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The Volley

tennis player hitting a volley shot

By Jim Carella, GPTA, USPTA, PTR, PPR, Tennis Professional Sugarloaf Country Club

The volley is one of the easiest shots to execute but one of the most intimidating at the same time. From a stroke production standpoint, your tennis racket does very little in the way of movement; it stays near or at the contact point throughout the striking of the ball. So from a physical standpoint, compared to the serve or groundstrokes, it’s a relatively easy shot to hit. The first shot we teach beginning junior players as young as three years of age is the “High Five Volley.”

What can make the volley intimidating or scary is your proximity to your opponent; you are now nearly half the distance from where the ball is being struck, thus providing you less time to react. Not only do you have less time to prepare because of your court positioning, but the ball is traveling at a great speed. When the ball meets the court surface, it loses much of its velocity, slowing down the ball speed and providing you more time to react. Certainly, each court is different; however, generally speaking, a clay court will provide the greatest friction and slow the ball down more than a hard court.

Since the ball has more velocity and energy, you need to have a firmer wrist and grip upon contact, or the racket might twist on an off-center hit. Good grip strength is necessary at the net, but a light touch is needed as well. When you are trying to hit an angel, drop volley, or contacting the ball below the net and near your feet, a loose grip will help in all three situations. When you do hit a soft or finesse volley, it is very important to track the ball all the way to your racket, ensuring a sweet-spot contact point!

One of the biggest challenges at the net is wanting to see where your “put away” or “winner” volley will land. Warning: Taking your eye off the volley, is the most common error tennis players make and often ends up costing them the point. When playing the net, you are in a position to help your team win the point, and typically all eyes are on you so stay focused on the ball!

For more professional help with your volley, contact your local GPTA Certified Tennis Professional and good luck in your next match!

Hometown (City/State): Tenafly, NJ
How did you get involved in teaching tennis? Being a Physical Education major it was something that came natural to me.
Diehard fan of what sports team? The Atlanta Braves
Best part of your game? My volley
Dream doubles match would be me and… Stan Smith vs Roger Federer & Geoff Brown
When I’m not teaching tennis, I’m… Cooking in the kitchen
My favorite tennis memory is: Doubles with Stan Smith vs Tom Gorman and Matt Grayson
My favorite professional player is: Roger Federer
#1 reason why I enjoy teaching & coaching tennis: Seeing the improvement in my students and helping people learn a lifetime sport!
What important tennis message do you want to promote? Tennis: Fitness-Fun-Sport for a lifetime

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