Author Topic: How to improve pathetic volleys  (Read 3439 times)

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Offline mach550

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How to improve pathetic volleys
« on: July 18, 2008, 03:07:44 AM »
Not sure if anyone can help! I am roughly a 3.0-4.0 player. My groundstrokes are more at the 4.0 level but my volleys are 3.0. I have no problems directing my volleys when the pace is moderate and I have time. But when I play in a faster-paced doubles game, I frequently mis-hit volleys and lose points, i.e. hit the frame, off-center, or ball deflecting uncontrollably off the strings.

This is frustrating when all the other players around me seem to handle those machine-gun net rallies with ease. They appear to have all the time in the world to hit those shots. I can push them around from the back court but once I'm at the net, they make me look like a real fumbler, always mis-hitting and spraying volleys all over the place. Any suggestions to improve?

If it helps, I use a light 9.4 ounce racket (Head Ti.S2) and volley both sides using a continental grip. I can control and direct volleys from shots with moderate pace with good consistency, but notice that my volleys lack power and sting compared to others. I am relatively quick around the court, but seem to have slow reaction time at the net. Most of the players I'm trying to beat are around 4.0 level. Only my volleys let me down otherwise I'd be doing quite well against these guys...

Offline Tennis4you

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2008, 08:00:58 AM »
A few things that can help when playing faster hitters and you are looking to hit volleys.

1.  I assume you are using the same grip for both your forehand and backhand volleys, that is usually a given.

2.  Keep your racquet up.  I see a lot of players who come to the net and the head of their racquet is at their waist.  That is a no-no.  Against big hitters that will get you in deep trouble as you cannot simply hit reflex volleys as well if you need to bring the racquet up and to the side to hit the volley.

3.  No backswing.  I see some players who like to have some swing to their volleys.  To do this it takes an insane amount of timing to come into contact with the ball in the right spot.  And the faster they hit the ball at you the tougher it will be to time it right.  You need to keep the backswing on the volley down to a minimum, like none if possible.  A follow through as you "punch" the volley is fine. 

Those are the few things I could think of in regards to struggling hitting harder hit shots at the net.

A lot of people go out and practice ground strokes a lot but practice hitting volleys for maybe 5 minutes out of 90 minutes of practice.  If you are a dubs player, the volley is every bit as important as the groundie, you could argue that it is more important.  It is a big necessity that you practice those volleys, a ton!  It will make a huge difference.

And BTW, welcome to the forums!!!
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Offline pawan89

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2008, 11:36:00 PM »
mdshahid should have something to say. he's been teaching me volleys and I think he hits some crazy good ones and knows about it. But Scott pointed out the main things for sure.


Offline mach550

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2008, 12:38:11 AM »
Hey, thanks a lot for the tips, they are greatly appreciated! These are things I should know but now that you point them out, I'm not sure if I *really* am keeping my racket up and having short/no backswing! Will try it out at practice tonight! Thanks again, and thanks for the welcome, this seems like a nice forum...

Offline dmastous

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2008, 10:00:36 AM »
Just to add a few things that haven't been mentioned.
Keep the head of the racquet above your wrist. That's kind of the same thing as keeping the racquet up, but different. Keeping the head of the racquet above the wrist keeps the racquet in the best volleying position. That's how your friends are able to hit volleys off hard shots.
FIRM wrist (but not rock solid). Always firm wrist. Even on touch volleys. Trying to caress the ball to hit drop shots just doesn't work. The ball is only on the strings for 4/10ths of a second. Whatever you do with the wrist after the ball hits is meaningless. It just adds risk with no reward.
Movement is also important. Follow the ball. If you hit a ball into a corner, follow it to that side.
Volley based on the level of the ball. If the ball is hit near or below the level of the net, you need to volley up, volley it deep (or try an angle volley). Don't try and hit an offensive volley with a ball near the net. If the ball is above the net, or around the shoulders, then you can hit down and flat.

