If you want to take your pickleball game to the next level, you need to master the volley.

Volleying is one of the most important skills in pickleball and being able to control the net is key to winning more games. 

In this article, I’m going to break down everything you need to know about volleying in pickleball. I’ll cover proper technique, key tips to improve your volleys, and how to use volleys effectively in gameplay situations.

Volley Grip and Stance

The first thing we need to talk about is your grip and stance when volleying. 

You always want to use the continental grip when volleying in pickleball. This is when the paddle is aligned so the face is slightly open and your index finger knuckle lines up with the edge of the paddle handle.

The continental grip allows you to quickly transition between forehand and backhand volleys without having to adjust your hand placement. This is critical for being able to react faster to returns.

In your ready position, you want to stand with a wide base, knees bent, and your weight slightly forward. Keep your paddle up and angled diagonally forward. This puts you in the optimal position to move and react in any direction.

Keep Your Volleys Compact

A common mistake I see many beginner and intermediate players make is taking huge backswings on their volleys. This leads to more errors and leaves you off balance.

Instead, you want to keep your volley motion very compact. Take a short 6-12 inch backswing and brush or punch the ball with a short follow-through. 

Keeping volleys compact allows you to recover quicker and have better control. Don’t get too wrapped up in swinging hard, just focus on solid contact and placement.

Aim Low and Use Topspin

Generally, you want to aim your volleys low near your opponent’s feet. Low volleys are much harder to return with power and accuracy. 

When volleying from mid-court, use topspin to help the ball arc over the net and dive down quickly. You can create topspin by brushing up the back of the ball.

Topspin volleys are great for moving opponents back or catching them off guard as they approach the kitchen. They take time to get used to but are worth learning.

Quick Reaction Time Matters Most

Having lightning-fast reaction time and reflexes is one of the most important factors for good volley skills. You have to be able to quickly adjust your body and paddle face to balls coming from all directions at different speeds.

Here are some tips for improving volley reaction time:

– Stay on your toes in an athletic-ready position

– Keep your eyes focused on the incoming ball

– Have your paddle up and ready to strike 

– Work on lateral agility drills to move side-to-side faster

The quicker you can get your paddle stable and on the ball, the better your volleys will be.

Firm Up Your Grip on Hard Shots

When an opponent hits a hard drive or shot with pace at you, don’t make the mistake of keeping a loose grip on your volley. This leads to mishits and popping the ball up.

Instead, slightly firm up your grip pressure when volleying hard shots. This helps stabilize the paddle face to have better control. Just don’t overgrip where you reduce feel. 

Aim crosscourt targets at your opponent’s feet to keep them out of the kitchen. Firmer volleys are great counterattack options.

Use Volley Resets to Regain Control 

If an opponent attacks with a hard shot and you don’t have time to counter, use a volley reset. For this shot, keep a very loose grip and lightly absorb the ball to take power off it and drop it softly into the kitchen.

Volley resets are useful when on defense to get back into a neutral dinking rally. They take touch and practice but are valuable for countering aggressive players.

Attack Volleys Win Points

While control volleys are important, you need to be aggressive and attack any ball you can put away. Shooting volleys deep into the corners when opponents are out of position scores you points.

On high putaway volleys, use more of your shoulder and take a bigger backswing for extra power. Aim for targets in the deep court and swing with confidence. 

Practice transitioning from soft control volleys to aggressive putaways. This volley skill versatility will make you very hard to beat.

Use Drills to Improve Your Skills

Like any skill in pickleball, your volleys will get better with focused repetition. Here are some volley drills to practice:

– Wall volleying – alternate forehand and backhand

– Low/high volley reaction drills 

– Third shot drop attack volleys 

– Volley exchanges at the kitchen line

– Transition from dink to volley randomly

Try doing these volley drills for 10-15 minutes as part of your training sessions. Mixing live play points with targeted volley practice is the fastest way to improve.

Can you volley in the kitchen in pickleball?

You can’t volley in the kitchen in pickleball. The kitchen is the area within 7 feet of the net on both sides of the court. It’s marked by a line parallel to the net.

If you volley the ball while standing in the kitchen, or if you step into the kitchen after volleying the ball, you commit a fault and lose the point.

The only exception is if the ball bounces in the kitchen first, then you can enter the kitchen and hit the ball.

The kitchen rule is designed to prevent players from dominating the net and smashing the ball at their opponents. It also encourages longer rallies and more strategy.

Wrap Up

Now that you know the keys to better volleys, it just takes effort and reps. Mastering the volley can feel difficult at first, but it’s the most important skill if you want to control the net and win more pickleball games! Just stick with it and you’ll see those volley skills improve week to week.

FAQ

What is a half volley in pickleball? 

A half volley in pickleball is when you hit the ball just after it bounces on the ground, without letting it rise to its peak. It’s a difficult shot that requires good timing and coordination. Some people call it a “short hop” or a “trap shot”

What is considered a volley in pickleball? 

A volley in pickleball is when you hit the ball in the air before it bounces on the ground. You can volley the ball anywhere on the court, except in the non-volley zone.

 What is the non-volley zone in pickleball?

The non-volley zone is another name for the kitchen. It’s the area within 7 feet of the net on both sides of the court, where you can’t volley the ball. You can enter the non-volley zone to hit the ball after it bounces, or to return to your position, but you can’t touch the non-volley zone line or the ground inside the non-volley zone while volleying the ball or right after

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