Great Shots: Maria Sharapova's Swinging Forehand Volley
1. Sharapova stands sideways to the net with a wide base and her weight on her back foot.
Few players hit the swinging forehand volley as often, or as well, as Maria Sharapova. She has practiced it since she was a child, and it has become an even more important shot since she suffered a shoulder injury more than five years ago, because it puts less stress on her shoulder than an overhead. She starts with her head and eyes up and looking at the ball. Her racquet is back and her left arm is extended to help maintain her balance.
2. As she begins to shift her weight forward, her eyes remain fixed on the ball.
A lot of club players lead with the racquet head when they swing. If you’re swinging freely and properly, the butt cap of the racquet is going to accelerate first, as shown here, and the rest of the frame will whip around. Notice that the butt cap points up at the ball, which is now in view above Sharapova’s head and out in front of her. Her left arm drops to the side as her body rotates into the shot.
3. Having propelled herself into the shot, all of Sharapova’s weight now rests on her front foot.
Sharapova makes contact in front of her body at shoulder height. Her elbow is at 90 degrees at contact, which is perfect. The face of her racquet is square to the ball and she is clearly brushing up the back of it. Yes, topspin is important on this shot, even though the ball is very high.
4. She brushes up on the ball, but she extends her forearm fully toward her target.
Sharapova’s full shoulder rotation leaves her facing the net with her weight moving forward. From this position, she can easily land, do a split step and be ready for the next shot—if this one isn’t an outright winner.
Katrina Adams is a former Top 10 doubles playerand a commentator for Tennis Channel.
Photographs by David Kenas