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Offline mdshahid20

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2008, 10:23:02 AM »
mdshahid should have something to say. he's been teaching me volleys and I think he hits some crazy good ones and knows about it. But Scott pointed out the main things for sure.
lol yeah okay.... umm scott and dmast basically hit all the essentials. basically, keep it simple and dont add unnecessary movements. one thing that i've found particularly helpfull is that, when u volley, u basically derive any kind of power by moving forward. not with ur arms or wrist, just step into every volley with ur opposite foot, keep ur wrist firm and, as they say "punch it". also, bend ur knees instead of dropping ur racket head or bending ur back. you should basically be in the same position above the hip for every volley, and just adjust ur height with ur knees. idk how to describe it very well online but...

Offline dmastous

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2008, 11:41:30 AM »
mdshahid should have something to say. he's been teaching me volleys and I think he hits some crazy good ones and knows about it. But Scott pointed out the main things for sure.
lol yeah okay.... umm scott and dmast basically hit all the essentials. basically, keep it simple and dont add unnecessary movements. one thing that i've found particularly helpfull is that, when u volley, u basically derive any kind of power by moving forward. not with ur arms or wrist, just step into every volley with ur opposite foot, keep ur wrist firm and, as they say "punch it". also, bend ur knees instead of dropping ur racket head or bending ur back. you should basically be in the same position above the hip for every volley, and just adjust ur height with ur knees. idk how to describe it very well online but...

I'm not going to try and say moving your feet isn't important. It is, but I never convinced my feet to move that well. Stepping into a volley is important, but when you don't have time to move your feet (or your feet argue with you like mine), you shoulder will give you that punch in a pinch. Not your arm, your shoulders.
As for bending down with the ball, that's the point of keeping the racquet head above your wrist as much as possible. But good advice. :good:
« Last Edit: July 19, 2008, 11:42:17 AM by dmastous »

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Offline monstertruck

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2008, 12:06:23 PM »
Lots of good tips here!
I'll toss in my .02 worth which is the same for club players trying to improve any stroke-  practice, practice, practice.

Make sure your basic technique is ok and then work it!

Find a couple of volley drills you like and work them for a half hour 2-3 times a week for several weeks.

Here's another tip which helped my FH volley-  practice FH volleys with a 2 handed grip (yes, the hands are crossed).  This forced me to turn my shoulders instead of taking the racquet back with my arm.  After locking in this concept, return to 1 handed volleys paying careful attention to still turn the shoulders.

Good luck and have fun!
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Offline dmastous

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2008, 01:35:02 PM »
Lots of good tips here!
I'll toss in my .02 worth which is the same for club players trying to improve any stroke-  practice, practice, practice.

Make sure your basic technique is ok and then work it!

Find a couple of volley drills you like and work them for a half hour 2-3 times a week for several weeks.

Here's another tip which helped my FH volley-  practice FH volleys with a 2 handed grip (yes, the hands are crossed).  This forced me to turn my shoulders instead of taking the racquet back with my arm.  After locking in this concept, return to 1 handed volleys paying careful attention to still turn the shoulders.

Good luck and have fun!

Here's another; stand against a fence (perferrably a soft fence), and have someone feed balls at you. That will cure you of any backswing.

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Offline mach550

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2008, 07:14:52 PM »
Thanks to all for the good advice! The key tips I've picked up here:

1. Keep the racket head up (above the wrist). I'll need to counsciously check if I'm guilty of not doing this.
2. Short or no backswing. I think I do this but again need to check next time I'm on court.
3. Firm wrist (but not rock solid)
4. Derive power from stepping forward. My feet freeze at the net so definitely something to work on.
5. Use forward step or shoulders to make the punch. Need to try this out!
6. Spend more time practicing volley drills. This is very valid as I admit I don't spend nearly enough time improving my weakest stroke.

Hope I can apply all this to help inch my volley skills just that little bit higher  :)

Offline OSU Buckeye

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2008, 11:57:35 AM »
Nobody mentioned watching the ball into the racket to cut down on the frame volleys. 

Like MT said, practice, practice.   If you get some decent baseline-stroking people to just drill shots at you while your at the net, then after much of that, you will start to feel more comfortable with the pace of strokes coming at you fast and having to volley quick.  Then once your comfort with fast shots at the net gets better, your confidence with being up at the net and being able to handle different stuff at the net will grow.  Good luck. 

