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Hardscrabble Scramble
September 2000 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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The Volley Grip

Mike Whittington Photo
Mike Whittington

I get asked all the time which grip is the best one to use at the net. While not all teaching professionals may agree, I do not believe there is one universal volley grip. Many times I see players that believe that the continental grip is the only one to use when hitting volleys. While the continental grip can be of great benefit to higher rated players, I think it can also be detrimental to some novice and intermediate players.

Recently I had a 3.5 player come to me with volley problems. She complained of a lack of power and depth on her volleys as well as a constant turning of the racquet in her hand. I immediately noticed by the position of her hand and arm that she was using a continental grip. I didn't think this individual was strong enough to use the continental grip and that it was putting her racquet and arm in an awkward position. With just a slight change toward an Eastern forehand, her volley made a complete turnaround. She had more hand behind her grip and felt as though she was hitting as she would with the palm of her hand. This small change made her enjoy going to the net again and gave her immediate results.

Now many of you might be thinking you lose too much time changing grips. You have to ask yourself why are you losing these points at the net and missing volleys. Is it because you don't have the time to get a good forehand/ backhand grip or is it due to a lack of power, depth, and control, which could be gained with a more comfortable grip? I'm talking about a slight change, not moving to a Western forehand grip on the volley.

Obviously a 5.0 player would see advantages to having more touch with a continental grip and be able to control hard hit shots during quick exchanges at the net. A novice player will usually not have such quick exchanges and will need more consistency on basic volley technique.

I like most beginners and intermediates to work on using their normal forehand/backhand grip when at the net. Most players will usually know when a volley grip change is necessary. If you are thinking a change is needed, work with your teaching professional to make a gradual change you can work into your game. Use what is comfortable and what you believe you can execute successfully. I've seen too many players trying to use "textbook" volleys only to have their net game fold. When it comes to volley grips, one size does not fit all.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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