Backhand Volleys – Step 1

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Step 1The first step of the backhand volley is the pivot and shoulder turn. Coming out of your split step, pivot with your outside foot and transfer your weight to that foot, get the heel of your inside foot up, and turn your shoulder sideways. Just like for a backhand groundstroke, the pivot and shoulder turn is how you start to take your racket back on your backhand volley, but there are a few differences. Once you pivot and turn the shoulders, your backhand volley preparation is basically complete.

What you want to make sure of is that your hitting hand comes back somewhere between your front shoulder and your back shoulder, but it should not go further back than your back shoulder. Also, the tennis racket is angled slightly back so that the head of the racket is behind your hitting hand (when seen from the side).

If we look at this position from the front now at about 1:00 in the video above, you can see that the tennis racket head is still pointed up at the sky even though it is angled slightly back. The racket and my arm (up to the shoulder) create what some coaches have called a U-shape. Another commonly used description of the relationship between the forearm and the racket is a V or L-shape when seen from the front. This is the arm and racket position you want to be in when you complete the pivot and shoulder turn. From this spot your preparation is done and you are ready to swing forward and make contact with the tennis ball on your backhand volley.

Let’s now look at Frank performing this first step of the backhand volley in action. At 1:15 in the video, Frank comes out of his split step and then pivots with his outside foot, transfers his weight to that foot, gets the heel of his inside foot up, and turns his shoulders sideways. As he does this, his hitting hand comes back between his front and back shoulders, and the racket is angled back so that the racket head is behind his hand.

From the front, we can again see at 1:55 the U-shape that is formed between the tennis racket and his arm. From this position, his preparation is done and he is ready to swing forward to contact.

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