Offline djinni9

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2008, 08:56:25 PM »
this might not matter that much at a lower level but if you want to be a good net player with dependable volleys, especially in quick exchanges, a heavier racquet, i think, is a must. like you say, no problem on moderate to slow paced volleys, where you'll have time; but on hard hit shots you'll need weight behind the ball. if your balls are going all over the place, it seems to me that your 9.4 oz. racquet may be a contributing factor. also, if you're playing with an oversized racquet, don't expect much consistency and 'sting'. try to demo or borrow slightly heavier and smaller head racquets, if you're comfortable with them and notice that you are volleying better, problem solved. of course, no racquet will substitute for bad fundamentals.good luck

Offline monstertruck

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2008, 09:15:44 AM »
this might not matter that much at a lower level but if you want to be a good net player with dependable volleys, especially in quick exchanges, a heavier racquet, i think, is a must. like you say, no problem on moderate to slow paced volleys, where you'll have time; but on hard hit shots you'll need weight behind the ball. if your balls are going all over the place, it seems to me that your 9.4 oz. racquet may be a contributing factor. also, if you're playing with an oversized racquet, don't expect much consistency and 'sting'. try to demo or borrow slightly heavier and smaller head racquets, if you're comfortable with them and notice that you are volleying better, problem solved. of course, no racquet will substitute for bad fundamentals.good luck
I'd never considered that.  What would you say the balance should be for such a racquet, headlight?
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Offline djinni9

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2008, 12:12:58 PM »
this might not matter that much at a lower level but if you want to be a good net player with dependable volleys, especially in quick exchanges, a heavier racquet, i think, is a must. like you say, no problem on moderate to slow paced volleys, where you'll have time; but on hard hit shots you'll need weight behind the ball. if your balls are going all over the place, it seems to me that your 9.4 oz. racquet may be a contributing factor. also, if you're playing with an oversized racquet, don't expect much consistency and 'sting'. try to demo or borrow slightly heavier and smaller head racquets, if you're comfortable with them and notice that you are volleying better, problem solved. of course, no racquet will substitute for bad fundamentals.good luck
I'd never considered that.  What would you say the balance should be for such a racquet, headlight?

headlight; more the better, theoretically at least. besides, generally, heavier player's racquets tend to be even more headlight, so as a buyer you don't have much choice anyway. you won't find 100+ stiff babolats that weigh over 12 oz. AND are very headheavy, which is a good thing.  :)
in my opinion, heavier racquets are more suitable for baseline play (power, stability, consistency) for serving (bite on the ball for spin and power) as well as net play. so, tennis pretty much requires a heavy racquet, period.

Offline monstertruck

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2008, 01:03:17 PM »
this might not matter that much at a lower level but if you want to be a good net player with dependable volleys, especially in quick exchanges, a heavier racquet, i think, is a must. like you say, no problem on moderate to slow paced volleys, where you'll have time; but on hard hit shots you'll need weight behind the ball. if your balls are going all over the place, it seems to me that your 9.4 oz. racquet may be a contributing factor. also, if you're playing with an oversized racquet, don't expect much consistency and 'sting'. try to demo or borrow slightly heavier and smaller head racquets, if you're comfortable with them and notice that you are volleying better, problem solved. of course, no racquet will substitute for bad fundamentals.good luck
I'd never considered that.  What would you say the balance should be for such a racquet, headlight?

headlight; more the better, theoretically at least. besides, generally, heavier player's racquets tend to be even more headlight, so as a buyer you don't have much choice anyway. you won't find 100+ stiff babolats that weigh over 12 oz. AND are very headheavy, which is a good thing.  :)
in my opinion, heavier racquets are more suitable for baseline play (power, stability, consistency) for serving (bite on the ball for spin and power) as well as net play. so, tennis pretty much requires a heavy racquet, period.
Seems to work for me.  I wonder what Rafa's racquet weighs?  He genereates so much racquet head speed that I thing a heavy stick would spin him into the ground!
CONK da ball!!!

