What is Volleying in Pickleball?

By: Brandon Fritze

Have you ever wondered what exactly a volley in Pickleball is? Well, wonder no more! A volley is a real shot that can make or break your game. In a volley, you swiftly and decisively strike the ball while it’s in the air, before it touches the ground.

In this article, we’ll delve into the nuances of volleys, explore their importance in the game, and provide valuable tips to improve your volley technique. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to become a formidable force on the pickleball court. Let’s dive in!

What Does Volley Mean in Pickleball?

In Pickleball, “Volley” refers to a specific type of shot where the ball is hit in the air before it bounces on the ground.

It involves striking the ball before it touches the surface of the pickleball court.

Players commonly use volley when they hit the ball high or when players are positioned near the net.

What is a Volley in Pickleball

How to Volley in Pickleball?

To execute a  Pickleball volley, follow these steps:

1. Position Yourself Correctly

Stand near the net with your knees slightly bent and your weight balanced on the balls of your feet. Keep your body square to the net, facing it directly.

Ready Position of Volley

2. Anticipate the Shot

Watch the ball closely as it approaches. You can predict if it will be a high or low shot. This prediction will affect your volley technique.

3. Use a Compact Swing

For high volleys, position your paddle in front of you, slightly above your waist, with a relaxed grip.

Then use a quick and controlled wrist snap to strike the ball as the ball comes within reach.

You should also aim to meet the ball at its highest point.

Volleying in Pickleball

4. Keep Your Eye on the Ball

 Maintain focus on the ball throughout the entire volley. It will help you make accurate contact and control the direction of your shot.

5. Follow Through

Follow through with your swing after striking the ball. You can easily do it by extending your paddle towards the target.

It will furthermore add power and accuracy to your volley.

When Should I Volley in Pickleball?

Knowing when to volley in Pickleball can significantly enhance your game. Here are some situations when you should consider volleying:

1. Near the Net

You often use volleys when you and your opponent are close to the net.

It allows you to maintain control of the point and keep the ball from bouncing, which can put pressure on your opponent.

2. High Shots

Hitting the ball high enables you to volley. Instead of letting it bounce and potentially lose control, you can quickly react and strike the ball in the air, maintaining an offensive position.

3. Angled Shots

Volleying can also be effective if your opponent hits a shot angled towards the sidelines.

By volleying the ball, you can redirect it back towards the opponent’s side, potentially catching them off guard and gaining an advantage.

4. Offensive play

You can luckily use volleys to maintain an aggressive playing style. By volleying consistently, you can keep the ball in play and put pressure on your opponents.

This will in turn prevent them from gaining control of the point.

Types of Pickleball Volleys

These are the four primary and common types of Pickleball volleys.

1. Pickleball Punch Volley

This technique is strong and aggressive. You use it when you want to hit the ball with speed and force.

It involves a quick, jab-like motion where you strike the ball firmly.

The paddle face remains relatively open, allowing you to generate maximum power and send the ball back with velocity.

This volley is particularly effective for returning hard shots or attacking high balls, as the forceful punch can keep your opponent on the defensive and create opportunities for you to take control of the point.

Pickleball Punch Volley

2. Pickleball Roll Volleys (Topspin Volleys)

Roll volleys are also known as topspin volleys. You can execute these volleys by applying topspin to the ball during the volley.

To create a topspin, brush the paddle face upward and forward while making contact with the ball.

Pickleball Roll Volley

The topspin causes the ball to rotate in the air, allowing you to control its trajectory and placement.

Roll volleys are valuable when you want to place the ball precisely such as aiming for the sidelines or creating a hard bounce for your opponent.

The topspin can help keep the ball in play and put pressure on your opponent’s positioning.

3. Pickleball Drop Volleys (Block Volleys)

Pickleball Block Volley

In drop or block volleys, you can use a controlled and short blocking motion rather than a violent swing.

The goal of a drop volley is to redirect the energy of the incoming shot while maintaining control instead of generating power.

Here you have to position the paddle face more vertically. Accordingly, this makes it easier to absorb the ball’s energy and direct it back with less speed.

You can use this type of volley when you’re positioned closer to the net and want to place the ball softly and accurately.

This makes it challenging for your opponent to counterattack.

You may also want to know about Pickleball Drop Serve.

Pickleball Block Volley

4. Pickleball Dink Volleys

These are delicate and finesse shots played with minimal force. Dinking is an essential aspect of Pickleball, particularly in the non-volley zone or the kitchen.

