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Mastering the pickleball volley shot: Tips for former tennis players


By Jarrett Chirico

on May 22, 2024

 

Jarrett Chirico stands at the kitchen line on a pickleball court. He shows the improper way to volley, with an open pickleball paddle face.

Many pickleball enthusiasts have experience with other racket sports like tennis or badminton. 

The skills from these sports often translate smoothly to pickleball, but tennis players sometimes struggle with learning the unique volley technique in pickleball. 

The volley shot is crucial in pickleball, yet it poses a significant challenge for those transitioning from tennis. In this Selkirk TV original, former tennis player and current pickleball clinician, Jarrett Chirico provides insight on overcoming these challenges. 

Tennis vs. pickleball volleys: Key differences

There are many similarities between tennis and pickleball volleys. In both sports, you hold your racket or paddle with the tip in front of your wrist, and you make contact with the ball in front of your body. 

However, the primary difference between the volleys lies in the angle of the paddle and the resulting ball trajectory.

In tennis, players often swing through a volley with an open-faced racket, causing the ball to stay high in the air. In pickleball, this gives opponents an easy opportunity to receive a volley above their waist, often resulting in a put-away shot. 

How to adjust your paddle face

To excel in pickleball, you need to adjust your paddle face. Instead of hitting the ball with an open paddle face like in tennis, aim to hit your volleys with a slightly closed paddle face. This means tilting the top of your paddle slightly forward.

As you push your paddle forward to make contact, roll the top of your paddle forward and over toward the middle of your body. This technique, known as rolling the ball, helps direct the ball toward the bottom of your opponent’s court.

Proper stance and positioning

When hitting the ball, ensure your hips are square to the net and push your chest up. Maintain a low stance, as if you are sitting in a chair, for every shot. This posture provides stability and control, crucial for effective volleys.

Finally, ensure your arm moves in a straight line. If you are aiming to shoot down the line envision your swing path down the sideline. If you want to go cross-court, envision a diagonal line extending from your shoulder to your target. 

As you hit the ball, make sure your hips are square to the net and you push your chest up. Keep low in your stance — you should feel as if you are sitting in a chair on every shot. 

Download the Selkirk 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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