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THE FIRST VOLLEY
HOME > TIPS > INTERMEDIATE TIPS > THE FIRST VOLLEY
BOB CONSIDINE
10-01-2003
The First Volley, (or third hit in a point after the return of serve) can be the most difficult shot that a player must perform on a regular basis. Many players blame their serve or credit their opponent’s return of serve and do not take the time to understand this shot.

You only get one serve, it is risky to push the limits of your ability and break the first sin of Platform Tennis - “Don’t Fault”. Your opponent has the advantage, he knows the ball must land in the service box, can position himself for a drive, and knows the server will be in a poor position to make a volley.

While you may be tempted to stand wide (by an alley) to force the serve into the screen this can work against you if you opponent also adjusts, and results in your opponent getting the ball sooner and you having to take more steps to get into position. If you cannot gain the advantage by getting the ball to the side screen, concentrate on making your first volley. Try serving from closer to the center, it will give you the option of serving up the middle or to the side and get you into position to make your volley quicker.
Positioning–
A= Server B= your partner D= Returnee
First know what your partner will cover, which should be about 1/3 of the net (shown in red). It is important that your partner does not jump into your lane (poach) without you knowing he is going to. You will find yourself thinking your partner can cover more ground than possible and start coming in too wide. Your partner is doing his job by taking a third of the court away from the return and not giving you something else to worry about.
After your serve you will set your position off of your partners left hip and be prepared for the ball coming over the middle third of the net (yellow).
The last third you will leave for your opponent to try to hit. It is a low percentage shot and you should not give up the center of the court to try to cover it.
After you serve follow through and bring you paddle into the volley position, keep your paddle low, anything above your waist this far back in the court will probably go long. Take a couple of big steps then continue to close the net under control with little steps.

X marks the spot - if you can get to here you did pretty well but you are still in a tough position to make the volley. Your target for the first volley is the center of the court behind the service line. If you can get your volley here your opponents will not have another good opportunity to drive.

Think of your serve and first-volley together, you are at a disadvantage until you can make these shots. By slicing the court into lanes you and your partner know exactly what to and not to cover. When you warm up don’t just hit serves, practice the first volley too! This a brief overview of the first volley, there are many other variations depending on the placement of the serve. Visit vikingacademy.com or Paddlepro.com for drills on serve / return of serve / and first volley.
 

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