Dink volleys are usually executed from a close position to the net and the aim is to keep the ball low and near the net, making it difficult for your opponent to attack.

These volleys require soft hands and a gentle touch to maintain the ball’s flight path and placement.

Related: Pickleball Dink Serve

Pickleball Dink Volley

We have done the four most common types of Volleys in Pickleball.

However, some other types are not common but really helpful to become a Pickleball pro player. So let us have a look at each of them.

5. Pickleball Backhand Volley

It is an essential shot that requires skill and precision.

You can perform it when the ball comes towards your backhand side. While playing it, you must react quickly to hit it.

Also Read: Pickleball Backhand Serve

Pickleball Backhand Volley

6. Pickleball Underspin (Slice/Backspin) Volley

The underspin volley, also known as the slice or backspin volley, involves intentionally creating spin on the ball as you make contact.

By brushing the paddle underneath the ball with a slicing motion, you impart backspin, causing the ball to dip and stay low after it crosses the net.

Pickleball Underspin Volley

7. Pickleball Half Volley

This Pickleball volley is challenging and requires excellent timing and coordination.

You can play it when the ball bounces close to your feet. At this time, you hit it just as it rebounds off the ground instead of letting it rise.

Half Volley in Pickleball

8. Pickleball Lob Volley

The lob volley is a strategic shot to create distance between you and your opponents.

You can execute it by gently lifting the ball into the air with a soft touch. 

It will then arc over the net and land deep in your opponent’s court.

You may also want to know more about Pickleball Lob Serve.

9. Pickleball Overhead Volley

The overhead volley, also called the smash, is a powerful and aggressive shot. You use it for hitting the ball when it’s high above the net.

You generate significant force with a solid upward swing and direct the ball downward quickly and accurately.

Pickleball Overhead Volley

10. Pickleball Soft Volley

The soft volley is a gentle shot that demands a delicate touch and finesse.

Instead of hitting the ball forcefully, you make a controlled, gentle contact, guiding it over the net with precision.

Rules For Volleying In Pickleball

To ensure fair play and maintain a level playing field, it is essential to understand the rules and guidelines for volleying.

Here are some fundamental rules to keep in mind when it comes to volleying in Pickleball:

Can You Volley In The Kitchen?

One of the most crucial Pickleball rules states that you must avoid hitting the ball while standing in the non-volley zone, also known as “the kitchen.” It  extends 7 feet next to the wall on each side.

To maintain fairness and prevent overly aggressive play, players cannot hit the ball out of the air (volley) while their feet are inside the kitchen.

This rule encourages players to use more strategic shots and promotes longer rallies.

Wait For One Bounce Per Side

In Pickleball, during the serve and the receiving team’s first shot, each side must wait for the ball to bounce once before they can volley it.

This rule ensures that there is an opportunity for both teams to engage in the rally and avoids giving one side an unfair advantage.

After the ball bounces, players can freely volley or hit it out of the air, as long as they stay outside the non-volley zone.

Waiting for the bounce promotes skillful shot placement and adds an element of anticipation to the game.

Don’t Volley Out Of The Court

While volleying can effectively control the game, exercising control and accuracy is essential.

A rule to remember is that you must not volley the ball out of the court.

It will be considered out of bounds if you hit the ball over the net and it lands outside the court boundaries.

Consequently, it will result in a point for the opposing team.

Moreover, this rule encourages players to maintain control over their shots, aiming for placement within the court and avoiding unnecessary errors.

Tips to Improve Pickleball Volleys

The following nine tips will help make you an expert in Pickleball volleys. Let’s have a quick look at each of them.

1. Maintain Your Position

A crucial aspect of successful volleys is always being in the correct position.

Take a ready stance by bending your knees just a bit, placing your weight on the balls of your feet, and holding your paddle out in front of you.

2. Keep Your Eyes on the ball

Focus is vital when it comes to volleys. Keep your eyes on the ball throughout the entire exchange.

By tracking the ball’s movement, you can anticipate its trajectory and make split-second adjustments to position yourself correctly for the volley.

3. Shorten Your Backswing

Work on shortening your backswing during volleys to increase your reaction time and improve control.

A shorter backswing allows you to generate quick and precise shots, especially when facing fast-paced opponents.

