by Clark Corey
PBI Director of Tennis Kapalua
USPTA Tennis Professional
There are two places to play tennis from
during a point. You can either rally from the baseline with
groundstrokes or you can move forward to the net and volley.
Both can be effective ways to win a point against an opponent.
When you play from the baseline you will be hitting forehands
and backhands and looking to put your opponent in trouble
and hoping they will make a mistake. When you play from the
net with a volley you are becoming more offensive and looking
to end the point rather than keep it in play like we would
from the baseline.
Many opportunities have been lost by players
who have hit wonderful groundstrokes from the baseline only
to stay put there and not come in and volley away an easy
ball. Two players come to mind that fit this style, one would
be Andre Agassi and the other Monica Seles. Champions in their
own right and wonderful tennis players both have to play extended
points as they rarely, if ever, come to the net.
Part of the reason why players don't come
to the net and volley is that they never learned the proper
technique for volleying. The following information will provide
you with the ability to volley and thus come to the net and
win some points.
The fundamental key on the volley is holding
the racquet with a grip called the Continental grip. You would
hold the racquet grip just firmly with the index knuckle on
the corner bevel and the base of your hand on the same bevel.
By having the Continental grip this allows you to have a racquet
face that is pointed slightly to the sky or openand allows
the ball to have backspin, both of which are fundamental to
a good volley.
When most people come to the net they make
one of three mistakes or if they are unlucky they make all
three mistakes. The first mistake is to take a swing at the
ball like they would do for a groundstroke. This is a common
mistake and somewhat built in as players learned to take backswings
when hitting groundstrokes from the baseline. In order to
avoid this mistake a player needs to realize that when they
volley they are standing about 10 feet away from the net rather
than 40 feet as if they were on the baseline. Since they are
only 10 feet away from the net and hitting a 2 ounce ball
it would make sense that a swing isn't necessary.
A good way to eliminate the swing is to
think CATCH. When a ball is hit at you place your racquet
out in front as if you were going to catch the ball on the
strings. When someone throws an object at us we don't pull
our hands back behind us to catch the object we actually reach
out in front to catch it. This is the exact same motion we
want to do when going to hit a volley. Place your racquet
out in front to catch the ball on the strings and let the
ball rebound off and over the net. Keep in mind the volley
is a controlled directional (CD) shot and not a powerful swinging
shot. Every time a player swings three things can happen and
two of them are bad, the ball can go in or more likely the
player will either miss the ball completely or hit it way
The second mistake we tend to make is to
be too close to the net. A player should be half way between
the net and the service line when attempting to volley. Most
players stand right next to the net and get surprised by the
speed of the ball, have no room to move to hit the volley
or get lobbed and then have to run all the way to the back
of the court to retrieve the ball. The best place to stand
is half way between the net and service line. This location
is called the Ideal Volley Position (IVP). This allows a player
to step forward for low balls stay put for high balls and
also get back for balls that are lobbed over their head.
The last mistake we want to avoid
is having a racquet face that is pointing down or straight
ahead. When we hit a volley with the racquet face pointed
down or straight ahead the ball has a tendency to either go
into the net or land in the middle of court, which is right
where the opponent would like it. It seems hard to hit a ball
into the net when we are so close to the net but when the
racquet face is pointed down or straight ahead it happens
all the time. The best way to eliminate this is to have the
racquet face open or facing the sky at a 45 degree angle.
This will allow the ball to have enough arc to get over the
net and spin to help you control the where the ball will land.