How to Volley in Tennis

  • Use your legs to be explosive, contact the ball infront of you and angle your racket face correctly.
  • The best volleys have always stuck to the fundamentals and execute these fundamentals to perfection.
  • Keeping things simple will help you out in a big way!
  • Hitting a great volley isn’t overly complicated, and that’s the way you should approach the shot.

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

Some tennis pundits say that volleying is a dying art in the sport. Sure, the days of players serving and volleying are long gone, but I believe hitting a good volley is still a critical part of the game.

Of course, to hit a great volley you need to have good hand skills at the net.

How to volley in tennis

And while the focus is very much on baseline play these days, if players can pick the right time to get to the net and execute a volley well, they will be EFFECTIVE on the court, period. 

As a matter of fact, while many people love this man for his baseline play, Nadal is actually one of the best there is at picking the right time to come to the net and put his volley away.

Sure, hitting a volley naturally means you have less time to react since the ball is coming at you with speed, but MASTER THE ART, you will be a better tennis player

How is this done? Well, read on and I’ll show you!

Three tips on hitting a better volley

i) Use Your Legs to Be Explosive

Loads of players think that to hit a great volley, you’ve got to swing WILDLY at the ball to get any pace. I

can tell you from experience that this isn’t the case.

In fact, if you do try and swing wildly at the ball, you will have a much tougher time trying to hit it correctly, and there is a better chance that you’ll stick the ball out or in the net.

Obviously, this isn’t what you want to happen.

Instead, it’s much better to maintain a low center of GRAVITY, bending your legs, while using them to spring towards the ball – while using the continental grip, of course.

Just imagine that there is a V on the COURT in front of you.

You need to go out and meet the ball while using this V-shape as your guide, and the only way to do this is by using your legs.

Not only that, but the forward momentum of your body is what will generate the pace, which is something that many players fail to understand.

ii) Contact the Ball in Front of You

This tip is usually given for all tennis strokes, but I feel that it isn’t emphasized enough on the volley.

To give yourself the best chance of TIMING the ball correctly, as well as giving yourself a better shot at directing the ball where you want it to go, you’ve got to catch the ball in front of your body.

But don’t be confused here, I’m not saying you need to contact the ball one foot in front of yourself.

Instead, it’s better to keep the elbow tucked into your hip if possible, and then go out to meet the ball using your forearm to push forward. 

This is how you can maintain the STRONGEST position when contacting the ball too.

Any further than this and your racket face may start to wobble on contact, which makes things pretty tricky indeed. 

iii) Angle Your Racket Face Correctly

Here is another element where players tend to get a little confused. That’s because a lot of players think that the volley needs to be hit flat, but to be an effective volleyer, the volley needs to be hit with a bit of spin .

Specifically, you need to cut the ball to CREATE a little bit of backspin, otherwise, the ball will spring too high off the court at the other side.

To do this, you need to:

  1. Open your racket face
  2. Prepare the racket head above the ball (not level to it), and then
  3. Slightly CUT DOWN on the ball as you punch the volley.

You will see an instant improvement if you can master this third tip, and perhaps most importantly, your opponents will have a harder time hitting a passing shot beyond your reach at the net.

One of the all-time greats at the net, in my opinion, is Tim Henman.

And you can get a direct lesson from Tim on how to hit the best possible volley in the video below:

The 3 best volleyers right now

1) Roger Federer

Federer does plenty of things well, and volleying is certainly one of those things.

Not only is his feel around the net absolutely incredible, but his technical abilities when volleying are FLAWLESS.

He angles his racket face perfectly, he chops the ball well to get that bite into the court, and he uses his legs to get the necessary pace.

I would highly advise checking out some of his volleying videos to see what I mean!

2) Daniel Evans

Daniel Evans comes to the net much more often than other top ATP players, and why not?

His volleys are FANTASTIC.

What I love about his volleying is that he

  • Keeps things so simple, with a nice punch on the ball
  • Good use of the body, and
  • He chooses the RIGHT times to come to the net and put pressure on his opponent. 

3) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Many people rave about Tsitsipas for his HEAVY groundstrokes and athletic abilities, but his volleying is definitely underrated.

In my opinion, he is one of the best at hitting transition volleys to set himself up, and then his putaway volleys are top-drawer too.

Since he has this option at his disposal, on top of his heavy groundstrokes, I have no doubt that he can be a future champion of the sport.

So while people might say that volleying isn’t as important as it used to be, I beg to differ, as it’s a great skill to master and have in your ARSENAL to come forward and close out a point.

Feeling more confident with hitting a great volley? Let us know your results in the comments.

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