One of the more difficult shots in tennis ...

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Davis937, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    Ok, please try not to laugh ... but am I wrong in thinking that the FH volley is actually one of the more difficult shots in tennis to master ... to really master ... yes, I agree that it's a fairly easy shot to learn ... however, it is also one of those shots that tends to break down (for many of us quite easily) during crucial moments of play at the net (especially fast paced doubles action at the net ... but even S&V in singles) ... I see a lot of players ... even the "A" players on our courts ... struggle with this shot ... it's amazingly easy to muff the FH volley ... what are your thoughts on this ... thanks in advance for your comments!
     
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  2. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

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    I agree completely. What's worse is that it looks like it should be an eazy put away so when you miss it, it makes you feel worse. Usually muffs are caused by taking the eyes off of the ball.
     
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  3. ReopeningWed

    ReopeningWed Semi-Pro

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    Easily one of the harder shots. The backhand volley's actually easier to hit, because your entire body is already naturally behind it.
     
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  4. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    I agree ... the backhand volley is significantly easier to hit than the FH volley ... yes, it's much easier to volley the ball in front of your body ... more difficult on the FH side.
     
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  5. Cross-court

    Cross-court Rookie

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    Try an overhead backhand. Or backhand overhead. Don't really know what it's called.
     
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  6. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    backhand overhead. conventially thought of as the toughest shot. forehand volley low on list of toughest.imho
     
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  7. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    So why do so many players struggle much more with the BH volley?
     
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  8. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

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    I think people struggle with the BH volley because their footwork is too slow or not correct. I too struggle with the FH volleys, not sure why but they are a thorn in my side that I plan on removing this season.
     
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  9. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Professional

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    The one's I've noticed (including myself), usually struggle because they swing too much. It's just too tempting to take a big swing. You've got your weak hand pulling the racket back, you've hit a number of slice backhands with a long swing, and it's such a natural swing to go for. Even those with good technique get tempted to overswing.

    The forehand volley is not a natural swing, especially on those high balls (too low to hit an overhead). So, those with good technique are less likely to overswing because there's not a natural temptation to do so.
     
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  10. origmarm

    origmarm Hall of Fame

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    I've always found this a tougher shot to hit well consistently. It's easy to learn but it requires good footwork to get yourself in the correct position so you don't "jam" yourself. The lower the volley the tougher it is as you have to keep the head up and incorporate a significant knee bend. The backhand smash is similar in that if you're not careful you jam the motion against your body.
     
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  11. Thomas Crown

    Thomas Crown New User

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    to me, it's the hardest. if there's significant pace on the ball coming at you, then it's much easier. however, for a ball that's just sitting there, not high enough to be an overhead, and not low enough to take a decent full swing, the FH volley for me is the toughest shot there is. the BH overhead, for me, is actually probably the easiest.

    the BH volley is so much more natural. i actually read somewhere a long time ago that the backhand motion is 'natural' whereas the forehand motion is 'unnatural'. that may have somethign to do with it.
     
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  12. forehandshanker

    forehandshanker Rookie

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    I've always found my FH volleys to be weaker than the BH volleys, because the strike zone for an effective BH volley is bigger.

    Even if you get your feet in the right position and you're using a continental grip, you have to lay your wrist back in order to control the volley and be conscious of trying to get the racquet (more or less) perpendicular to the ground. McEnroe is one of the few who can actually control his FH volleys while his racquet is parallel to the ground.
     
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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    For those who occasionally struggle with the forehand volleys....
    Conti grip with an EFH flavor! Stroke THRU the ball, don't chop at it, with a LONG forward stroke and LONG followthru, to account for wierd spins, hard slices and topspins. Key is long strike zone, since you're close to net and can't time the shot perfectly.
    Same grip, bh volley, you turn your shoulders MORE, you take a longer backswing and forward swing, and you get more body into the shot. For really fast incomers, you block it with the BACK of you hand, as flat as you're close to net.
    That's the choice of grip for Edberg, Cash, Rafter, and Sampras on volleys.
     
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  14. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    It has to do with the muscles in our arms responsible for pronation and supination.

    Very few hit a slice forehand, while most can hit a slice backhand.

