The Swinging Volley

A shot that the pros hit regularly and with consistency is the swinging volley; but for us hackers, it is an iffy selection.  Gigi Fernandez provided some tips in the April issue of Tennis Magazine…

An Airborne Groundstroke

“You could call the shot in airborne ground stroke. It’s usually hit at the shoulder level or above, but the technique is similar to your regular ground strokes.  The keys to hitting this shot effectively are:

  • Shorten your backswing
  • Hit through the shot with extended follow through

  • Hit from low to high, to generate topspin

“The swinging volley is best used as an approach to get your team to the net. Don’t overhit it, and remember that the purpose of the shot is not to hit an outright winner, but to put pressure on your opponents.”

Even though my pro-partner, Hank Irvine says I should not even attempt this shot, for me to have any hope of making this shot, I have to be sure to have switched my grip from the Continental (for “regular” volleys) to the forehand – or even semi Western—grip to drive through the ball.

How about YOU… can you hit this challenging shot?

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16 thoughts on “The Swinging Volley

  1. hank irvine, as usual when it comes to tennis, is right!

    Joe, he usually is (but the stroke IS fun to hit!). thanks, george

  2. Yes, I can hit it, but it only works well in specific situations. around mid court, floating ball (not much pace) and between chest to shoulder high ( I don’t recommend higher or lower. Because of the topspin, brushing up and not hitting down or level is a must (even though it might seem counter intuitive). It’s closer to a ground stoke than a volley. In doubles it’s tougher to be a put away (lack of open space), but in singles it definitely can be a put away
    I worked on it with Spike a couple of years ago and brushing up was the key (you can teach an old dog new tricks!).

    Steve, good tip! thanks, george

  3. The first time I trained at Hopman’s tennis academy in the 70’s I found few structured approaches in regard to technique, very open plan. One of the things I brought home from the time there was a swing volley that gave my high school tennis coach the chills. His game was old-school, perfect technique. He absolutely couldn’t stand seeing me do it.

    Looks like Hop was onto something. Bill Bowden

    Bill, i think Mr. Hopman is the father of a lot of today’s tennis. thanks, george

  4. It’s not so difficult to hit if you use a western or semi western on the FH. Just drive throught it provided the ball is shoulder to mid chest height.

    Chris, yes, i think the grip is critical (it appears Serena is too) thanks, george

  5. As i get slower but still want to work my way into the net from the baseline, there are an increasing number of no man’s land volleys that lend themselves well to “swinging volleys”. Agreed that low to high is the correct technique. I find trying to impart a lot of topspin lowers my consistency. Just short, flat stroke low to high with little or no back swing and aiming away from net player, high over the net gives consistency and time to waddle closer to the net for the next shot. If both opponents are at the net, than more spin trying to get the ball lower before they can volley is needed. Better than trying to win points from the baseline in doubles.

    Winder, yup, we now “work our way” into the net! thanks, george

  6. Great shot for training purposes! It forces players to hit through their shots. Can also do on the 2 handed backhand side. Have Fun!

    Chuck, that shot (like YOUR angle/spin/drop volley) is fun. thanks, george

  7. I just got off the court playing cross court singles with Willy Hoffmann (it was so hot and humid, we agreed to quit at 6-6!) and I hit 4 or 5 swinging volleys! Still a fun and offensive shot to hit. 🙂

  8. The “swinging volley” was not part of the lesson plan when I learned to play; “Old School”. Eye sight and timing play a big part
    in hitting this shot. You do need to keep the racquet a bit higher and farther out in front as well as applying topspin to finish. Since the ball is descending rather than ascending, reading the flight is tricky, along with your forward movement. On the practice court, experiment with it and see how it might fit in with one’s own repertoire. If not, there’s always the reliable directed and angled block volley.

    glenn, good advice! thanks, george

  9. I have a bad habit of hitting too many swinging volleys. In a junior/senior tournament at my club I hit one which came back as a floater, so with lots of open court I chose to hit another swinger that landed just inside the doubles sideline for a winner. My eleven year old partner remarked “That makes no sense!” I couldn’t let that go so I said back to him “I think you mean — That makes no sense, sir!”

    Michael, who was that smart (xss) kid? 🙂 george

  10. When I played in high school, I actually developed — for a time — a natural swinging volley. I developed it when I was constantly hitting against the back of the junior high gym all by myself and I used to like to test myself by hitting groundies against the wall as hard as I could, counting to myself the number of hits that I could make in a row before finally missing. Meanwhile, I kept trying to get closer and closer and even closer to the wall, as if I were trying to approach net in a doubles match today.

    So, after a while, I actually got to the point where I could stand 6 feet or so away from the wall and just power swing volleys back at the wall until, eventually, the pace would get to me and I would miss.

    In mid-September, even though the boy’s tennis season was not until the following spring, our coach decided to do practice sessions with the team in the fall before to try to sharpen our games.

    So, there I was hitting singles with one of the other kids when my VERY TRADITIONAL and VERY OLD SCHOOL tennis coach absolutely went bananas watching me hit some natural swing volleys in front of him. “Martes (my name given to me by my coach, Ed Torres, who was also a Spanish teacher), what in the Lord’s name happened to your volley? How many times have I told you guys not to swing at the ball?? It’s a simple punch, that’s all. Now show me a proper volley and I want to never, ever see you hit a swing volley again, or you’re off the team!!”

    And so I abandoned all attempt to hit a swing volley until I was well into my late 40’s and I started noticing that many of the pros were actually hitting them. I cannot say I am any good at the stroke, mind you, but it is just something that I can still do naturally and I really don’t need to think about it.

    Marty, when i was in HS, my English teacher gave me a C because she didn’t like my unorthodox writing style. Meanwhile, i majored in English in college and spent my life as a professional life as a writer — with people paying me big bucks for my “unorthodox writing style.” So maybe we both knew more than our teachers! Thanks, george

  11. George thanks for the pr but can’t be me making that comment. Hope to try to shot this summer tho. Regards mike

    Mike, right … you don’t own that shot yet, nor the name… it was another Michael Kane! george

  12. Funny, when I was in high school my English teacher gave me a B minus because he said I wrote too much like Hemingway – my sentences were too short and I was overly laconic.

    Then one night, I accidentally rolled out of bed and hit my head on the floor. Thereafter, my writing style completely changed.

    The following semester, I got an A plus in English and my teacher told me my prose read like Nathanial Hawthorne, his favorite author.

    I have no idea what he was talking about.


  13. I could explain how to do it and even why it was traditionally thought difficult, but everyone’s eyes would glaze over. 🙂 Pretty simple physics, really.

    Kevin, many of us have permanently glazed over eyes! Thanks. George

  14. George,
    I find that prayer is also needed at my age.

    Maybe also at my ability level. At the least that’s what Bill Ashley tells me.

    Patrick, then, probably closing your eyes would help too. george

  15. Yes Marty, Ed Torres was an old school traditional tennis coach who would want to teach the correct forehand volley technique. But guess what..I played Ed, the former number 1 in the Easter college division who played for Rider College, every week throughout the 90’s and on hard courts he would hit a swinging forehand volley from mid court. He was an old dog who learned new tricks!

    Doug, the old “do as i say, not as i do” philosophy. thanks. george

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