some advice on volleys

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by andyroddick's mojo, May 21, 2006.

  1. andyroddick's mojo

    andyroddick's mojo Professional

    Jan 2, 2006
    I was just wondering what are the basic tips for having a good forehand and backhand volley, and pushing the ball deep into the court, to keep the opponent back. I seem to have some trouble with volleys because i never seem to hit it in the sweetspot, and some land a foot past the service line, so I want to make sure I know how to play at net, in case I ever need to come up. I'm an all-court kind of player, with topspin of both sides. (Junior Player: 3.5)
  2. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

    Jun 23, 2005
    There are many ways to hit balls 'deep into the court'...but many of them have flaws that prevent you from either doing more than just this, or to defend more effective shots from opponents.

    The volley, perhaps more than any other shot, is hit with minimal variance among skilled players. While there are a variety of opinions on this, I suggest these learning criterion for you to gain mastery of an effective and consistent volley.

    1. Gain comfort and familiarity with the continental grip for the volley. This will allow you to evolve your volley within the advanced patterns we see top players use.

    2. Avoid hitting the volley too far in front of you. While the phrase 'hit the ball out in front of you' has been a stable saying for pros for decades, the actual hitting zone for most volleys is to the side of the player. (This is 'out in front' of the player but not out 'towards the net' of the player.) Contact for the forehand is indeed a little more out in front since the hitting should, when a player turns sideways, becomes the back shoulder. Thus, the player should push their hand forward for contact on the forehand. On the backhand, the hitting shoulder is in front and thus, the player will want to wait longer to hit the ball without reaching towards the net to make contact.

    3. Keep 'the plane the same' as with all shots, where you maintain the integrity of the strings.

    4. Add slice to your volley...don't turn it into a 'chop' but drive forward with slight underspin. This will help you keep from the common problem of hitting balls down into the net. (Remember, balls dropping prior to contact will reflect off a flat surface downward at a similar angle that the ball came in at. Thus, many players don't counter this issue and end up hitting flat volleys that are buried in the bottom of the net.

    5. Try to maintain a firm, straight arm on backhand volleys. While many pros can be seen bending their arm on their backswing, they all get their arm stright prior to contact and then drive the ball with this firm, straight arm. Beginners to intermediates will bend their arm and then try to straighten it at contact. This places strain on the elbow (creating tennis elbow for many) as well as make the consistency at contact difficult because of this short lever trying to hit the ball.

    6. "Set and Hold"...use this phrase when working on any volley. Set the angle to the desired target prior to contact, then hold the finish after contact. This will keep your contact zone ideal and give you a consistent volley. Too many players 'swing' to gain the desired angle on the racquet and end up being late or hitting too hard.

    7. Imagine your racquet face a mirror, the ball a beam of light. Imagine that you are 'reflecting' the ball for angle volleys and for crisp, deep volleys. Obviously, there is a slight difference when you are adding the underspin that I mentioned earlier. However, once you learn how to hit your volleys with underspin, this mirror/light analogy will help you simplify your volley.

    8. Hold your back foot back for a moment after contact. Too many players hit while rotating their hips--as in taking another step forward. Watch good players and you will see this back foot drag for a moment--or even do what we call the 'carioca step' so-as to not over rotate during the volley.
  3. ta11geese3

    ta11geese3 Semi-Pro

    Jul 31, 2005
    So that's why underspin on volleys is like topspin for groundstrokes...

    Or is it that the slice is a byproduct of tiling the racquet face slightly?
  4. Tennismastery

    Tennismastery Professional

    Jun 23, 2005
    Well, the slice is a desired byproduct of a proper volley. However, slice is desired for several reasons:

    1. It helps keep from hitting balls that are dropping into the net;
    2. You can apply a good, firm stroke on low vollies without hitting the ball out. Obviously, if the ball is below the net, we have to hit the ball upward to clear the net. If we hit these flat with a firm, aggressive stroke, the ball will fly! By slicing the ball, we transfer the pace from velocity to spin. This allows for a firm ball to NOT be hit too a result, gravity can bring the ball down.
    3. Slice off most balls will negate the spin that the incoming ball has. That is, a flat ball will be suseptable to whatever spin the incoming ball has. A ball with a lot of underspin will reflect considerably lower off your strings than a ball with topspin. By applying slice, you dictate the spin of the ball coming off your racquet.
    4. Slice balls tend to say lower off the bounce than flat balls, making it marginally more difficult for them to pass you with the next ball.

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