MADE POPULAR BY the likes of Andre Agassi and the Williams sisters, the swinging volley is a common stroke in the modern game. Although labelled a volley by defini- tion because the ball is struck before it hits the ground, technically the shot is similar to a groundstroke.
Many coaches consider the swinging volley difficult and best reserved for advanced players, but with focused prac- tice, you can learn when to best hit the shot and how to execute it correctly.
The best time to hit a swinging volley is when the trajectory of the opponent’s recovery shot is too low to hit an overhead and too high to hit a finishing volley with control, says Charly Rasheed, tennis director at Wild Dunes Resort, Isle of the Palms, South Carolina. Imagine the opponent in poor court position and their ball softly floating towards you, a ball that would otherwise land around the service line. This describes a perfect ball to hit out of the air as a swinging volley.
At the very least, the swinging volley is an attacking shot that takes time away from a rival and opposes the will of the aggressor.
“The swinging volley allows a player to hit aggressive- ly and with disguise. The ball has more speed than a flat volley and can also produce enough spin to make the ball challenging to return once it bounces,” explains Ken DeHart, USPTA master professional. The swinging volley will give the shot more pace and has the potential to finish the point before the opponent recovers.
The keys to hitting any sound tennis stroke are prepara- tion, anticipation and footwork, and the swinging vol- ley is no exception. Cesar Villarroel, Mission Inn Resort & Club director of Tennis & Fitness, Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, explains a swinging volley is much like that of a ground stroke. “As soon as you know your opponent is in trouble, move a few steps inside the baseline and forward to hit the ball high above your waist,” says
Villarroel, adding that the open stance works best for the swinging vol- ley because it helps with trunk rotation and power.
Some coaches suggest that their students hit the stroke with a closed stance, however DeHart agrees with Villarroel and says a wide stance is rec- ommended. Right- handed players should approach the ball while maintain- ing balance and good footwork. Strike the ball at about chest-shoulder height, with weight transferring from the right foot to the left, allowing the body to travel through the ball instead of tilting forward. Momentum should carry the player toward the net.
If executed correctly, the player hits a swinging volley before the opponent recovers from the previous stroke and with enough pace and control to end the point.
The swinging volley is considered an advanced shot. With some practice, the shot will help complete the serious player’s arsenal.
TIPS to Hit a Swinging Volley
- STROKE LEVEL: Advanced
- GRIP: Use your preferred ground stroke grip. If an eastern grip is your grip of choice, consider using a semi-western grip for a swing- ing volley.
- BODY POSITION: Remain in an open-stance or semi-open stance while approaching the ball. Right-handed players should approach the shot with the left foot in front of the right. This allows the body to travel through the ball instead of tilting forward.
- THE SWING: Start with your weight on the back foot, the rac- quet take back shallow, and when striking the ball, swing low to high to create topspin.
- STRIKE ZONE: The difference between a swinging volley and a normal ground stroke is the swinging volley strike zone is higher, shoulder height instead of at the waist.
- FINISH: Allow momentum to carry you forward to the net with the racquet head finishing around the neck. If this stroke doesn’t end the point, be prepared for an easy put-away volley.
This article is from the May / June 2012 issue
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