The volley is one of the most commonly used swings in pickleball, and when you’re in the middle of a game, it is most likely going to be a technique you see being used often when a player possesses the reaction speed to make a quick and speedy return to their opponent’s side of the court.
The good news is that because of how lightweight and easy to handle the paddles are in pickleball, it makes learning the move relatively easy with it only requiring a decent amount of practice and experience.
However, there are a few things to know about a volley so that you can utilize it correctly and reliably each and every time, so here is everything you need to know about this move including how to hit a volley, when you should use it, and how it can take your game to another level.
How Does A Volley Work?
A volley is when a player returns a ball before it reaches the ground, resulting in a fast and sudden shot.
The technique is a great way to provide a quick and unexpected response back to your opponent since it disrupts the flow of the game by removing an expected bounce.
While many players will first get the hang of the groundstroke, which simply means a shot after a ball has bounced, the volley is usually seen as the next type of swing to learn, being recognized as a slightly more advanced technique that will allow you to elevate your game.
How To Hit A Volley
Because a volley needs to be hit so suddenly and requires a great reaction time, you won’t have any time to set up a backswing, so the main thing to practice when trying to execute a volley is simply hitting the ball in a blocking motion with no backswing afterward.
You can either face the front of the paddle towards the ball, or you can also strike the ball with a backhand, so long as you are aiming it vertically and are attempting to push the ball over the net rather than guide it, your volley will come out just fine.
If you want to hit the ball a little deeper with a volley, try opening the paddle face slightly more when you hit the return.
You should also always keep a loose grip so that you can dictate the power of your swing a lot easier, otherwise it can be easy to overextend or for the ball to flick too high if your grip is too stiff.
In terms of where you should aim when hitting a volley, you have a few different options, and choosing the right one should depend on your opponent’s weaknesses.
Hitting a volley down the middle is always reliable and easier to pull off, but you’re also not extending the reach of the ball either way, so there’s no chance of outsmarting your opponent, and trying to pull it off in a doubles game is even more difficult.
You should therefore try to either hit directly at the opponent for a body shot, or on the side of the court that the opponent is using with their backhand since this will force them to make an uncomfortable swing which is especially effective in rallies when every shot must count.
When You Should Hit A Volley?
Most players will attempt to hit a volley during any point of a rally since players will have a lot less time to react and will therefore attempt to get the one up on their opponent with a fast and clever return.
You are also allowed to volley the ball in pickleball if the opponent makes the mistake of overextending their serve, however, this doesn’t work exactly the same as in tennis because there are certain parts of the court in pickleball where you won’t be able to volley a serve, so it’s not seen often during a game, especially at high levels.
Volleying In The Kitchen
In accordance with the official rules of pickleball, it is illegal for a player to volley a ball back to their opponent if they are physically standing within the kitchen area which extends to the edge of each court.
However, the rules aren’t exactly that straightforward, and there are a few exploits and ways to get around the kitchen rule that are all legal within a game, as long as they are executed correctly.
Some players with good athleticism and knowledge of the game will hit the ball while jumping over the kitchen before then landing on the side of the court.
This is perfectly legal, so long as the player never touches the ground physically, otherwise this would result in a fault.
A player is also allowed to hover over their body over the kitchen with their paddle in order to volley a ball, but they must always be standing on or behind the kitchen line.
It will also be considered a fault if your momentum carries your body over the kitchen after you volley it from the outside, or if you land within the zone after volleying in the air.
You can see how the kitchen is designed to keep players from hitting lighting-speed volleys since this would be near impossible for a player on the receiving end to see and react to, especially because of how small a pickleball court actually is.
If you’re starting to get a good grasp on your standard groundstrokes and are beginning to learn the more advanced techniques of pickleball which will help give you an edge over your opponent, the volley is one of the best and most reliable swings you can learn.
While practice is incredibly important when it comes to executing the perfect volley each and every time, experience really is what will help you improve since it will allow your reaction speed to increase at the same time.
The volley is an incredibly efficient and reliable swing that will enable you to earn those extra few points each game by forcing your opponent out of their comfort zone.