Sure, everyone who plays a lot of tennis has heard these tried and true adages for volley form: turn your shoulders and step into the ball. These are vital to a good volley, however, something that I often see missed that is just as important as those two gems: LOAD-AND-TRANSFER!
What do we mean by “load”? Well, let’s use the forehand volley of a right-handed player as our example. This player will want to turn her left shoulder toward the net and step into the ball with her left foot. But what should the right foot be doing? You guessed it: LOADING. In other words, before the step with the left foot, the player will want to transfer her weight and energy into her right foot and bend her knee slightly. Then, as she steps, she will unleash the “loaded” energy from her right foot, up that leg, through her hip, and into the step she takes with her left foot (“TRANSFER”). Timing this energy transfer to take place as the racket makes contact with the ball ensures that with a short stroke, bite can be imparted on the volley, creating a shot full of pizazz. If no loading phase takes place and the player simply steps, then the player’s timing suffers. The shot can be hit too early because all the weight has landed on the left foot too early, leaving no place for the player to go with her energy. When this happens, control is lost and in many cases, the player takes a large swing in an effort to generate pace because that’s the only alternative left without the load-and-transfer.
So remember, practice loading on your non-stepping foot, then transferring your weight to the stepping foot as you make contact to keep your volley compact and give your shot the bite it so richly deserves!