Back to basics: Solid volleying
We team up with Tour coach David Sammel and young British pro Yasmin Clarke to perfect your net game.
Many beginners and club players lack confidence at the net so it’s important to face this challenge head on early. After all, a lot of tennis played in the UK is club doubles and if you’re handy at the front of the court you’ll be Mr or Mrs Popular come club night.
1. Start in a balanced ready position with the racket nice and high and out in front of your chest. Your court position depends on your approach shot, but don’t get too close to the net. However, try to move in after each volley to close down the angles.
2. The backswing should be minimal – you simply don’t have time for a big swing at the ball. Think of preparing for a volley as you simply putting your racket behind the ball.
3. Bring your racket forward to meet the ball and keep your wrist movement to a minimum. The racket face should slide underneath the ball to put a little slice on the shot which will keep it low when it bounces on the other side of the net. If you hit your volleys flat they will bounce too high and give your opponent a chance of passing you.
4. Make contact out in front of your body so you get your bodyweight behind the ball and into your shot you should be using the pace of your opponent’s shot to create power on your volley. If you have time, step into the ball with your leading foot. If you don’t have time just turn your shoulders and hit the volley using an open stance.
5. The golden rule when volleying is to finish each shot before you move off for the next. And keep moving forward after each volley so you cut down your opponent’s angles. The closer you are to the net, the easier the next volley will be.
Try to get used to using the same grip for both volleys the chopper grip. There’s little time to change grip between the forehand and backhand volley. If you’re using the chopper grip for the serve too then you don’t need a grip change when serving and volleying.
On high volleys try to hit the ball down into the court and away from your opponent or onto their weaker side. Balls that drop below the height of the net are tougher to deal with. If you make contact below the netband simply allow the open racket face to direct the ball back over the net nice and deep you can’t be too aggressive with these volleys. Don’t get too close to the net or you’ll be vulnerable to a lob.
The number one error on volleys is players being afraid of the ball, allowing the ball to come into them, rather than sending their racket out to meet the ball.