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JAK'S NEW ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best

Same Grip Volleying Myths

January 2021

Players are only half right when they announce that they use the same grip for both the forehand and backhand volley – that's, of course, the one-handed backhand volley that two-handed backhand professionals and better club players prefer.

The one grip belief is often misperceived.

Typically, that grip is the "Continental," where the "v" of your thumb and forefinger join, and is placed in close proximity to the left handle bevel - the right edge of it for most - with the racket face positioned on edge (see image). This helps facilitate the racket face being slightly open at impact — only a few degrees depending — to generate slight underspin, particularly on the more challenging shin, knee, and even waist high balls that better opponents challenge you with.

Embed from Getty Images

A cocked wrist in the ready position, with the racket head above that wrist at approximately 45 degrees just below your sight line, leading to an elevated take back / prep is in the mix in order to assist the racket face coming down the backside of the ball to create that underspin.

The missing link in that description — this where the confusion begins — is the all-important arm-racket configuration / position at impact. The contact position of the arm / wrist / racket segments on the forehand side will differ markedly from those on the backhand side despite having basically the same continental grip.

But, that "same grip" is actually re-positioned slightly to accommodate the necessitated changed arm / racket position.

In viewing the images of Roger Federer and John Isner's forehand volleys at or near impact, and then viewing the same on Martina Navratolova and Kim Clijster's backhand volleys, it's immediately obvious that their arm-racket positions are clearly not the same even though they are all utilizing a continental volleying grip.

Note on the forehand there's a segmented upper arm, lower arm, wrist-racket alignment. Yet on the backhand version the upper, lower arm, wrist-racket positions are more connected as one unit.

The result is a leveraged, solid, racket-on-ball position that allows for a well in front points of impact.

Embed from Getty Images

Keep in mind that volleying is all about placement, not power. Trying to over hit your volleys will result in your net game being a liability instead of a strength.

Since the majority of you are mostly playing doubles, being a good net player is a must.

Embed from Getty Images

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Past Essays

  • March 2021 - The Essential Forehand and Backhand
    [read more]
  • February 2021 - On Being a Doubles All-Courter
    [read more]
  • January 2021 - Same Grip Volleying Myths
    [read more]
  • December 2020 - On mechanics and style
    [read more]
  • November 2020 - THE BIG 3: The Glue That Keeps Your Best Game Together
    [read more]
  • September 2020 - Protocol and Game Tradition Revisited
    [read more]
  • August 2020 - As Good as Your 2nd Serve
    [read more]
  • July 2020 - Shot Shaping
    [read more]
  • June 2020 - Getting a Point in Jeopardy Back to Neutral
    [read more]
  • May 2020 - A Positive Mind-Set: On and Off the Court in Today's C-19 Reality
    [read more]
  • April 2020 - The Zombie Tennis Creed – Top Ten
    [read more]
  • March 2020 - A Roadmap Into "The Zone"
    [read more]
  • February 2020 - The service toss: myths and realities
    [read more]
  • January 2020 - Shot Gazing
    [read more]
  • December 2019 - The Dreaded High Bouncing Moonball Dilemma
    [read more]
  • November 2019 - Chalk Flew: Troublesome Line Calling without Hawkeye in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2019 - In the Spirit of Don't Drink and Drive… Don't Think and Hit [read more]
  • September 2019 - Old School vs New School [read more]
  • August 2019 - Getting the Ball Where You Want It [read more]
  • July 2019 - Taking Points Off…What? [read more]
  • June 2019 - Confidence Is Confidence: Take It Wherever You Can Get It [read more]
  • May 2019 - TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES [read more]
  • April 2019 - Defending the Court with Older Bones: A Club Player's Guide to Saying "Nice Shot" Less [read more]
  • March 2019 - Do You Have Doubles Rally Tolerance? [read more]
  • February 2019 - I Knew Jimy Van Alen: A Historical Look Back [read more]
  • January 2019 - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Mental Toughness Skills [read more]
  • December 2018 - Less Bling is the Thing [read more]
  • November 2018 - Anatomy of a Doubles Serve Return…from the Inside Out [read more]
  • October 2018 - Older Dogs and New Tricks: Still Improving at Any Age [read more]
  • September 2018 - The All-Important Dynamic of Gripping [read more]
  • August 2018 - The Cinemascope Syndrome: Undermining Your Ball Watching [read more]
  • June 2018 - Serving and Returning Better with a Quiet Eye [read more]
  • May 2018 - The Man Who Breathed for Two [read more]
  • January 2018 - Rituals Anyone? [read more]
  • December 2017 - Why Serving is so Difficult in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2017 - Managing your body and mind in tennis space [read more]
  • August 2017 - Why Bother Breathing to Improve Your Game [read more]
  • May 2017 - The "Maintaining" One's Game as One Ages Fallacy [read more]
  • February 2017 - Punta Gorda Tennis Clubs: Setting the Bar [read more]
  • January 2017 - State of the Club Game: The Growing Death of Sportsmanship [read more]

Check back often for more essays.