How to Hit a Swinging Forehand Volley

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A great weapon for baseliners who are uncomfortable at the net.

• The swinging forehand volley is just a forehand—except the ball doesn’t bounce. You set up and swing the same way. It’s an excellent option for strong baseliners who have trouble switching from their forehand grip to a volley grip. First step: Decide early. You need to recognize a slow-moving ball right away and then prepare for a swinging volley. Set up in an open stance with your shoulders fully turned and level, and your off arm pointing out toward the ball. Good posture and balance are essential.

• As you begin to swing, the butt cap of your racquet should point at the incoming ball, just as it would on a forehand. Swinging volleys should be hit from the service line or inside of it—this is an aggressive shot. Your left side will begin to open up as you start to swing. Push forward into the shot and let your knees come up naturally. Don’t jump. If the momentum of your swing lifts you off the ground, great. If not, don’t worry about it.

• Here’s one key difference between this shot and a regular forehand: the point of contact. For an effective swinging volley, you have to hit the ball at shoulder height, above the net. If you hit the ball at the height of the net or below, you’re going to have to hit up, which is not aggressive enough. Still, you must apply topspin by brushing up the back of the ball. Your swing remains low to high, but be sure to drive through the ball, just as you would from the baseline.

• Don’t stop your swing. Even though you’re hitting the ball near the net, you need to finish your swing. Extend through the ball toward your target. Don’t aim for a small target—there’s no need to hit a line with this shot. If you’re hitting the ball hard to a spot outside of your opponent’s immediate reach, that’s enough. Any reply will be weak. As you follow through, your weight will shift to your inside foot and put you in a good position to move forward. Follow the path of the ball and get ready to end the point—if it isn’t over already.

Mark Dalzell is a senior tennis coach and director of the weekly camp program at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

Photo by AP

Originally published in the June 2011 issue of TENNIS.

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