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Forehand and Backhand Half Volleys - Video and Analysis

Part I: Forehand Half Volley

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The video clip for this tennis lesson on the forehand and backhand half volleys will take only seconds to download.

Forehand half volley video:

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Your opponent has usually done well by forcing you to hit a half volley. A ball that lands at roughly the same depth as your feet is hard to hit aggressively. Half volleys are fun to hit, though, and once you develop a good feel for the timing, you can often convert what would normally be a defensive shot into an offensive opportunity.

Key points:

  • Grip: The Eastern grip, used here, is ideal for a half volley, but a Semi-Western or Continental grip can also work with practice.
  • Footwork: Split step as you see the ball leaving your opponent's racquet. While in midair, you'll naturally begin to turn toward where you'll meet the ball. Once you land, step forward and across your body with your right foot.
  • Stance: The half volley is one of the most linear strokes, making a square stance ideal.
  • Backswing: For the typical half volley near or inside the service line, use a very short backswing, no more than two feet behind where you'll meet the ball.
  • Swing: Swing almost entirely forward. You and your racquet will naturally lift a little as you swing, but don't try to impart topspin. You want your half volley to bounce low on your opponent's court, so topspin would be counterproductive (unless you're hitting a difficult, sharp angle and need the ball to drop quickly). Backspin is preferable when you want a low bounce, and hitting straight forward will actually create slight backspin on the ball, because the ball brushes up the back of the string bed, yielding the same effect as the strings brushing down the back of the ball.
  • Point of contact: It's easiest to meet a half volley roughly even with your front foot, but you'll often have to take whatever comes, including having to reach behind yourself a bit to dig the ball up. On a half volley, you'll always meet the ball low, close to where it bounces, and if the ball bounces behind you, you'll meet it especially low. Keep your racquet face either vertical or very slightly closed (tilted downward) at contact. Try to keep looking at where you met the ball for a split second after it leaves your racquet.
  • Follow through: Your follow through should be short and mostly forward.
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