The Backhand Volley
One-handed backhand volley
Understanding the different stages of development. A young kid who is learning the game or an adult who is still building their strength should learn to volley with two-hands on the backhand side. It is interesting to note that Pete Sampras volleyed with two-hands as a kid. Once he had developed the strength and correct arm position he switched over to a one-handed backhand volley. If strength is an issue for you or your kid, you should do the same!
It is interesting to note. If you watch people closely enough if they lack the strength and/or have a forehand volley grip, very often they are still holding on with the left hand at point of impact. It’s easier to see when viewed using slow-motion video footage.
The preferred grip is the backhand grip, with the base knuckle and index finger on the right side of number 1 or eastern backhand for the right-hander. (Left side of number 1 for the left-hander). The most commonly taught grip is the continental, the reasons are explained in more detail in the forehand volley section.
It’s interesting when going around to junior tournaments around the US and Europe to see kids who think they are volleying with a continental grip who in actual fact are volleying with a composite forehand volley grip. When people volleyed with a true continental grip the forehand volley was the weaker side, but today most juniors, unbeknown to them, volley with a forehand grip. So now their racquet face now points closer to 90 degrees, this now makes the backhand volley the weaker side as they don’t adjust their wrist position and as a result the swing down and across their body.
Two-handed backhand volley
The right-hand is on the right side of 1 (left side of 1 for lefty’s) exactly like the one-handed volley. The left, non-dominant, hand in on the middle of L3. You push more with the non-dominant hand.
The swing path is a straight line like you are pushing the ball. You want to eliminate the backswing then push forward through the contact point, using your body momentum and the pace of the incoming ball are your power sources. If you block the ball it means that the racquet had to slow down up to the contact point, which would cause the ball to go down.
The arm position
The elbow starts bent in the ready position and then it should straighten during the unit turn. You want the arm to remain relatively straight throughout the rest of the shot.
The left arm (non-dominant arm)
Newton’s Third Law: For every action there is an equal opposite reaction.
As the hitting arm begins going forward the non-hitting arm goes backwards. The arms together with the body should resemble the letter T at the point of contact. Ideally you would like the palm of your hand to point downwards.
Developmental stage: The two-handed backhand volley
The left hand remains on the racquet it does not go back.
Momentum. You want to make sure that you take small steps to the ball and then take a large step as you contact the ball so you are moving through the contact zone.
At the point of contact the racquet face is nearly vertical, your eyes should be at the hit, the shoulders should be sideways. Your front foot should still be moving forward and not in contact with the court.
You should remain sideways with your shoulders as much as possible. Your left hand should behind you, with your arm horizontal, parallel to the court surface.
To help you keep the racquet out in front, make sure you can see the racquet out of the corner of your eye as you watch the incoming ball. Once the racquet disappears from your vision, you have taken too big a swing and have lost kinethesis which will prevent you from knowing where exactly your racquet is and what the racquet face is doing.
Drill to help with this
As you turn you should try keep your hitting hand along the same horizontal plane, feeling as if you are pushing it forward, using a net and turning whilst keeping the hand over the net will help you understand what the hand should be doing.