Tennis Backhand Volley
This article explains the differences in the tennis backhand volley compared to the forehand volley. Please refer back to the prior tennis volley posts to review the volley technique if you haven’t already.
Tennis Backhand Volley: Non-Dominant Hand
The tennis backhand volley is very similar to the forehand volley with a few slight differences. Due to having your non-dominate hand grasping the racquet longer on the backhand volley than on the forehand volley, you should know how to use the non-dominant hand to your advantage. Many players will grasp the throat of the racquet with their non-dominate hand and utilize it for racquet stability. The non-dominant hand can help support the racquet head, help guide the racquet head back slightly to open up the racquet face, and act as a wall to ensure the racquet doesn’t go too far back.
For example, I like to hold the throat of my racquet with my non-dominant hand and lift my non-dominant elbow up away from my body creating the wall that prevents my racquet from going further back. Other players keep both their elbows down out in front of their body and inside shoulder width so that the body prevents the racquet from being taken back further. Both ways are equally effective, it boils down to individual preference.
Backhand Volley Technique: Staying on Balance
Once the racquet begins to swing forward to contact the ball the non-dominant hand releases from the throat of the racquet and travels the opposite direction to help your shoulders stay turned sideways and to help keep your body on balance.
Tennis Backhand Volley: Strength and Comfort
Players that are younger or do not feel in control or lack the strength to hit the backhand effectively with the one handed backhand volley may choose to hit the volley with two hands on the grip. The hitting hand will still hold the continental grip and the non-dominant hand will grasp the grip similarly to what is described in he two-handed backhand grip section.
The two-handed backhand volley provides more support and can help players gain confidence on the backhand volley. However, the player sacrifices reach when volleying with two hands and in most cases should be transitioned to the one handed backhand volley when capable.
Tennis Volley Frustrations?
Have you ever felt clueless about what to do when the ball is hit directly at your body? I can remember practicing as a junior and getting frustrated as my friend aimed for my hips on the volleys. I would step backwards, hop out of the way, or do a curtsy as an attempt to try and find space to hit a proper volley. I also wanted to hit a great ball instead of having patience and learning the proper way to volley the ball when it was hit right at me.
There will be times when you don’t have time to take the steps necessary to set up for a traditional volley. This often happens when two players are up at net volleying agressively or the opponent drills the ball with pace right at you. When this happens hitting the backhand volley is typically the best option.
Tennis Backhand Volley: Returning the Ball Hit at Your Body
From the ready position you will bring your hitting elbow up away from your body so that your racquet face is facing the net and out in front of your body’s mid section. From there you want to drive your racquet through the tennis ball with your shoulder, time permitting.
What I have found that helps with volleying balls hit around your hips and you have a little bit of time is taking a step diagonally forward but away from the ball with your inside foot. By taking a diagonal step away from the ball you will be able to create more space and hopefully hit a more formal volley.
Tennis backhand volleys are difficult especially when the ball is hit around your hips. To develop comfort volleying balls around your mid section takes a LOT of practice. Enjoy the process and have patience.
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