Relishing Pickleball

David Zapatka

The Volley

Continuing our study of Pickleball Fundamentals Master the basics and compete with confidence by Mary Littlewood, “A volley is a shot hit in the air before the ball bounces. It is used as a return of a ball that travels close to the top of the net and that is usually hit with force. The volley is executed from a position just behind the non-volley zone. It can be either offensive or defensive in nature. Developing a strong net game is crucial to your success as a pickleball player. The ability to volley with strength and confidence (whether offensively or defensively) is a big part of the net game.”

“From a balanced ready position, track the ball with your eyes as it leaves the opponent’s paddle and approaches the net. As the ball comes toward you, move your body and then your paddle in line with it. Most players prefer using a backhand position of the paddle to block balls coming to the left, center, and even slightly to the right. Contact the ball above the height of the net in front of your body with a blocking motion. Straighten the arm from the elbow and shoulder as contact is made.” Think block and push. With a firm grip on the paddle, use short, quick movements—no backswing, no wrist action—and follow through toward the target. More experienced players “use an alternative method. They apply force … by rotating the wrist when contacting the ball and not allowing the arm to straighten completely. The follow-through when volleying with wrist action is more across the body rather than toward the net. The advantage of using this method of volleying is that it requires less time to return the paddle to a strong volley position in preparation for the next play. The ball should follow an up-to-down trajectory—up when you contact the ball and down as it crosses the net.”

“Another technique for volleying that more advanced players use is to sweep the paddle across the front of the body while contacting the ball … the follow-through is in front and to the right of your body.” This is a challenging maneuver so it requires a lot of practice.

Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].