The pros make volleying look so easy, don’t they? They are always poised, ready, and fast on their feet when it’s time to take action. What we often don’t think about when we compare ourselves to the pros is how many thousands of hours of practice they’ve put in to get there, and thus feel down and discouraged by our own ability.
The good news is that there are a ton of different things you can do to improve your volleys hugely in just a short space of time. Here are six ways you can improve as soon as possible.
6 Ways to Drastically Improve Your Volley
Ways to Improve Your Volley #1: Check Your Basics
Whether you’re new to tennis or have been playing for years, it’s always good practice to go back and check on your basics. Think about your ready position; where are your feet, where are you looking, are you ready to move? Do you have your grip and racket in a good ready position? Generally, you want to hold your racket in front of your chest with your non-hitting hand supporting it. If your racket is too low or parallel to your body you’ll struggle to be ready when the ball comes.
Way to Improve Your Volley #2: Step Forward to Meet the Ball
Are you waiting for the ball to come to you or are you stepping forward to meet it? Ask a friend to film you and watch how you are volleying the ball — ideally, have them film you not only when you know why they are filming you but also when you’re distracted in a game. This way, you’ll be able to see how you are naturally volleying and can spot if you are holding back and making big swings, instead of stepping forward and keeping the racket in front of you.
Ways to Improve Your Volley #3: Practice, Practice, Practice
Have you heard of the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice at something to become a master? While the jury is out on how true this is, you can’t get better at something if you aren’t doing it regularly. If you want to improve your volleys, spend extra time practicing drills and playing friends — it’s not a sexy answer to your problem but it’s an effective one! Just make sure you are warming up, cooling down, and caring for your body effectively to avoid injury.
Ways to Improve Your Volley #4: Play Someone Who Wants to Beat You
While playing with a friend and deciding you both want to practice your volleys will help, you’ll likely both get more out of your time together if you play to win once in a while. This way you’ll have to think on your feet and practice all types of volley without necessarily being prepared for what’s coming.
Ways to Improve Your Volley #5: Do Drills Alone with the Wall
In contrast to the last point, playing with a wall will provide you with a consistent baseline and is great for when you want to concentrate on getting in as many repetitions as quickly as possible. Use the wall to run drills alone, which is particularly useful if you don’t always have someone to practice with. A simple search on YouTube for “volley wall drills” will provide you with plenty of different exercises you can practice to improve your volleys.
Ways to Improve Your Volley #6: Practice in a Doorway
Sounds crazy, right? If you’re hitting your volleys late you are likely taking too much of a backswing, and a great way to break this bad habit is to practice your volley in a doorway. How does this work? Stand on one side of the (open) doorway and step forward through the door, as if you are about to hit a forehand or backhand volley. If you have too much backswing, you’ll hit the doorframe or wall before you actually punch forward to volley. If you’re in a safe place, get a friend to volley the ball to you. You’ll break your habit fast with this drill.