The volley is a very simple yet complex stroke. By following a few simple steps in the volley process, every player can understand and master the volley stroke.
Start off in your ready position, arms out, racket in front of the body. Left hand on throat of the racket (provided you are right handed) and strings chest height.
Grip - Whether you use one grip for both forehand and backhand or change grips in this event is totally up to the player. I personally choose using one grip (continental) for both volleys.
Forehand - As you are in your ready position turn your shoulders until your racket is facing in the direction of the target you want to hit. Keep in mind you have not moved anything but your shoulders. This ensures that your racket doesn’t go back further than it needs to. At this stage the ball is traveling towards you. Make it a point that your strings are right behind the line of the ball coming towards you. As the ball reaches your strings, hit it towards the direction of your target. THE TRAJECTORY OF YOUR SWING HAS TO BE IN THE DIRECTION OF YOUR TARGET. FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU WERE TO HIT A LOW VOLLEY, YOUR TARGET WOULD BE THE TOP OF THE NET. IN THIS CASE, YOUR RACKET SHOULD GET BEHIND THE LINE OF THE BALL AND SWING UPWARDS TOWARDS YOUR TARGET. This will avoid “chopping” down on the ball.
Backhand - Back to the ready position, left hand on the throat of the racket. Again turn your shoulders until your strings face your target and are behind the line of the ball. As the ball reaches your strings hit it towards your target. At the end of the shot make sure your strings are facing the target you are trying to hit. Again this avoids dropping the racket head and limits the amount of adjustments made by the wrists, if any.
Physical – Law of Physics
Remember one thing: you should almost never hit a volley standing still. So, what most players do when practicing their volleys is to try and hit the ball too hard. This happens because when you are stationary there is no added momentum onto the ball you are hitting. Going on physics the ball you are hitting has to be slower. Do not try and hit the volley with as much pace as a volley you would hit while running into the net. This is where the technical part of the volley breaks down because trying to add more power means adding more swing and you don’t want to lose your control. So keeping in mind simple physics. You as the player are running towards the net and a ball flying towards you at a given speed.
When your racket collides with the ball a great amount of force is created. So this is where there cannot be any adjusting on your technique whilst hitting the volley. Your racket has to stay around the same area when hitting the volley. The slightest movement of the racket has a great impact on the outcome of the volley at higher speeds. So you are actually trying to create a wall on which the ball can bounce off in the direction you want the ball to go.
Dealing with Slow Floating Shots
We are back to physics again. A slow ball traveling towards you means it will leave your racket at the same pace. Therefore, we have to add our own pace from somewhere. Either the feet, moving faster towards the slow ball, instead of waiting for it to come to you or provided you have time, swinging at the ball more. (This is the riskier option). Therefore, on slower shots you should go for placement more than power. Moving to the ball means you are closer to the net so you can use more angle to place the ball away from the opponent.
Mental focus helps you choose which shots to use in pressure situations to ensure you don’t feel tentative.
You want to make sure that at all times you choose to hit the volley where your opponent will have less options. This keeps you from feeling that you have to “do more” with the volley. Don’t try more than you have to. Here is a quick example, if you have a high volley it’s a good time to go crosscourt because of you can create an angle that will force your opponent to run further. On lower volleys you should opt for the down the line as from below the net you cannot get the same pace and angle as the high volley. By hitting down the line you give your opponent less angle meaning you have less court to cover. Down the middle is also a good option at this stage; giving your opponent even less angle.
Choosing the right option will ensure that you keep approaching the net as it is a valuable game plan to keep your opponent guessing while giving them less options. Always remember, make your opponent hit a passing shot before you choose to try and put away the ball. You could easily miss it and give them a free point.
2) Footwork is important. You have to be moving through the volley to get more power on the ball without losing control.
3) When you approach the net, 50% of the time you will receive a free point just by intimidating your opponent by moving in.
4) If you feel you haven’t hit a great volley and your opponent has an easier passing shot, choose one side and hope for the best. This gives them something extra to think about and gives them one less option out of the three that they have.