platform players in the World, with very few exceptions, prefer
to use their backhand volley as opposed to the forehand as their
predominant stroke at the net. This may seem strange to some
players, especially if they’ve played years of tennis
doubles, where the forehand volley is preferred. The main reason
for the difference lies in the relative size of the platform
tennis court, opposed to a tennis court. Since a platform court
is considerably smaller than a tennis court, and is surrounded
by screens that return the ball towards the net, the strategy
on platform tennis volleys is not the same as in tennis.
When you are volleying in platform tennis, your main concern
should be merely to successfully return the ball into the court
and not to hit a powerful shot or one with extreme placement.
I am always reminding players to ‘not get too greedy’
with their volleys by trying to do too much with the ball and
often resulting in a missed shot. Your goal on a volley may
be affected by how prepared you are for the ball to be hit to
you, the speed of the drive, and the court positioning of your
opponents. In most cases, however, when you are confronted with
a well hit drive, your only goal should be to block the ball
back into the court. Ideally, your shot will not ‘pop
up’ and will land behind the opposing service line.
Because of the short distance between you
and your opponents, good volleying requires quick reflexes,
good paddle preparation, and anticipation. The close proximity
of your opponents gives you very little time to react and
makes it very difficult to volley well if you are ready at
the net with your paddle in a neutral position. A neutral
paddle position will usually result in a lot of missed shots
and body contorting by the volleyer. A well hit drive does
not give the net player time to decide between a forehand
and a backhand. Players that are ready at the net with their
paddles in a neutral position probably wonder how other players
can be so quick, fearless, and aggressive at the net while
they themselves always seem to be reacting late on drives
and backing away from the net. Learning to have your paddle
in the proper position can make a dramatic improvement in
What about the ‘windshield wiper’
forehand volley? In order to be successful, with this style
of volley, you must stay very low and be close to the net,
since it is very difficult to volley balls that are below
shoulder level. Because of this you will need to work hard
at getting in close to the net after you hit serves and overheads.
If you get caught away from the net, your ‘windshield’
forehand breaks down. Another drawback to this system is that
the physical demands of this system result in decreased success
with age and stamina loss.
Choosing to favor the backhand volley is the
wiser, more versatile, and proven choice. The backhand side
of the paddle can easily be used to cover a ball coming directly
at you as well as any balls heading towards your left side
(right handed players) with little physical effort. It is
also relatively easy to handle low balls using the backhand.
If the ball is hit towards your right side, it can be volleyed
by either moving your body over to the right, moving your
paddle over to the ball, keeping the backhand position, or
by quickly turning the wrist in order to square the forehand
side of the paddle with the path of the ball.
With practice, you can learn to position yourself on the court
so that you are hitting predominantly backhand volleys using
very little paddle movement. You will also learn to look for
the few situations that may require you to be more alert for
the ball to come to your forehand side, but that is a topic
for another article.
have ever tried to drive balls against a team that uses good
court positioning, teamwork, and good solid backhand volley
technique, then you already know how effective this system can
be and how difficult it is to beat.