    Our muscles are developed for pronating the forehand groundstroke.

    And no one practices volleying even close to 5% of the groundstrokes they practice.

    So if you want a better forehand volley, you have to practice it with a coach, hitting partner or ball machine hitting several hundred balls at least a few times every week. Not just standing there at the net, but hitting it on the run.
     
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  15. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Haha I'm actually pretty damn good at this shot TBH.
     
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  16. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    It's much easier to hit a proper backhand volley when you don't use your feet because you're hitting it with the front shoulder and the arm naturally extends out in front of your body on the backhand side.

    On the forehand side your really have to use your legs more and position better since it's harder to reach out in front from the back shoulder. With proper footwork I don't think the forehand volley is that much harder or different than the backhand volley. Without the footwork it's much more difficult.
     
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  17. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    What he said, pretty much...

    ...think also about your starting point, which is a ready position where you're somewhat flexed, hips and shoulders over the feet, racket head up (you can always bring it down for a low volley, if it starts low, it's hard to bring it up quickly for a high volley) and racket head out in front. If the racket head is out in front, when you turn your shoulders, for either side, doesn't matter, the racket face will line up pretty well with a good contact point (out in front). If the racket head isn't out in front in the ready position, when you turn your shoulders, it's much more likely that the racket face will end up behind the optimum contact point.

    From the ready position, the first move is to turn the shoulders. Doesn't matter whether it's a forehand or backhand. The standard advice is "get the racket back." Just think about getting the shoulders turned and the racket will come back as much as it's supposed to. As Dave Hodge, one of my former coaches and an ATP player for two years used to say, "The best volleyers in the world take very little backswing...and they take too much backswing."

    If you turn your shoulders, that's all the backswing you'll ever need. In addition, turning the shoulders winds up the torso, and when it unwinds for the stroke, presto, you get plenty of stick on the ball and lots of control, as opposed to "arming" the ball, which gives you neither. Turning the shoulders (or, you can think of it as rotating the trunk) is a good thing on groundies, too, for another reason: When you turn the shoulders, your eyes naturally swing toward the contact point for the shot. When you don't turn the shoulders, most likely you're looking at your opponent, hoping he or she falls down before the ball comes over the net, or at somebody in the crowd, or at the lovely patterns of the leaves on the trees behind the court. From the ready position, start by turning the shoulders...you'll be glad you did...and after the stroke, it's back to the ready position again...I know, you just hit a winner, but what if your opponent golfs the ball back somehow? Better to be ready than sorry...
     
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  18. Manus Domini

    Manus Domini Hall of Fame

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    I find the backhand overhead much easier to use than the forehand volley. Actually, I find the forehand volley to be my least favorite shot. too far behind me for effectiveness.
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Mag, read Skiracer's post about staying early on the FH volley.
     
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  20. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    Yeah ... I really have to agree with TC ... it just seems a little more "awkward" to use a FH volley vs the BH volley ... also, I tend to volley better on the FH side if the ball is hit at/towards me with good pace ... more of an instictive reaction shot (not too much thinking ... that's when I tend to get myself in trouble).
     
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  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Read and adopt post 17.
    It will cure you bad forehand volley.
     
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  22. athiker

    athiker Hall of Fame

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    Excellent post(s). I of course have heard of the importance of shoulder turn and limited backswing with the volley, but never connected both with "all the backswing you need" and "your eyes naturally swing towards the contact point". Gives me a new take on the "unit turn".
     
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  23. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Coolness...

    ...LeeD is the man. I think he and I should select some of our Best Hits from our postings and put together a book called The World (of Tennis) According to LeeD and Skiracer55.

