Tennis Volley Exercises for the Forehand and Backhand Volley

Tennis volley exercises aim to improve the coordination, reaction time and reflexes required to hit a forehand and backhand volley. Practicing tennis volley exercises can improve a player’s net game and ability to finish points aggressively.

tennis-volley-exercisesTennis volley exercises for the forehand and backhand volleys can be done through drills as well as through off court training for the tennis volley.

A lot of tennis players don’t spend much time perfecting the tennis volley, much less ever practice any of the tennis volley exercises available to them. This isn’t the case at the professional level, however. The Bryan Brothers are top professional tennis players in the world that possess one of the best tennis volleys.

Behind their domination of the world’s doubles tennis game, they are known to be constantly using tennis volley exercises in practice to hone their forehand and backhand volley technique.

Although the modern professional game has become dominated by powerful baseliners, the volley remains an important part of the game. The best players in the world all have the ability to come in to the net and finish points with easy volleys. They can set themselves up because of the power of their ground strokes.

They may not do it as often as players in the past did but having this ability still makes them more dangerous than other players. In doubles, the serve and volley game is still the best strategy to use. So if you really want to become a more complete player, learning to volley is an important part of this process.

Tennis Volley Exercises to Perfect your Forehand and Backhand Volley


Tommy Haas Demonstrates a perfect forehand volley: Excellent initial foot pivot allowing the body to be sideways while maintaining forward momentum

Many players do not volley as much because they have insufficient physical strength in their arms and wrists. There are a few tennis volley exercises that you can do in the gym or at home to gain more strength in these areas. The wrist can be strengthened with grips and ball squeezing exercises. There are also weight training exercises for the wrist and forearm that are useful for developing better volleys. These are the following:

  • Wrist curls – holding a light dumbbell, place your forearm on a stable surface with the wrist hanging off the edge and the palm facing up. Curl the dumbbell up and back down.
  • Wrist extensions – this is similar to the wrist curl, except that the palm if facing down. Lift the dumbbell by extending the wrist up and lower it back down.
  • Wrist abduction and adduction – hold the dumbbell with your thumb on the upper side and perform a motion as if you were hammering a nail.
  • Forearm pronation and supination – hold a dumbbell bar without weights or only a light weight attached at one end. Twist your forearm back and forth, pronating and supinating. Use the full range of motion.
  • Arm exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions are also useful to provide stability and protect against tennis elbow.
  • Shoulder exercises, especially those targeting the rotator cuff can help you hit high volleys better. These include internal rotations and external rotations.

Tennis Volley Exercises #1: Flexibility for the arm

Tennis volley exercises should also include stretches for the wrist, arm and shoulder. Flexibility is just as important as strength in the development of proper technique and for the prevention of injuries like tennis elbow, rotator cuff tears and tendonitis of the wrist. Shoulder and wrist injuries have wrecked many a tennis player’s career.

There are also drills to improve your volleying ability. Hitting against a wall is one of the best tennis volley exercises. You can do this in your garage or even inside your own home.

Tennis Volley Exercises #2: Wall Drills

Stand anywhere from 3 to 6 feet away from the wall and simply volley the ball back and forth. You can keep the ball on your forehand side, backhand side or do alternating sides. You can also do patterns like 3 forehands then 3 backhands.
You are free to be creative with this aspect. The main thing is to hit the ball as many times as you can. This is a great exercise that develops your feel for the shot, quickens your reaction time and improves your hand-eye coordination.

Tennis Volley Exercises #3: Consistency Drills


Keeping a sustained rally of forehand and backhand volleys with your partner at the baseline allows you to ingrain the correct technique and feel for the tennis volley shot.

To develop consistency and get used to the feel of taking the ball out of the air, you can simply rally using volleys instead of ground strokes. You can rally from halfway between the service line and the net or further back. Try to set a goal of how many shots you can keep in play. Just as in hitting against the wall, you can create patterns too, like forehand-forehand, forehand-backhand-backhand-forehand, etc.

However, volleys are not rally shots. As much as possible, volleys are offensive shots and some tennis volley exercises should help you apply more force on this shot. You should be looking to end the point with the shot or set up your next volley for a winner.

You should not be coming in to the net to defend. As such, the best and most effective volleys are hit when a player is moving forward. However, position play is even more critical than on ground strokes. When you are at the baseline, you have generally have more time and you can even run around one side to hit the ball with the other wing on certain occasions.

You do not have this option up at net. Any small opening will leave you stranded as you get passed by your opponent. Therefore, aside from moving forward on the volley, you should quickly recover to a position that bisects the possible angles of your opponent’s reply. A good drill for this is the V drill.

Tennis Volley Exercises #4: The V Drill

You are fed the ball to either your forehand or your backhand that you have to volley. You move diagonally forward to intercept the ball but recover quickly to the centre service line after every shot.

Tennis Volley Exercises #4: The Romanian Volley Drill

The Romanian drill is another one of the tennis volley exercises that also trains a player to move properly. In this drill, the players stand just inside the service line and volley the ball back and volley the ball back and forth while side skipping back and forth from one side line to another. It is for more advanced players but a more basic version can be done for lower level players. Instead of rallying, a coach can feed the ball to a player while progressively moving him over from one side line to the other and back.

Volleys also need much finer racket head control. Whether you are trying to hit the ball hard or soft, controlling the racket head is vital for effective net play. Tennis volley exercises can also help you develop this. One technique is to practice hitting volleys with the non-dominant hand tucked behind your back. This emphasizes concentration and forearm strength to stabilize the racket head.

Tennis Volley Exercises #5: The T Volley Drill

Perfect Forehand Volley Set-up By Novak Djkovic

Another control-oriented tennis volley exercise is the T drill. Players start out at the service line and keep the ball in play by volleying back and forth. With each shot, they should take a step forward to the net.

When they are both really close to the net, they will be using very delicate strokes to keep the ball in play. The goal is for both players to ultimately trap the ball with their rackets.

In order to get used to hitting volleys in a match, practice games have been designed to simulate match situations. The first is the serve and volley practice game. In this game, the players must always try to come to the net because they can only score points from the forecourt. The server should serve and volley and the returner must return and volley as well.

This can be adapted for both singles and doubles. You can actually play a no-bounce game. There are also drills (not necessarily games) that can be done to suit this purpose.

Tennis Volley Exercises #6: The Passing Shot Drill

The passing shot drill requires two players, one at the net and another at the baseline. The baseliner feeds the net player a reasonably difficult shot, which the net player has to try to put away. Meanwhile, the baseliner tries to run down every ball and pass the net player with any shot including the lob.

There is also a version of this drill where the players both start out at the baseline. The player who will be practicing volleys is fed a midcourt ball. He or she hits an approach shot and tries to volley a winner on the next ball. The baseliner will also try to hit passing shots in this drill.

The best tennis volley exercise is not really an exercise anymore, but it is the only way that a player can really develop his or her net game. Try to execute in an actual match what you have been practicing. The more you do this, the more you will learn and be confident in your volleying ability.

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