Reflex Volleys: Improvable Skill

You’re playing competitive doubles and the opposing net man drives the ball right at you … and you “reflex” volley it back for a surprise winner.  But it wasn’t a “surprise” to you; because you actually practice that shot.

Practice Makes Better

My regular practice partner Bob Wilkie and I end every practice session with a series of “nose to nose” reflex volleys.  We both load up with practice balls, start at the service line T, and volley back and forth.

Two keys to the session are that we do NOT baby the shot… if there is a high ball, we drive it at the other guy.  And, that is great practice for actual game shots.  And rather than standing static on the tee, the guy who can take the “offense” closes tighter to the net.

At the end of this session, we won’t leave the court until we have a rally of at least 15 consecutive shots.  Sometimes we get there in the first few balls; but sometimes we have to work to get the full 15.

Game Day Difference

The big difference in actual match play, is that you have to break yourself of the habit of always driving the volley AT the opposing net player… because it is much better to angle away a winner, rather than allowing your opponent to “surprise” you with their own reflex volley winner.

Bryan Brothers Drill

There is a viral video of the Bryan brothers practicing their volleys by continually crossing parallel to the net.  It is a good drill, but a much tougher one to master (at my level, at least).  To see it, click HERE

How about you… do you practice this skill?

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2 thoughts on “Reflex Volleys: Improvable Skill

  1. This doesn’t fit in with your angle theory, but one of my favorite volley games to end a practice is kind of like what you describe, except we keep score and the only way you can score a point is if your opponent makes an “error”. If you hit it away from him and he can’t get a racquet on the ball, he calls “out of reach” and it’s no point. It teaches you to keep the ball low and drive it hard if it ever gets up high. Also helps with focus and hitting at your opponents feet, since you become a target if you hit up to your opponent!

    Mike, great. i will try it. thanks, george

  2. My friend in FL, Dave Weber, introduced a very good volley drill for our Lee County team. Three players on the court. The two on one side have one at the baseline ((with 6 or more balls) and one at the service line. The lone player on the other side is at the service line. The baseline player hits a ground stroke to the net man who volleys it cross court to the other net man who volleys it back to the net man, who then volleys down the line to the baseline player… and so on. That way the single player is volleying cross court and the down the line over and over. Then you rotate positions when all the balls have been played. We try to keep it in play for as long as we can and increase the pace as we go along. Good practice not to hit it right back at the player who hit it to you.

    Jim, thanks for reminding me of this excellent three man drill. very challenging and effective. george

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