Tips from Martina Navratilova, a winner of nine Wimbledon singles titles, on ‘How to play a volley’. Navratilova is part of the BT Sport team covering women’s tennis.
The biggest misconception that people have about the volley is that they think you should have a cocked wrist when you hit the ball. Don’t do that.
”The wrist needs to be in a neutral position. You should have a firm wrist, but not a cocked wrist, as a cocked wrist limits you. Actually having a cocked wrist causes you to make mistakes – you can’t really hit it. If you cock your wrist, the face of the racket actually moves so that it’s facing you more, and that means that you will be forced to hit it cross-court. If you want to go down the line, you move your wrist, and that means you lose power. If you keep the wrist flat, you have much more power.”
Keep the elbow close to the rib cage
. “If your arm is a long way from your body, you will lose power, so keep your arm in as much as possible.”
Imagine there’s a piece of string from the bottom of your elbow to the ground, holding it in place.
There is basically no swing
. “You will swing anyway. But if you think, ‘I’m not going to swing’, you will do a little punch. A little jab, a short punch.”
Don’t try to hit the ball a long way in front of you
. “If you do that, you will be stretching when you hit the ball, and you won’t have the power you need. You’re still hitting the ball in front of you, but not so far away that you lose power. Too far out, and everything is wobbly.”
The more you use your volley, the greater you chances
. ”The volley is very important. Now everyone hits the ball so well from the baseline. What’s going to be the deciding factor? Are you just going to hope that you hit it better than the other guy? Or are you going to get to the net and force them to hit a great shot? The guys are doing it, and the women are starting to do it more. In years past, you would see someone at the net maybe 10 times, and now they’re at the net 20 times in the same match.”