Tennis Volley Technique: The 3 Point Checklist

Do you ever feel like you keep missing too many volleys?

Maybe you feel uncomfortable at the net? You don’t have the confidence you need to poach and end the point… You’re scared to get beat up the alley…

Follow this easy to use, 3 point volley checklist to start hitting clean volleys and actually win points from the net instead of missing volleys in the net or floating them for the other team.

First, we’ll cover the most common mistakes people make – I’ve watched hundreds of hours of both professional, and USTA tennis. There are several issues I see over and over again in doubles matches.

Common Mistakes At The Net In Doubles

Moving backward or sideways while hitting the shot.

Without moving forward you’re leaving it up to your arm to do all the work, then you may get into a habit of swinging on your volleys which will increase room for error and decrease your percentage. This is a bad habit that many tennis players make.

Lunging at the ball instead of moving your feet.

I see people all the time, miss a volley and grab their racket and replay the volley as if it’s something their arm or upper body hit the ball wrong. That’s almost never the case. You’re upper body didn’t “forget” how to hit a volley. It’s always the feet and momentum that determines the result of the volley.

Standing too far back.

This one is easy. If you’re standing at the service line, it’s a much tougher volley than when you’re on top of the net.

Carving under the ball instead of hitting through the ball.

If your volleys pop up more than you’d like, you’re probably carving your racket under the ball instead of hitting through it. Tilt your strings a little more towards the direction you want to hit it, instead of towards the sky, to fix this problem.

There’s a lot to remember when you’re at the net. So I broke it town into a short checklist, that covers everything you’ll need. Once you start using this volley checklist, I guarantee you’ll start making more volleys and feeling more confident to be at the net.

Hitting a forehand volleyThree Keys To Good Volley Technique

1. Position – Where did I hit the volley?

Don’t hit volleys from the service line.

We want to always be at least halfway between the service line and net. It’s much easier to clear the net, and drive the ball down into the court, or at your opponents feet, if you’re closer to the net.

Of course, the half volley is a shot that you’ll have to hit from the service line sometimes, but we’re not covering that here.

2. Momentum – Which way was I moving when I hit the volley?

Make sure you’re moving forward. NOT sideways or backward.

This is the most important tip on the list. You’re body weight and feet should be leaning and moving forward into the shot. When you move forward, towards the net, good things happen.

A lot of people are scared to rush the net too aggressively because they might get hit. Actually, if you’re on your heels, then you’re MUCH more likely to get hit. You can do an exercise where someone tosses a ball at you while you’re on your heels, then again while you’re on the balls of your feet. It’s easier to dodge the ball when you’re on the balls of your feet.

But I don’t want to get lobbed.

If you’re moving forward on the volley it will drive into the court and they’ll have a tough time lobbing.

Also, make them lob you first, then we’ll worry about it. Odds are for every lob they make, you’ll win at least 2 points by moving in and closing. Communicate with your doubles partner on how to handle the lobs, I typically have my partner cover the lob since I prefer to charge the net 🙂

3. Contact – Where did the racket make contact with the ball?

The whole point here is to not let the ball drop!

Too many people back up to let the ball bounce, or drop below their waist before hitting it. Intuitively this makes no sense, but I see it over and over. Close fast and under control. A volley hit from shoulder height is much easier than a volley hit from your knees. It’s not only easier to make that volley, but it also allows you to be more aggressive and put the ball away.

Work with your partner or your coach, and ask these questions after points. Have them tell you when they see you moving backward on a volley, or letting the ball drop. A lot of times you’ll think you’re moving forward but you might be going sideways. It’s hard to answer these questions for yourself all the time so work with the people around you.

The Catch

As easy as this checklist is, you’ll find a lot of these items feel uncomfortable for you. That’s because you may have developed bad habits that you’ll have to break. Remember, what feels comfortable for you hasn’t been working. Try something different! Over time, using these three points, it will feel more comfortable, especially when you start winning.