Tennis 101:

Perfecting the Volley

January 1, 2017

Want to learn how to volley in tennis like Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and some of the other greats of the game?

Here are a few tips from Elliott Pettit of USTA Player Development to get you started.

Tennis Volleys for Beginners

You will be tempted to hold the racquet directly in front of your face and “fly swatter” the ball straight down. What you want to do from the beginning, however, is use the continental grip and make contact with the ball off to the side, not directly in front of your body. Do not hit from straight on. You should be comfortable with striking the ball to the side of your body.


An easy phrase to use when hitting the volley is “squeeze and freeze.” When you make contact with the ball, “squeeze” the grip and try to “freeze” your momentum. Most people have trouble with volleys because they are trying to do too much. ADVERTISEMENT They’re trying to swing at the ball. But if you repeat the mantra, “squeeze and freeze,” it keeps things very simple and increases the chance of success.


Volley Improvement for Intermediate Players

Intermediate players should start to take more of a step when hitting a volley and experimenting with different volley drills. Your body steps into the ball a little bit more, and you should be able to control the volley to the left or to the right and start to control the ball either deep or short in the court. This is done by taking different-sized steps. The harder you step and the harder you squeeze the grip, the farther the ball goes.

Mastering Your Volleys: Tennis for Advanced Players

Advanced players should be adept at putting the ball left, right, deep or short. You can hit a hard put-away volley or be able to hit a drop volley, which is done by softening up your hands as the ball comes in so that it will just barely go over the net. At this level, you should understand offensive and defensive situations at the net and be able to respond with the appropriate volley.


Practice with the squeeze and freeze method, and partake in different volley drills when you step onto the court. Use these tips at all levels of your game to improve your skills with a tennis volley.


2016 1026 Coach Elliott Pettit CP

Elliott Pettit is the National Manager of Growth & Innovation for Parent and Youth Orgs at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.

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