    In the meantime, even if you don't ski, for some Rare Wisdom and Big Laughs, study the following carefully:

    http://www.rmmskiracing.org/snownews/SnowNews-2003Feb.pdf

    http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles/RMalm-2001-10-DayJob.pdf

    http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles/RMalm-2006-03-Goals.pdf

    http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles/RMalm-2006-03-Hotbox.pdf
     
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  24. sc0tt2288

    sc0tt2288 Rookie

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    well i just have to i can hit a slice forehand great but when it comes to a slice backhand well thats a whole different story hahahaha...... its one thing i have a problem with but to me a forehand slice is wwwwwaaaayyyy easier
    :)
     
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  25. Slazenger07

    Slazenger07 Banned

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    Backhand Overhead. That shot is easy to me, I almost never miss it, I can hit it hard also but I am good at tennis...it requires good timing, a strong shoulder turn, and a good wrist snap, o and alot of practice!
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2010
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  26. Slazenger07

    Slazenger07 Banned

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    But to the OP question the forehand volley takes some getting used to because it does not feel as natural as the backhand volley, I feel it is easy to hit well now but I didnt always feel this way.

    The key is to do less than youre doing with it now. You want the racquet head up, wrist firm, and you want to meet the ball in front of you, dont slice it down unless the shot is a floater, if its coming with any pace at all just get in front of it and block it using a Continental grip. Simplicity is the key to a great forehand volley.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2010
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  27. SirSweetSpot

    SirSweetSpot Banned

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    So I hear one coach tell me to hit and step...and another coach tells me to step and hit.

    Is it just a matter of the timing on a particular fh volley? Or should I always try to step and hit? Or hit and step?
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    NEITHER is important.
    What IS important is to turn shoulders, for all the takeback you need, then come forward with your stroke, watching the ball, hopefully.
     
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  29. Blake0

    Blake0 Hall of Fame

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    I see a lot of players take the racket far to back on volleys. For some players, i notice the harder the ball comes at them, the bigger backswing they take. Weird. Then there are players who take huge backswings on floating balls, and miss into the net or long.

    The main problem is catching the ball beside them. All your volleys want to be caught in front of you with minimum backswing. On floaters, you can take a bit bigger backswing, but not further then beside you.
     
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  30. paulfreda

    paulfreda Hall of Fame

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    I think the FH volley is hit too early by most people.

    So much advice is given to hit it out front.
    If you try to hit it out front like the BH volley the wrist is in a very unnatural position.
    Let the ball come back to your side [after your shoulder turn] and it will be much easier to hit.
     
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  31. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    My experience is completly opposite. Most of my and friends' FH volley errors come from being too late.

    Hit it out front is credible because it allows more time and more distance to punch and slice. Hit it at the side might be too late and lack of room for slicing. Wrong or right I don't know, i'd go by the Bryan bro's style. Cheers.
     
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  32. sennoc

    sennoc Guest

    Very bad advice.

    So what is important, Davis937?

    The answer is a bit complicated, but I hope you'll forgive me my primitive English.

    The most important thing is a rigid structure of your arm and body. This kind of structure is very popular, especially in martial arts. You can see it here (at the bottom). Hand is straight, line between your palm and the centre of mass of your body is perpendicular to the line of shoulders. In tennis this structure is usually a bit different, because you have a racquet in your hand. So, the line between the centre of your racquet's head and centre of your mass should be perpendicular to the shoulders.

    As you can see, biomechanics (was there any? ;) ) gives you an answer, why do you hit volleys "in front of you". If a ball is on the left or right, you should rotate this structure - that's why many people say "turn your shoulders".

    So, first advice: build a rigid mechanical structure.

    Now there are two possibilities.

    Volley is a unique shot in tennis, because it's is common that you change your contact point, depending on the situation. You should always go just into the ball, along the direction of its flight. That's the best situation: you have rigid structure of arms and body, ball is perfectly before you (ball, centre of racquet's head and centre of your mass are in line), you slightly move your racquet. You do not need to turn shoulders in this situation, just hit the ball and voila! - what a winner ;)

    Unfortunately, usuallly it's not possible to be exaclty on the path of flying ball and contact points are somewhere on the left or right. That's not the best situation but you can minimize probability of mistake here. How? Build as rigid structure as you can and rotate it to hit the ball on the left or right. That's why you turn your shoulders and "hit in front" (of you, in your own frame of reference!).

    To make easy things easier:

    - if you have time, hit the ball as soon as possible (your shoulders do not rotate in this case).

    - if you do not have time and the ball is on the left or right, build as rigid structure as possible, turn it and the racquet's head "will choose" the best contact point.

    Next advice: do not swing. You do not have to, your structure is rigid.

