Alexander Zverev Tennis Volleys shot

Mastering Tennis Volleys: Essential Tips & Techniques

Author: Pratik Ghadge

In the dynamic world of tennis, the volley stands out as a pivotal skill, often turning the tide in crucial moments of a match. While groundstrokes may dominate much of the play, it's the volley that often delivers the finishing touch, showcasing a player's precision, agility, and tactical prowess.

This blog delves deep into the art of tennis volley, offering insights into its foundational techniques, essential tips, and effective drills. Whether you're a budding enthusiast or a seasoned player, this comprehensive guide aims to enhance your volleying skills, elevating your game to new heights.

Understanding the Basics of a Volley


Male athlete plays tennis on a court


The Right Grip for a Tennis Volley

Mastering the tennis volley begins with the foundational element: the grip. The continental grip, often referred to as the "chopper" grip, is the preferred choice for volleys. It allows for quick transitions between forehand and backhand volleys, offering versatility and control at the net.

Forceful Punch vs. Using Feel

When approaching the volley, players often grapple with the decision to either deliver a forceful punch or to use a feel. A forceful punch provides power and speed, driving the ball aggressively. On the other hand, using feel emphasizes control, placement, and finesse, allowing players to delicately redirect the ball.

Rethinking the Punch as a Starting Point

While the allure of a powerful punch volley is undeniable, it isn't always the ideal starting point for beginners. Starting with a punch can lead to overemphasis on power at the expense of control. It's essential to first cultivate a sense of feel and touch, building a solid foundation before integrating more aggressive techniques.

Key Techniques for a Successful Volley


Professional tennis player Carlos Alcaraz of Spain in action


Footwork and Positioning

The foundation of a successful volley lies in impeccable footwork and positioning. Being in the right position not only ensures a better shot but also reduces the chances of making errors. The importance of positioning cannot be overstated; it determines the angle, power, and direction of the volley.

A crucial technique in achieving this is the split stepa brief, balanced hop that players take as their opponent strikes the ball. This movement primes them to move swiftly in any direction, ensuring quick reactions and better control. Ultimately, the success of a volley is deeply intertwined with footwork; it's the bridge between recognizing an opportunity and capitalizing on it.

Racquet Positioning

Another vital aspect of volleying is racquet positioning. A common mistake many players make is starting with the racquet positioned too high, leading to missed shots or weak returns. Instead, the racquet should be held at net height, ready to "catch" the ball. This catching motion emphasizes control and touch, allowing players to redirect the ball with precision.

Momentum and Movement

In tennis, momentum is everything. When volleying, it's crucial to move forward, stepping into the shot. This forward movement imparts power and direction to the volley, making it more effective. Conversely, moving sideways or backward while attempting a volley can be detrimental. Such movements can throw off balance, reduce power, and increase the likelihood of errors.

Forehand Volley

The forehand volley is a staple in a player's arsenal. Key techniques for a successful forehand volley include maintaining a firm wrist, ensuring the racquet face is open, and stepping into the shot. These elements, combined with proper footwork, can make the forehand volley a formidable weapon.

Backhand Volley

The backhand volley, while challenging, can be equally effective when executed correctly. Players must focus on keeping their elbows in front, using their shoulders to generate power, and maintaining an open racquet face. With practice and the right techniques, the backhand volley can be as potent and precise as its forehand counterpart.

Three Essential Volley Tips

Mastering the volley in tennis requires a blend of technique, timing, and tactical awareness, all while understanding how to avoid tennis injuries. Here are three indispensable tips to elevate your volley game safely and effectively:

1. Moving Forward During Volleys

Always advancing forward when executing a volley is crucial. This forward momentum not only adds power to your shot but also reduces the reaction time for your opponent. By stepping into the volley, you can effectively redirect the ball, making it challenging for your adversary to counter.

2. Standing Closer to the Net

Positioning yourself nearer to the net offers several advantages. It narrows down the angles for your opponent, forcing them into tighter spots. Additionally, being closer allows for quicker put-aways and sharper angled volleys, making it difficult for opponents to respond.

3. Moving the Racquet Through the Path of the Ball

Instead of waiting for the ball to come to the racquet, actively move your racquet through the ball's path. This proactive approach ensures better control, precision, and power, allowing you to dictate the pace and placement of the volley with greater efficacy.

Volley Drills for Improvement

Improving your volley skills is a crucial part of a tennis workout plan. With consistent practice and the right drills, you can significantly elevate your game. Here's a breakdown of some effective exercises to enhance your volleying prowess:

Basic Drills

  • Using a Wall for Practice: A wall can be a tennis player's best friend. By volleying against a wall, you can focus on refining your technique, improving racquet control, and building consistency. The repetitive nature of this drill allows for immediate feedback and rapid adjustments.
  • Touch Volleys with a Doubles Partner: Pair up with a partner and practice soft touch volleys. This drill emphasizes control and feel, requiring players to delicately exchange volleys without letting the ball bounce.

Advanced Drills

  • Two Up Two Back Practice Volley Drill: In this drill, both players start at the baseline. One player volleys the ball while moving forward, and the other responds with a lob. The objective is to reach the net and execute a winning volley.
  • One Up One Back Drill: One player stays at the net while the other is at the baseline. The baseline player hits groundstrokes, and the net player volleys, promoting net play under pressure.
  • Volleying to Oneself for Better Feel and Control: This self-reliant drill involves volleying the ball upwards and then volleying it again before it touches the ground. It's an excellent exercise for enhancing hand-eye coordination, touch, and control, all vital for successful volleys.

The Role of Feel in Volleying

In tennis, the art of volleying transcends mere technique; it's deeply rooted in "feel." The invisible secret of a correct volley lies in the subtle interplay between the racquet and the ball. Cultivating this feel is paramount, allowing players to intuitively gauge and redirect the ball's energy. Absorbing the force of the incoming ball, rather than just repelling it, offers precision, control, and finesse, turning a good volley into a great one.

You may also likeThe Perfect Tennis Serve: Techniques and Drills to Master It 

Final Thoughts

Mastering the tennis volley is a journey of technique, practice, and intuition. By embracing these insights and dedicating time to drills, players can elevate their net game, making every volley count in the heat of the match.

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