The Volley


The stroke used by a player at the net in which the ball is hit before it bounces. The volley is an aggressive hit which wins the point quickly because the opponent lacks time to return it accurately out of reach of the net player.

Types Of Volley

1. Concerning momentum

a. Aggressive volley.

1. A crisp stroke with definite swing, which sends the ball into the backcourt or alley near the feet of the opponent.

2. The flight of the ball is swiftly downward.

3. Definite body action assists the sharpness of the stroke.

b. The “stop” or “blocked” volley.

1. The racquet is held against the ball, deflecting it off to the side, or dropping it over the net.

2. There is no swing. The racquet is thrust out, or up, to catch the ball as it comes over the net.

3. Sometimes the racquet will “give” back at the contact, to counteract the force of the ball hitting the racquet.

Note – The stop volley is an immediate point winner, for it must place the ball where the opponent cannot possibly reach it.

tennis Volley

2. Concerning ball spin

a. The flat volley.

1. The ball is hit squarely by the racquet in a flat position, similarly to a nail being hit by a hammer.

2. No spin is placed on the ball so that it shoots to its destination like a bullet.

3. This volley is the swiftest and most effective.

b. The slice volley.

1. The racquet hits the back of the ball and moves across it to finish around the outside of the ball, imparting side spin.

2. The ball bounces low and to the side.

3. This volley is most effective in angling the ball off court.

c. The chop volley.

1. The racquet swings in a short axelike movement, striking downward on the back of the ball.

2. This is a defensive volley, used against very fast or low balls, or to drop the ball over the net for a placement.

3. The speed of flight is lessened by the backspin on the ball, and the bounce is low and short.

4. The chop volley is the easiest for beginners to master.

Court Positions For The Volley

1. A player comes to the net to volley when he has “made an opening” (placed his opponent at a disadvantage, so that the return will be weak or his opponent will be unable to place the ball away from the net player).

2. The volleyer’s position at the net varies from six to fifteen feet from the net, depending upon the kind of return expected. If a low, swift ball is anticipated, the net position is close. If a lob or high drive is expected, the net player moves nearer the service line .

3. Once at the net the player should stay until the point is won (except in case of a successful lob by the opponent).

In general one can say that the chop and slice volleys are the antithesis of the top spin drive. Back or side spin is placed on the ball so the mechanics of the volley are entirely different. The racquet is handled like an axe and chops at the ball. The volleyer has no time for a long backswing and the stroke is short, sharp, and “staccato,” as contrasted with the rhythmic, smooth, “legato” swing in the drive.

1. Grip

a. The racquet may be gripped two or three inches from the end of the handle, so that it may be swung into place very quickly.

b. There are two types of grip, which are optional.

1. Using the same hand positions as in the forehand and backhand drives, depending on whether a forehand or backhand volley is taken. (Bracing the thumb up the back of the racquet is helpful in the backhand volley.

2. Using a compromise grip, half way between the forehand and backhand grips. This grip is similar to the “service grip” and forehands and backhands are taken without changing the grip, but using opposite faces of the racquet. Note.—1′ above will be found easier for beginners. 2 is a more advanced grip and difficult to use at first.

c. The hand grips the racquet with knuckles almost parallel to the handle as contrasted with the diagonal or slanting position of the knuckles in the drive. Thus there is a distinct angle between the forearm and the racquet.

A, The forehand volley grip. This grip is similar to the forehand drive grip except that there is a definite angle between the wrist and racquet. Notice the bent elbow position and the short hold of the hand on the racquet.

B, The backhand volley grip. Notice the thumb bracing the back of the handle. The hand is shifted slightly from the forehand position and the opposite face of the racquet is used.

d. The racquet head is kept higher than the wrist, even in hitting low balls.

2. Wrist Action

a. The wrist may be locked throughout the volley stroke without any wrist action (chop volley), or

b. The wrist may abduct, throwing the racquet head downward across the side of the ball (slice volley).

3. Body Position And Action

a. The waiting position is facing the net, with the racquet held above net height, throat resting lightly on the fingers of the left hand (ready for quick action).

b. Let the knees flex as the stroke is taken.

c. Body position for the forehand and backhand volleys is similar to that in the drives. In the volley a step is definitely taken forward with the stroke (left foot in forehand, right foot in backhand) in order to resist the force of the oncoming ball, and send it back sharply. (Fig. 31).

4. Backswing

a. Elbow is bent throughout the stroke.

b. The flexion and extension of the elbow are the important arm actions. Thus the volley is an “elbow action” stroke.

c. The backswing is upward and backward, the racquet taken back above the intended contact point of the ball.

d. The backswing is short, only a foot or two, as contrasted with the long drive backswing.

5. Forward Swing

a. Elbow extends and moves downward to bring racquet forward and downward.

b. Racquet face is held more or less flat throughout this “axelike” stroke.

c. The forward swing in the chop volley is about two feet in length and has very little follow through. In the slice volley, the racquet head swings through to finish near the ground.

Note – The main difference between the “chop” and the “slice” is the more vicious follow through and definite wrist action in the slice.

6. Position Of The Ball At Impact

a. The ball is taken wherever it comes, but the most advantageous place is head or shoulder height.

1. For high balls, more of a downward swing is used, and sometimes the racquet will be slightly closed.

2. For net high balls (between shoulder and waist) the swing is more horizontal, i. e., a more forward and slight downward swing, and the ball is taken to the side of the body rather than in front of it.

3. For balls lower than the net the racquet face is open, so that the ball is deflected upward to clear the net.

Stroke Analysis For The Flat Volley

1. Any grip may be used that will permit the racquet to meet the ball squarely.

2. The backswing is not as high above the intended contact point as in the chop or slice volley. It takes the racquet more directly behind the contact point so that the ball can be “punched” or “hammered” to its destination.

Common Errors Of Beginners In The Volley

1. Failure to get the racquet behind the ball due to

a. Taking racquet back too late
b. Not getting body in position near ball
c. Not watching the ball.

2. Poor direction because of incorrect racquet face angle

a. Due to wobbly wrist and wrist flexion and extension coming into the stroke