Tennis Serve and Volley – Tips and Strategy for the Serve and Volley

Some sport critics are even saying that the serve and volley is becoming extinct in modern tennis. Less professional players are using the serve and volley in their games. However, this stroke should be perfectly executed from the serve to the volley or else you will lose a point instead winning one.

However, the tennis serve and volley does have advantages and some of them are:

  • The Tennis Serve and Volley move can surprise your opponent
  • The serve and volley is an ideal tactic to conserve energy or to rest from long and tiresome rallies
  • This combination move disrupts your opponent’s momentum and concentration, and
  • It can scare your opponent forcing him to make unforced errors.

Serve and Volley Strategies

Strategy # 1 – Wide serve and open court volley

The first strategy in the tennis serve and volley is to serve wide and then volley in the open court. A wide serve means to hit the corners of the sidelines but not beyond them. Once your wide serve is done perfectly, you have to move as fast you can towards the net by following the direction of the ball. In most cases, players stop in the T section of the court if the opponent is able to return the ball early. The T section means the intersection between the service line and the vertical line in the middle of the court. At this stage, your eyes should be glued on the ball. If your opponent’s return is directed down the line, you have the option of hitting a cross-court volley as quickly as possible to the open court.

If you hit the ball in the open court, it makes for a very difficult pass for your opponent if he manages to reach the ball. After you hit the ball, immediately move towards the net, in doing so be sure to cover the down the line shot, in case he is able to return your first volley.

Strategy #2 – Wide serve and wrong foot

The wide serve is commonly used in the tennis serve and volley move. Here, you should again execute a perfect wide serve. Then, move to the net as quickly as you can. Follow the direction of the ball as you move towards the net. This time, if your opponent chooses to return the ball crosscourt, you should return the shot with a cross court volley so that the ball lands at the back of your opponent.

When your opponent hits a cross court shot, this means that his or her recovery position is further towards the middle of the court. This puts him in a vulnerable position which is a good time to make him or her off balance. Generally, this strategy does not give you a clear winner, but it can force the opponent to hit a weak or off balanced return. If this is the case, you can position yourself near the net and cover the down the line passing shot. At this instance, you must also anticipate that your opponent might reply with a lob over your head.

Strategy #3 – Down the middle serve and wrong foot

Although the wide serve is commonly used in the serve and volley, a down the middle serve can also be very effective in a tennis serve and volley. Serving in down the middle (or T) is an excellent tactic as it creates a situation that lessens your opponent’s chances to return a cross-court ball or to hit down the line.

Upon serving the down the middle serve, move as fast as you can towards the net and remember to follow the ball’s direction. This return volley will put your opponent in a vulnerable situation because when he returns your serve he must recover towards the center of the court. Hitting the first volley behind him rather than to the open court will wrong foot him, causing him to be off balance and unprepared for your volley. Immediately after you hit the ball, position yourself near the net and cover any possible shot that your opponent may hit.

Tennis Strokes commonly used in the serve and volley

The Backhand volley

Grip and ready position

The tennis grip which is commonly used in the backhand volley is the continental grip. The ready position when you are about to hit the volley is with your left hand supporting your racket at the throat.

A split step should be executed by a short hop. Once you are up in the air, separate your feet widely and then turn you body sideways towards the ball. The split step execution is very crucial because you can’t just do this step anytime. You have to time it perfectly with your opponent‘s contact point.

Backhand Volley Takeback

The backhand volley does not require a big swing. Instead, think of it as a block volley that starts once your right foot (right handed player) steps forward which brings you in a sideways position. Then use your left hand which is positioned on the racket throat to help you guide the shot. In a backhand volley, you don’t need a backswing, but instead just do a short backswing.

Ideally it is best to have the point of contact just in front of your head. Always remember to fix your eyes unto the ball before and after the point of contact.

The Forehand volley

Grip and ready position

As mentioned above, the use of the continental grip is easy when you do a backhand or forehand volley, you must remember to switch from the forehand grip to the continental when you are going to hit a forehand or backhand volley. Continental grip is most advisable for all tennis players learning how to execute the tennis serve and volley.

The split-step is executed by jumping slightly on your toes to elevate your feet off the ground. Then, spread your legs apart while you are airborne. Use the split step to help turn your body and feet towards the direction of the ball. Timing is very important here. You only do the split-step when your opponent makes contact with the ball.

Take back

A backswing in the forehand volley execution is not needed. Hence only a short and compact take back is needed to execute the forehand volley.

Point of Contact

In the forehand tennis volley, hitting the ball with perfect timing ensures an effective and quality volley. The earlier and quicker you hit the ball, the better your volley will be. Hitting the tennis volley early can also surprise your opponent. Avoid hitting the ball too late or your volley won’t be effective, because they lose the surprise aspect of the volley. In addition, aside from hitting the ball early, you should also be always aggressive and also maintain forward momentum.

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