    Next advice: slice agressively. If your structure is rigid, slicing is natural and gives you more control.

    Next advice: if you want to slice, move the head of racquet above contact point - you have to have place to produce slicing motion. It's a bit stupid to hit the ball and slice after the contact...

    Next advice: there are two kind of volleys: in place (both feet on the ground) or in motion. First ones are typical for doubles, second ones are typical for singles. If you hit a volley in the run, you should hit before your front leg touch the ground. Very important, fundamental rule! It guarantees that your centre of mass will move fluently at the moment of stroke. If your foot lands at the contact, COM shakes, if your foot lands before, COM is still not stable.

    The last advice: read carefully my post, then find a match with Davydenko and watch carefully his bad volleys (in replays). Then do the same with Federer. You will have a lot of fun.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2010
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  33. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    ^^^what the.. ? This guy makes less sense then anyone. Use a rigid structure..? That's like saying hit the ball square on the racquet. Or don't miss when you swing at the ball.. haha.

    Anyway I could use more pop in my volley's I hit them "okay" most of the time but I find its not enough pace on em and the opposition can return then alot of times.

    I used to think my volley was my best shot but now that I have gotten a bit better its not so great in doubles. In singles because there is so much room - low speed volley's are okay. But it doubles there is almost always someone around..
     
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  34. sennoc

    sennoc Guest

    I thought that was obvious - there are no static structures in tennis. We play in motion, everything changes, structures are dynamical. But still can be rigid - or not.

    Once again: you are so smart that I want to see your real knowledge behind words. Show me your movies.
     
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  35. downdaline

    downdaline Professional

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    Hehe, call me weird, but im more comfortable with the forehand volley than the backhand volley.

    Probably because i did a lot of a squash in before I switched over to tennis, because the stroke motion for the tennis forehand volley is a very similar punching stroke like the squash forehand drop volley.

    Just my opinion. Maybe those who want to improve forehand volleys should try a little squash?
     
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  36. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    My backhand volley has been floaty lately. My forehand volley needs work too.
     
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  37. paulfreda

    paulfreda Hall of Fame

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    Hitting back near your body and being late are two different things.
    Yes, if you are slow to react, you will not hit a good shot.
    But hitting back by the body puts the hand in a more natural position and leads to more consistent results.

    BTW, this is true only for balls above the net. For low balls, hitting in front is not a strain on your hand and arm if you open the face and place it.
     
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  38. SirSweetSpot

    SirSweetSpot Banned

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    Me too...I just have to keep remembering to watch the ball TO CONTACT and to get my racquet head ABOVE the path of the incoming ball (high BH volleys).
     
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  39. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I just saw Verdasco warming up with the volley. Interesting to note, although the ball traveled a short distant from opponent to his racket which means he could clearly track the ball without grossly turning his head sideway, he turned his head to the side, ie contact point, every single time. It seems like to me that would cause some lose of vision tracking and upperbody stillness, but apparently that's what he did. I'm gonna try it.

    Here's a clip of Fed also doing the same thing:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2P1FTkp7SE
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
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  40. SirSweetSpot

    SirSweetSpot Banned

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    That's because each of us have a dominant eye...he's lining up his stronger eye to the ball.

    You can find out which is your dominant eye by putting like a paper towel/toilet paper roll in front of you, close one eye, and look through the tube and focus on a target area. Then do the other eye. Whichever view DOESN'T shift is your dominant eye. Most right handers are right eye dominant (80%)...but this isn't always the case...some are cross-dominant.

    Also good to know for your serves...you might need to close/open your stance more than you normally do so your dominant eye is more in line with your toss.

    This is also very important for billiards players to know so they can line up the dominant eye over the cue.
     
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  41. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I don't know. I thought they (Verdasco & Fed) were using saccadic vision (user SA would know more). They track the incoming shot, then roughly before contact point they shift their vision ahead to the contact point and "see" and hit the shot better, ie not late. True?
     
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  42. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    I have a difficult time discerning from video clips ... but ... does Roger Fed volley with a continental grip ... or ... is he one of those volleyers who changes volley grips depending on the situation and/or the type of shot hit to him ... if anyone knows, please let us know ... thanks!
     
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