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Forehand Volley Instruction

The forehand volley is not as natural a stroke as the backhand volley. It actually requires more "feel".

For young beginners, I recommend they start learning the forehand volley with either an Eastern forehand or Continental grip. The Continental grip is easily the most preferred grip of top exponents of this shot.

For any volley, you should be in a crouched ready position. Think of yourself as a big cat, like a tiger, at the net -- ready to pounce on your prey. If you ever get a chance to watch videos of Pat Cash, Stefan Edberg or Pat Rafter playing tennis, observe their ready positions. All three moved superbly around the net. All three also had superb forehand volley technique.

For two of the best forehand volleys in the game today, watch how well Roger Federer and Tim Henman play the shot.

The Stroke

In the ready position, keep your elbows a comfortable distance out in front of your body. This will help you volley well out in front of your body. Have your wrist cocked with the racquet head above the height of your wrist. Your left hand should be supporting the racquet at the throat.

As the ball comes toward your forehand volley, you have two choices . . .

  1. You can either turn your hips and shoulders as you step forward and to the right with your left foot . . .
  2. Or you can remain in a more front-on position with your shoulders remaining square-on to the net.

In both instances, your racquet arm should be preparing the racquet head to meet the ball at the exact point of contact. The sooner you can get the racquet head in position, the more time you'll have to play your volley.

In preparation for contact, your wrist should be cocked so that the racquet head is above the wrist. You'll find that a cocked wrist gives you a much stronger brace as you prepare to hit hard balls. Your racquet face should be either parallel to the net or slightly open.

Now, as you make contact, if you are an advanced player, slide the strings under the ball -- here's where the real feel comes in -- to give the ball the underspin to create the penetration and 'bite' that you want on your shot. Another useful tip to remember is, for balls slightly above net height or lower, to finish the stroke with your wrist and racquet head slightly higher than the contact point of the shot.

At no stage should you "fold" your wrist forward, as this will guarantee a most unhappy result.

High Forehand Volley

Quite often, you have to play a high forehand volley as you make the transition from the baseline to the net. Leaving the drive volley aside, the biggest tip I can give you here is about the footwork that you use.

To generate pace, the most effective means of doing this is to "run through" the shot. Plant with your right foot, and then as you play the stroke, move your left leg forwards so that it's in sync with your racquet arm as you swing forwards towards the ball.

Another hugely valuable tip I can give you is to use the muscle at the front of your shoulder to give the arm the impetus it needs as it begins its swing. In preparation for the shot, get your racquet as quickly as possible to the height from which you will play the shot. The backswing in preparation for the shot, and the shot itself, should be two very distinct components of the high forehand volley. In other words, the shot should not be attempted with one continuous motion.

Rod Laver and Tony Roche

For more comment on the forehand volley, check out this forehand volley advice for teaching the "feel" of the shot.

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