Five of the most common errors on the backhand volley

Five of the most common backhand volley errors: 


1:  Wrong Grip

Mistake:  People often use a forehand grip, which is fine for putting away a very high forehand volley, but it’s not much good on the backhand side or for most other types of forehand volley come to that. It promotes the dreaded ‘reverse volley’ whereby you hit the ball on the same side of the racket for the forehand and the backhand (resembling window wipers), resulting in a weak and inconsistent shot. It also means you’re putting extreme strain on your wrist and elbow because there’s simply not enough wrist and forearm support behind the handle.  This causes the shot to collapse and often results in a lot of under spin with zero power.


Fix:  Use the chopper grip (which sits between the forehand and backhand grips) or get as close to it as possible – and use it for both wings, thus eliminating the need to change grips at the net.  It will enable you to develop a more penetrating forehand volley while also offering versatility on the backhand side.  It will feel strange at first, particularly on the forehand, but if you persevere it will soon feel comfortable.


2:  Dropping the racket head on contact

Mistake: When the racket head collapses on contact the ball shoots up in the air, offering your opponent more time and more choices – including smacking one right at you!  It can also have the effect of dragging the ball into the bottom of the net.  This is often the result of a weak grip, but not exclusively.


Fix:  When you’re at the net ensure that you’re in a good ready position with your racket head higher than your wrist at about a 90° angle, creating a strong V-shape.    Try to keep the racket above your wrist on all your volley returns.


3:  Inadequate use of the non-dominant hand

Mistake: Players often don’t make sufficient use of their non-dominant hand (left hand for a right handed player and vice versa) which means they are making life very hard for themselves.  It results in a lack of racket head control causing the shot collapse.


Fix:  Two hands are better than one so support the racket at the throat with your non-dominant hand as you set the racket behind the oncoming ball. Let go just before you make contact with the ball and as you do so pull your elbow back as a counter balance to the hit.  Using your other hand in this way helps to keep the racket head above your wrist (as in point 2) and acts as a lever to help you get more ‘bite’ on the ball.


4:  Contacting the ball too far in front

Mistake:  Players often make contact too far in front (as they would correctly do so on the forehand) as if they’re ‘fishing’ for the ball. The racket head collapses, weakening the shot and limiting options in terms of direction. 


Fix: The optimum point of contact on the backhand volley is more to the side than out in front.  So, let the ball come to you a bit more.  In theory it should be the easiest shot in tennis because you have a lot more time!


5:  Hitting down too much

Mistake:  A lot of players tend to use an exaggerated downward flight of the racket (i.e. the racket travels too steeply from high to low) dragging the ball into the net or causing it to float and sit up when it hits the ground for the opponent to attack.


Fix: You do want to hit from high to low but more shallow.  You also need to ensure that the racket is going forwards with the bottom edge leading the way as you do so.  It’s as if you are sliding your racket along a table top.

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2 comments to Five of the most common errors on the backhand volley

  • I liked the volley tips. WHP used to have some handcuffs to keep the wrists as close as possible when teaching the volley.

    The kids were more receptive to handcuffs than the adults!

    Or maybe it was just a way of keeping the kids under control, the youngsters at WHP were nearly always well behaved.

  • Great tips. Thanks also to the team for a great tennis break at Bisham Abbey. We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to book another break next year.

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