing for such a target.

    Just a couple thoughts on this concept.
     
    #38

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