4. Work on Your Footwork

Efficient footwork is essential for successful volleys. Practice quick side-to-side movements and small shuffle steps to adjust your position on the court.

Maintain a good balance and avoid crossing your feet, as it can lead to a loss of stability and compromise your ability to react promptly.

5. Master the Soft Touch

Developing a soft touch is crucial in Pickleball especially during volleys near the kitchen line.

To improve your game, work on controlling the speed and depth of your volleys by using a gentle, controlled touch.

Moreover, this technique will allow you to place the ball precisely and keep your opponents off balance.

6. Practice Controlled Blocks and Punches

Different situations call for other volley techniques. Furthermore, two standard techniques are the controlled block and the punch.

The maintained block redirects the ball with minimal paddle movement, while the punch requires a firm, controlled hit to send the ball back with force. Practice both techniques to have a versatile volley game.

7. Focus on Placement

Don’t just focus on returning the ball. Instead, aim for specific areas on your opponent’s courtside to create strategic advantages.

To enhance your game, try experimenting with cross-court volleys.

You should also aim for the sidelines while hitting deep volleys to catch your opponents off guard and disrupt their rhythm.

Where Should I Hit My Volleys?

Now, we’ll explore different areas to aim for when hitting volleys, helping you make informed decisions during gameplay.

1. Deep and Cross-Court

Hitting your volleys deep and cross-court can be absolutely a highly effective strategy.

For instance, here you are aiming deep forces your opponents to move back.

This interestingly increases the chances of them hitting a weaker return.

2. At the Feet

You make it challenging for your opponents to execute a strong return by hitting low volleys near the kitchen line or at your opponent’s feet.

This is because they must react quickly and adjust their positioning.

Hit Volley on Opponent's feet

3. Sidelines

Targeting the sidelines with your volleys can be undoubtedly an effective way to control the court.

This is because you force your opponents to cover more ground by hitting volleys close to the sidelines.

Consequently, this increases their likelihood of making errors or leaving openings for you to exploit.

The Importance of a Volley in Pickleball

A crucial stroke in pickleball is the volley. For instance,  it may have a big effect on how a game turns out.

It is crucial for maintaining control and applying pressure. It requires

  • Quick reflexes
  • Positioning
  • Coordination

Mastering the volley allows players to dominate at the net, disrupt opponents, and create winning opportunities.

Volley Strategies

Developing effective strategies for volleys is essential for any pickleball player seeking to elevate their game. So look at the four strategies to empower your Pickleball volleys.

  1. Stay ready for incoming shots by taking a prepared position. Moreover, stay balanced with your knees slightly bent. Also, you should put your weight on the balls of your feet, and position your paddle in front of you.
  1. Start using drills into your practice sessions to improve your volleying skills.
  1. Meanwhile, you should try to mix-up your shots. This variation of your volley shots can keep your opponents guessing and off balance.
  1. It’s also important to closely observe your opponents’ body positioning, paddle angle, and shot tendencies to anticipate their next move effectively.

FAQs: Volleying in Pickleball

1. Can you volley in Pickleball?

Yes, volleying is an integral part of Pickleball. It is one of the fundamental skills in the game. A volley occurs when a player strikes the ball into the air without letting it bounce before it lands.

2. Why do we call it a volley?

The term “volley” in Pickleball (as well as in other racquet sports) comes from hitting the ball mid-air before it bounces.

We use the term “volley” because it originally described the act of shooting objects or projectiles in warfare while they were still in the air.

In Pickleball, “volley” describes a similar action of hitting the ball before it touches the ground.

3. How many is a volley?

In Pickleball, there is no specific rule that says how many consecutive volleys you can make.

Players can continue to volley until a fault occurs such as hitting the ball out of bounds or failing to execute a proper shot.

However, keep in mind that maintaining a volley for an extended period can be challenging due to the speed and unpredictability of the game.

4. What is the difference between a volley and a half volley?

In Pickleball, a volley means hitting the ball mid-air before it bounces on the ground. On the other hand, a half volley occurs when a player hits the ball immediately after it bounces off the ground.

Final Thoughts on Pickleball Volley

Consequently, volleys are a crucial aspect of Pickleball, allowing players to maintain control, apply pressure, and keep the ball in play. Players can enhance their game and gain a competitive edge by mastering different volleying techniques and understanding when to utilize them.

It’s essential to practice proper positioning, footwork and shot placement to execute effective volleys.

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