Hitting a good pickleball volley, as we discussed in Part 1 of “How to Hit a Pickleball Volley,” is quite challenging. In Part 1 we defined the pickleball volley and looked at three types of volleys:
- Pickleball Swing Volley
- Pickleball Snap Swing Volley
- Pickleball Attack Volley
In this article, Part 2, we focus on other aspects of the pickleball volley: (1) how to practice, and (2) how to use the sweet spot volley drill. We also take a look at slow-motion video of the volley technique and discuss how to improve the volley shot. I do not have to tell you how important the volley is in the game of pickleball. You have to get it right to keep a rally going or you will surely lose the point.
Practicing the Pickleball Volley
In this video, a segment from The Pickleball Coach, Jordan Briones breaks down the mechanics of the volley for the forehand and backhand. Start in the ready position: knees bent, paddle out in front of you. Turn your paddle face towards the target. Hit a short punch out in front. Don’t take a big swing or use your wrist. The contact point should always be out in front of you. Then get back in ready position after every shot. Briones’ video is very good. It is easy to understand and easy to duplicate if you are willing to practice pickleball volley drills on your own.
The Sweet Spot Volley Drill
In this next video from Prime Time Pickleball called the “Sweet Spot Volley Drill” Marcin Rozpedski – a National Champion, US Open Champion and Tournament of Champions Champion – demonstrates a fascinating drill designed to improve your volley shots.
This drill requires a great deal of self-discipline. How many of us will go out on the court and practice returning volleys with the tip of the handle of our pickleball paddle? Probably not too many of us. All we want to do is play games. But the logic behind the drill is so intuitive, that is, if you can hit the ball with the tip of your paddle handle you can surely find the sweet spot of the paddle when you volley. Taking it a step further, even if you can’t hit the ball while doing the drill, it will still help you find the sweet spot for just about any shot.
Slow-Motion Pickleball Volley Technique
Here is another video from Mark Renneson of Third Shot Sport called “Slow-Motion Pickleball Volley Technique.” This is a short video that succinctly demonstrates perfect volley form.
- Contact is out front
- Paddle is stable at impact
- Player is in balanced position
Notice that the paddle face is always open for both forehand and backhand volleys hit from the kitchen line. The obvious reason is that you have to hit the ball slightly upwards to clear the net. Like Harrison, Renneson takes a very short back swing. You just don’t have a lot of time for a long back swing when you are volleying at the net. The volley is essentially a short crisp shot regardless of which technique you use. Finally, like Harrison, Renneson is square to the net in ready position before and after each shot. This obviously is most important when volleying from the kitchen line.
How to Improve your Pickleball Volley
Last video, I promise. This video is an episode from Pickleball 411 with 5.0 player Scott Moore entitled “3 Mistakes to Avoid when Volleying.” Let’s watch the video.
Like Renneson and Harrison, Moore explains that the volley is a very important but difficult shot to master. Here are the three mistakes to avoid when volleying:
- Hit it too hard when the ball comes to you low. This can cause you to hit the ball into the net, too long or into your opponent’s strike zone.
- Allowing the ball to get too close to your body. This can cause you to lose the good angle of being able to hit downward and will give your opponent more time to react.
- Retreating during a volley exchange by allowing yourself to be pushed back from the kitchen line. This gives your opponent better angles to hit at your feet and more time to react.
We covered a lot of territory in these two articles on the pickleball volley by examining a handful of different types of volleys. The more volley styles or techniques you have the more opportunities you will have to deliver the right shot at the right time from the no-volley or kitchen line.
My experience is that as I get older my reaction time has slowed a bit, and both my reflexes and eye-hand coordination are not as sharp as when I was younger. So the volley is sometimes a very difficult shot for me. I have to be disciplined to get into the proper ready position before and after I hit a volley. I have to concentrate on keeping my paddle up and my eyes on the ball as the ball goes back and forth over the net during a quick rally. Even though I have a reasonable repertoire of volley shots it is just not an easy shot for me anymore.
How is your volley shot? Do you use any of the techniques discussed in this article? Do you have a go-to volley shot? I hope you enjoyed this article on the pickleball volley. I look forward to hearing from you about the volley or anything that has to do with pickleball.