All volleys are not equal. Mark Bey, of Care Academy, tells students this when he talks about contact point. The traditional advice is to hit volleys out in front. That’s good for a higher volley, especially for a putaway, Bey says. But for first volleys (if you’re a serve-and-volleyer) and lower volleys, a later contact point is required. “I’d say just inside your opposite shoulder for a forehand, and just inside your hitting shoulder for a backhand,” Bey says. “If you’re on top of the net, you can afford to hit the ball way out in front.”
• If you hit a one-handed backhand volley, your off hand still has a role. Your hands should work together, with your off hand moving back as your hitting arm punches forward. This will keep you balanced.
• Volleys require a punch, not a swing. On the forehand, think of knocking books off of a shelf or swiping snow off the hood of a car. Volleys should be compact and explosive.
• Bey sees many students stiffen up when at the net. Tension is the enemy of a good volley, backhand or forehand. “I tell people to have trumpet fingers,” Bey says. “Your index finger and thumb hold the racquet securely, but your bottom three fingers don’t have to be tight.”
• The service line is an excellent target for volleys. If your opponent is off court, a service line angle will be a winner. A service line volley can force your opponent to lunge and make lobs more difficult to hit.
Master Other Strokes:
Originally published in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of TENNIS.