Today, I want to show you why the backhand volley is one of my favorite shots in doubles.
Wait… the backhand volley?
Yes. I don’t mean I like hitting backhand volleys – I prefer my forehand. What I mean is, I love watching my opponents hit them.
Ever play a team that crowds the net? Hit at their backhand volley.
Up against a serve and volleyer? Go to the backhand side.
In a crosscourt rally that you know you shouldn’t be in? Tell your partner to poach. If that doesn’t work, try the net player’s backhand volley.
There are really 3 times you should be trying to find the backhand volley. I’ll go through each, and common misconceptions about each.
Wait, why not lob?
Good question. Lobbing can work, but here’s the thing about lobbing.
Lobs are only effective up to a certain level of tennis. If you’re a 3.5 player, and happy staying at 3.5, then
But, if you want to improve to the 4.0, 4.5 or even 5.0 level, lobbing will NOT get you there.
I’ve looked at the data on this and the win % of doubles teams that lob at high levels is very low, like under 15%.
So instead, when both opponents are crowding the net, find the weaker player and hit at their backhand volley.
Players who serve and volley prefer hitting the half volley on their forehand side. So try hitting a return to their backhand side instead.
Again, change up the pace, spin, and height you’re hitting with to find the most effective ball to hit. Generally, the lower the better so they pop the ball up which will allow your partner at the net to get involved.
I’m not great at rallying crosscourt for more than 3 or 4 shots, so I generally try to get to the net (if I’m playing smart). That’s okay though because most points don’t last that long.
But if you are in a crosscourt rally against someone who can out hit you, take the first opportunity to come in or hit at the net player.
One mistake people make is they try to hit a winner here. When you’re going at the net player, don’t always go for the down-the-line winner. It depends how easy the shot you have is, but most times, going at the backhand volley is the higher percentage play.
On the ad side that means hitting just left of the center net strap to make the net player stab at a weak backhand volley.
On the deuce side, you are going to hit down the alley, but again, don’t always go for the clean winner. I like to hit into their body on the backhand side. They usually miss or pop it up for an easy next shot.
When you’re attacking a players backhand volley, change up the shots your giving them.
Here are a few rules to follow.
The point is, give them a different look.
So, in your next match, look for more ways to find the backhand volleys. In 3.0 to 5.0 tennis you’ll put yourself in an offensive position most times you hit it there.
Are there any other times you like to hit at the backhand volley
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Will Boucek is the Founder & CEO of The Tennis Tribe. He has played tennis for over two decades, including in college. Will has worked with ATP & WTA tour players and coaches. He currently lives in Austin TX where he plays USTA leagues & tournaments, writes about tennis, and teaches doubles workshops.