Tennis Volleys

A volley is played when the ball is struck before it bounces. Specific shots include the high volley, low volley, backhand volley, approach volley, and drop volley. A half volley is usually played defensively.

High Volley

This volley is used on both the forehand and backhand side and involves players punching through the ball. This means a short backswing and little follow-through. If a player does swing through on this type of volley it is very difficult to control and will more often than not go out of the court.

How: For this type of volley the grip should be held tight to keep the racket steady when the ball makes contact with the strings. If the grip is weak the contact of the ball will force the racket back and the ball will fall short.

The non-playing hand should be held out in front of the body to track the ball and help with balance. Then the ball should be punched or blocked back over the net, keeping the eyes on the ball at all times. Points to remember: To keep this stroke short players should keep the non-playing hand out in front to catch the racket as it comes through after making the shot. Keeping the wrist firmly in place and having the racket well above the wrist is also vitally important.


Backhand Approach Volley

This volley can be used on the forehand or backhand side. This type of shot often occurs for a serve and volley player. This means a player who likes to serve and follow the serve into the net. If the player doesn’t get into the net fast enough they will be forced to play and approach volley, usually somewhere around the service line.

How: Using the continental grip players are required to stop quickly as they make their way into the net to gain control of the approach volley. If a player is still running when hitting the ball it makes the volley almost impossible to control, and the ball could end up anywhere.

Having said this, players should still try and step into the shot. The ball should be hit well in front of the body, the hips and knees should be low, and the head kept still.

Not much of a swing or follow-through should be needed, just the opponent’s power from the incoming ball, to send the ball straight back over the net. Again balance and timing are crucial in hitting a successful approach volley.

After hitting this shot, players should move further into the net.

Points to remember: Send the ball down the line if the player is positioned wide, or if the player is standing in the center of the court, they should play the ball back down the center to reduce passing angles.


Approach Volley

This volley can be used on the forehand or backhand side. This type of shot often occurs for a serve and volley player. This means a player who likes to serve and follow the serve into the net. If the player doesn’t get into the net fast enough they will be forced to play and approach volley, usually somewhere around the service line.

How: Using the continental grip players are required to stop quickly as they make their way into the net to gain control of the approach volley. If a player is still running when hitting the ball it makes the volley almost impossible to control, and the ball could end up anywhere.

Having said this, players should still try and step into the shot. The ball should be hit well in front of the body, the hips and knees should be low, and the head kept still.

Not much of a swing or follow-through should be needed, just the opponent’s power from the incoming ball, to send the ball straight back over the net. Again balance and timing are crucial in hitting a successful approach volley.

After hitting this shot, players should move further into the net.

Points to remember: Send the ball down the line if the player is positioned wide, or if the player is standing in the center of the court, they should play the ball back down the center to reduce passing angles.


Backhand Half Volley

This shot is a pick-up shot used when a ball bounces at your feet.

How: The action is extremely short. The right knee goes towards the ball with a knee bend. What is important with the backhand is that the left arm is counteracting the right arm, going backward to increase balance.

Points to remember: Your head needs to be held still on contact. This will increase consistency and accuracy.


Half Volley

This is considered as one of the most difficult shots in tennis, therefore, players never choose to hit this shot, but sometimes it is forced upon them. It is also a defensive shot. If an opponent sees a player advancing to the net they will often try and aim the ball at the player’s feet to make it difficult for them. This is because all players know that the half volley is hard to judge because it is not a full groundstroke or a normal volley, it falls between the two

How: The half volley may be needed at any point on the court, for instance, if a player is hitting from the baseline and their opponent plays a very deep shot that hits the baseline a half volley will be used to return the ball.

Keeping eyes on the ball is essential when executing this shot because it has to be hit in front of the body and timed to perfection. Players should move to meet the ball on the bounce, and hold a low position until contact has been made.

Try to hit the ball back deep and carry on moving into the net after playing a half volley.

