By Chris Chaffee
Weekly motivational quote: “You have to believe in the long term plan, but you need the short-term goals to motivate and inspire you,” — Roger Federer
Executing the forehand volley requires soft hands and a strong knee bend. When hitting a forehand volley you must have the correct grip, which is a continental grip. You can obtain this grip by pretending your racket is like a hammer and you’re hammering down on the net. Now, facing the net as you prepare for the incoming volley at you, make sure you’re in the proper athletic position.
This means your knees are slightly bent and you are on the balls on your feet. Your racket ready position should be facing your opponent and your elbows should be out in front (not resting in your ribs). Now, as the ball is coming to your forehand side, make sure your grip is nice and loose.
As you turn your shoulders your racket should turn to the forehand side with the hands high, racket head pointed slightly up. It is like you are, “showing your strings to your opponent.” You also want to pretend there is someone or something behind you, because you don’t want to have the contact point of your volley too far back.
A good volley starts with the racket setting out in front (like catching a ball). Have the contact point of the volley so you can see the ball hit the strings. With the incoming ball, firm up your wrist and slightly squeeze onto your grip. Step into the ball with your opposite foot (righties step with their left foot, lefties step with their right). As you are hitting, keep your racket strings steady throughout contact and let the racket lead the way forward to your intended target across the net.
One important thing to remember is when the ball isn’t coming fast, you will have time to step into it. If it is coming fast, you will only have time to block it back (no step) relying on your opponents, pace. Remember a volley is like a catch. Watch the ball. With some practice and repetition you will be volleying like John McEnroe.
Tennis volley drill: Toss a ball against a wall and catch it out in front with your dominate hand. Make sure the palm of your hand is square and not vertical.
Another great volley is volleying against the wall. Stand anywhere from 3 to 6 feet away from the wall and simply hit the ball back and forth. Try to keep it on your forehand side, backhand side or do alternate sides. This will improve your reaction time and strengthen your hand-eye coordination.
Weekly Fitness Tip: Having a solid volley requires strength in your forearm and wrist. An easy exercise you can do anytime or anywhere is simply squeezing a tennis ball. Start slow with reps of 10 and then work gradually increase from there.
Next week is the backhand volley!
Chris Chaffee lives in Fryeburg, Maine, and is a teaching tennis professional around the Mount Washington Valley. He is also a JV tennis coach at Kennett High.