Offline dmastous

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2008, 06:33:59 PM »
this might not matter that much at a lower level but if you want to be a good net player with dependable volleys, especially in quick exchanges, a heavier racquet, i think, is a must. like you say, no problem on moderate to slow paced volleys, where you'll have time; but on hard hit shots you'll need weight behind the ball. if your balls are going all over the place, it seems to me that your 9.4 oz. racquet may be a contributing factor. also, if you're playing with an oversized racquet, don't expect much consistency and 'sting'. try to demo or borrow slightly heavier and smaller head racquets, if you're comfortable with them and notice that you are volleying better, problem solved. of course, no racquet will substitute for bad fundamentals.good luck
I'd never considered that.  What would you say the balance should be for such a racquet, headlight?

headlight; more the better, theoretically at least. besides, generally, heavier player's racquets tend to be even more headlight, so as a buyer you don't have much choice anyway. you won't find 100+ stiff babolats that weigh over 12 oz. AND are very headheavy, which is a good thing.  :)
in my opinion, heavier racquets are more suitable for baseline play (power, stability, consistency) for serving (bite on the ball for spin and power) as well as net play. so, tennis pretty much requires a heavy racquet, period.
Seems to work for me.  I wonder what Rafa's racquet weighs?  He genereates so much racquet head speed that I thing a heavy stick would spin him into the ground!

Nadal uses one of the lightest racquets on tour (amongst the men). It's 11.3oz (320g).

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And is the sawdust jealous?
I worry about these things .

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Offline djinni9

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2008, 03:35:17 PM »
this might not matter that much at a lower level but if you want to be a good net player with dependable volleys, especially in quick exchanges, a heavier racquet, i think, is a must. like you say, no problem on moderate to slow paced volleys, where you'll have time; but on hard hit shots you'll need weight behind the ball. if your balls are going all over the place, it seems to me that your 9.4 oz. racquet may be a contributing factor. also, if you're playing with an oversized racquet, don't expect much consistency and 'sting'. try to demo or borrow slightly heavier and smaller head racquets, if you're comfortable with them and notice that you are volleying better, problem solved. of course, no racquet will substitute for bad fundamentals.good luck
I'd never considered that.  What would you say the balance should be for such a racquet, headlight?

headlight; more the better, theoretically at least. besides, generally, heavier player's racquets tend to be even more headlight, so as a buyer you don't have much choice anyway. you won't find 100+ stiff babolats that weigh over 12 oz. AND are very headheavy, which is a good thing.  :)
in my opinion, heavier racquets are more suitable for baseline play (power, stability, consistency) for serving (bite on the ball for spin and power) as well as net play. so, tennis pretty much requires a heavy racquet, period.
Seems to work for me.  I wonder what Rafa's racquet weighs?  He genereates so much racquet head speed that I thing a heavy stick would spin him into the ground!

Nadal uses one of the lightest racquets on tour (amongst the men). It's 11.3oz (320g).

yes, but it's jacked up to ~340 grams by customization; still, one of the lightest setups on tour. for comparison, daniel nestor, the doubles specialist, uses a 400 gram setup! more surprisingly, gaudio the baseliner, i think, was playing with 390 grams or so.

Offline mypasswordstrength

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Re: How to improve pathetic volleys
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2008, 08:32:24 PM »
A few things that can help when playing faster hitters and you are looking to hit volleys.

1.  I assume you are using the same grip for both your forehand and backhand volleys, that is usually a given.

2.  Keep your racquet up.  I see a lot of players who come to the net and the head of their racquet is at their waist.  That is a no-no.  Against big hitters that will get you in deep trouble as you cannot simply hit reflex volleys as well if you need to bring the racquet up and to the side to hit the volley.

3.  No backswing.  I see some players who like to have some swing to their volleys.  To do this it takes an insane amount of timing to come into contact with the ball in the right spot.  And the faster they hit the ball at you the tougher it will be to time it right.  You need to keep the backswing on the volley down to a minimum, like none if possible.  A follow through as you "punch" the volley is fine. 

Those are the few things I could think of in regards to struggling hitting harder hit shots at the net.

A lot of people go out and practice ground strokes a lot but practice hitting volleys for maybe 5 minutes out of 90 minutes of practice.  If you are a dubs player, the volley is every bit as important as the groundie, you could argue that it is more important.  It is a big necessity that you practice those volleys, a ton!  It will make a huge difference.

And BTW, welcome to the forums!!!

These are grrrrreat tips!!


Just want to add an opinion. I always remind myself to do no 2 when I know a volley is coming since dropping racket head below the waist is very very very tempting. When i see an incoming volley i say it loud to myself "racket up!", "racket up!". This works for me and i hope it helps