Points to remember: Keep low on the ball, if players lift up the ball will probably hit the net.


Low Volley

This shot can be used on forehand, backhand and two-handed volleys. This is one of the most difficult shots to play as it involves getting down low, and moving forward whilst holding the body steady.

Not only this, but the player must try and hit a shot hat is non-returnable by the opponent. This shot most definitely takes good hand-eye coordination, patience to perfect it, and balance.

How: A neutral stance is most effective for this volley if the player has time. The back knee should be bent to allow the player to get down to the level of the ball, and help to keep a strong foundation. Balance can be improved by having a straight upper body, this can also help to use as little backswing as possible.

The continental grip is the standard grip used for this type of volley, combined with the face being slightly open on contact, helps lift the ball just over the net with a hint of backspin. The backspin will make it very difficult for the opponent to reach and get under the ball.

If players swing the racket whilst executing this shot the ball will drop in the mid-court area, and will allow the opposing player to pick a spot and play a passing shot. So little or no follow is required.

Points to remember: If the ball is hitting the net then the racket head is probably to low, so try and keep the racket above the level of the wrist, this should also give players maximum control over the shot.


Backhand Drop Volley

This shot can be used on the forehand, backhand, and two-handed volleys. It is most effective when the opponent is positioned at the back of court because of the distance they have to travel to return it.

How: When attempting a drop volley it is important that the player lets the wrist flex on contact with the ball, this ensures some of the power is soaked up by the strings, and hopefully drop the ball just over the net.

There is no follow-through involved in this volley as any forward movement of the racket may cause the ball to drop in the mid-back court area, and control of the point would be lost.

Practice this shot on the forehand, backhand, and with two hands, and from different angles so players are confident from all positions.

Confidence in a players own ability is again important to execute this shot properly and make it difficult for an opponent to return it with interest.

Points to remember: Loosen the grip just before contact is made with the ball. Try to disguise the shot as much as possible so it is not read by the opponent, giving them enough time to choose a passing winner.


Drop Volley

The drop volley can be used on the forehand, backhand, and two-handed volleys. It is most effective when the opponent is positioned at the back of court because of the distance they have to travel to return it.

How: When attempting a drop volley it is important that the player lets the wrist flex on contact with the ball, this ensures some of the power is soaked up by the strings, and hopefully drop the ball just over the net.

There is no follow-through involved in this volley as any forward movement of the racket may cause the ball to drop in the mid-back court area, and control of the point would be lost. Practice this shot on the forehand, backhand, and with two hands, and from different angles so players are confident from all positions.

Confidence in a players own ability is again important to execute this shot properly and make it difficult for an opponent to return it with interest.

Points to remember: Loosen the grip just before contact is made with the ball. Try to disguise the shot as much as possible so it is not read by the opponent, giving them enough time to choose a passing winner.


Drive Volley

This shot can be used on either the forehand or the backhand and is the most aggressive of the volleys. It involves a player stepping in to intercept an opponents deep ground shot, in the air before it bounces.

The difference between this and other volleys is that the racket head is held lower and the shot is hit with a lot of topspin and power.

How: The preferred grips used to execute this volley are the western and semi-western. Players should be confident, and must not hesitate when moving in to hit this shot.

To hit a drive volley on the forehand side for a right-handed player rotation should take place at the shoulders, trunk, and hips, with the left hand out in front to track the ball.

Weight and momentum need to be kept moving forward. The backswing can be shortened by keeping the elbow in close to the body, and the face of the racket should be a little closed. The wrist should be slightly above the racket head.

When making contact with the ball, well in front of the body, players should accelerate through the ball, keeping the wrist quite loose to generate the topspin with a complete follow through.

After making contact players should keep moving in towards the net to reduce the angles for a return.

Points to remember: Practice this stroke on both forehands and backhands, and make sure players accelerate through the ball to make a return difficult.