The Forehand Volley…. Float like a Butterfly, Punch like Muhammad Ali


“IMG_8541wa backswing” by Kevin Bryant “CC BY-NC-SA”

It is one of the most deceptive shots in tennis. I mean this is the type of shot that your ‘old, country club grandpa’ mastered when he played tennis yet when you try to attempt it, you look like the older one. As a self-taught player, nothing seemed easier than the forehand volley. Think about it, all you really do is point the racquet at an oncoming and it goes to the other side, right? If that’s your mentality towards a volley, good luck finding a doubles partner that will appreciate your volleying skills at the net. The fact of the matter is, a volley is not an easy shot. Being close to the net shortens your ability to react to the ball especially when it’s coming in at different heights.  It requires quick hand-eye coordination, firm wrist, short swing and an aggressive state of mind. It is a short, compact shot. The example used among tennis coaches is that a volley is similar to a punch- short and compact. A volley is a complicated shot to master. I have split this blog and will only focus on the forehand volley for now. Let’s begin….


With every tennis shot you hit, you need to have the right grip. Look back at my previous posts about grips to learn more or refresh yourself on the different types. When it comes to a forehand volley, you will use a continental grip. After you have the right grip, the first step is to pivot and turn your shoulders. Come out of the split step and pivot with your outside foot and transfer your weight to that foot. Get the heel of your outside foot and turn your shoulders. Now, unlike a forehand, you want to take the racquet back with you wrist when you pivot and turn with your shoulders. The hitting hand should be stays between the front and back shoulder, but the head of the racquet is further back. In doing so, the arm position completes your preparation and now you’re ready to swing forward to the tennis ball.

Swing to Contact

There are two things you need to do once you’ve pivoted and turned your shoulders. First, swing forward to the ball by stepping forward into the court with your inside foot and transfer weight to that foot. Next, swing your arm forward and racquet to make contact with the ball. The key is to have the contact point in front of you. Always be behind the ball when hitting a volley. Another key element is to have a short, compact swing. Don’t chop down on the ball.


So, remember to pivot and turn your shoulders. Bring the racquet back with your wrist and swing forward to your contact point by driving the racket and arm together. Make the contact in front of your body and after the contact, make sure to have a short follow through.

There aren’t many steps for a forehand volley, but performing the ones listed above are tough. Professional players work tirelessly to perfect their technique every practice. Don’t overlook this important shot. It ends the point quicker, saves you energy and doesn’t give your opponent a chance to return it. With practice, you’re on your way to becoming an advanced player because as we all know, effort only takes you so far…