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How to hold your pickleball paddle for the perfect volley — Tips from pro Catherine Parenteau

By Catherine Parenteau

on Jun 25, 2024


Professional pickleball player Catherine Parenteau holds her Selkirk Power Air paddle in front of her with the paddle face pointed slightly downward in a demonstration of proper volley technique.

When volleying at the kitchen line, it can be easy to lose your head. If you get deeply involved in a fast-hands battle, you may find yourself scrambling to keep up. 

But a few tips — such as holding your paddle at the correct angle or using a different grip — can greatly improve your chances of walking away from the rally with a point. 

In a new Selkirk Pickleball TV episode, pickleball professional Catherine Parenteau shares tips for volley technique and a few drills to help improve yours. 

How to hold your paddle when volleying

Imagine you are standing in the middle of a giant clock. If you are right-handed, your paddle should be aimed toward the 11. If you are left-handed, it should be aimed toward the 1. 

Having your paddle pointed in this direction means that your backhand will be slightly open toward your opponent, which helps: 

  • Defend yourself from quick attacks;
  • Prevent errors caused by improper paddle positioning; and
  • Cover your face quickly to prevent injury. 

    The proper grip and swing path for volleying

    When volleying a pickleball, you want to hold your paddle with a slightly firm grip. So, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being a tight squeeze, aim for a grip strength of six or seven. 

    If you were to keep the same loose grip you use when dinking, you wouldn’t generate enough force to challenge your opponent. 

    It’s also important to keep your swing path short. Not only with this help you reset in between each hit, but a shorter swing path also makes you more accurate when hitting your sweet spot on the paddle. 

    Remember: it doesn’t matter how big of a backswing you take if you mishit the ball. A shorter swing with more accurate placement will result in a much deadlier shot. 

    Rather than swinging your arm behind you to hit a forehand, simply open your wrist to your opponent and punch forward. This quick hit will generate ample power to keep you aggressively involved in the rally. 

    Drills to improve your pickleball volley

    When performing these drills, focus on perfecting each progression before moving on to the next. Doing so will help you build proper muscle memory for each technique. 

    As you practice, ensure you are holding your paddle out in front of your body while pointing it to the proper position for your dominant hand. 

    Drill 1: Short, cooperative volleys

    Stand on the opposite side of the net from your drilling partner. Each of you should be just inside the kitchen line, with your heels resting on the line. 

    Begin volleying back and forth cooperatively. The goal is to keep your swings very compact, resetting after each hit. 

    As you begin to warm up, you can add a little more power to each hit. 

    Drill 2: Hard, targeted volleys

    Now it’s time to move back behind the kitchen line. After the first drill, you’ll likely feel as if you have too much time in between each hit. 

    Don’t be tempted to swing further. Continue keeping your swing path short. Volley back and forth, counting how many volleys you make in a row. 

    After the rally ends, try to beat your next record. Feel free to add more power or focus your aim on one particular target as you practice. 

    Download the Selkirk Pickleball TV app HERE to watch the complete episode and many other Selkirk TV original shows, podcasts, lesson series from the pros, and much more. 

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