Pickleball Volley Rules, Types, and Basic Tips for Beginners

Est. Reading: 7 minutes

Regardless of your skill level in pickleball, you should master the art of volleying and know when to use it. Apparently, many beginners let the bounce first before hitting it. It's probably because they think hitting a volley is challenging to learn.

Being new to pickleball, you might think that a volley is the same as what volleyball players do. Well, you're partially correct. Obviously, the main difference is that these athletes don't use paddles. So, in today's guide, you'll learn everything about pickleball volleys.

What is a Volley in Pickleball?

In pickleball, a volley is done by hitting the ball toward the opposite court before it bounces off the ground. It's the direct opposite of a groundstroke, where you hit the ball after it hits the ground. But unlike a drop shot, a volley is harder, faster, and more aggressive. It's also usually done when a player is near the non-volley zone (also known as the kitchen) to return the ball.

What is the Purpose of Volleying?

Technically, you can volley anywhere in the pickleball court except while you're in the kitchen. However, it doesn't necessarily mean you should volley any time you like. There are two purposes of hitting a volley - to block the ball or attack your opponent. Either way, the goal is to make it difficult for your opponent to return the ball. So, regardless of how and when you hit a volley, make sure it serves its purpose.

You hit a volley to speed up the rally and force your opponent to be caught off guard. At the same time, you would want to disrupt their strategy to have complete control of the court. As a defensive tactic, blocking the ball with a volley can break your opponent's momentum and slow down their attack. It's also an excellent strategy to change the game flow, which becomes unpredictable once you launch an attack.

Pickleball Volley Rules

Volleying is not allowed in the non-volley zone and NVZ line. Otherwise, you'll commit a fault and will lose the rally. Any item that touches your body also should not be in the kitchen while volleying. This includes your paddle, apparel, and even your partner if they are in the NVZ. Your momentum should also not cause you to step into the kitchen while doing a volley. For complete details, read our Pickleball Kitchen Rules Guide.

There's also an existing 2-bounce rule in pickleball. It states that players should let the ball bounce before returning a serve. The purpose of this rule is to have fair competition. If volleying is allowed on the second shot, it will be an unfair advantage for the server. Remember, the serving team gets to serve again whenever they win a rally. Simply put, volleying is allowed on the third and succeeding shots during the rally.

8 Types of Pickleball Volleys

There are eight different types of volley in pickleball. Each has its own style and depends on the court position, the height of the ball, and your purpose. When done correctly, all of them can effectively win a rally. So, let's tackle them one by one.

#1 Forehand Volley

As the name implies, this type of volley is played using the forehand. With this stroke, you use the dominant side of your paddle hand to hit the ball toward the opposite side of the court. Although most experienced players use the forehand in different shots, this technique is not commonly used when hitting a volley, especially when the ball is coming so fast.

#2 Backhand Volley

With this technique, you hit the ball with the backside of your dominant hand. Although more challenging than a forehand, a backhand volley seems better for volleying. Here, the coverage area is wider, making it more difficult for opponents to reach. You can also do a two-hand backhand volley. But as a beginner, you must practice a lot to master it.

#3 Punch Volley

A punch volley is when you use your elbow and shoulder to make a short, quick motion to push the paddle forward, like punching something. Your paddle face should be semi-open and roughly parallel to the net. Then, hit the ball over the net while aiming toward your opponent's feet. However, most beginners get jammed due to wrong timing.

#4 Drop Volley

A drop volley is somehow similar to a punch volley, except for the position of your paddle and how you hit the ball. With the former, you should use a soft grip and some backspin so the ball will land softly over the net. This shot is very effective against aggressive opponents because it helps prevent them from attacking you.

#5 Dink Volley

A dink volley (or volley dink) is similar to a dink shot, except you hit the ball in the air before it bounces. If all the players are near the kitchen and engaged in a dink battle, this shot forces your opponents to react late and possibly commit an error. At the same time, you are pressuring them to go farther behind the kitchen line.

#6 Roll Volley

Sometimes called a topspin volley, a roll volley is done with a low-to-high swing path to hit the top of the ball. As a result, the ball will bend downward and roll forward after it bounces. This technique may be advanced, but it effectively keeps your opponents far from the kitchen line. A roll volley is also ideal when returning a drop shot.

#7 Block Volley

As the name suggests, this type of volley simply stops the ball by making your paddle face parallel to the net. Use a backhand with your non-dominant hand to push the ball a little, but avoid adding a spin unless you master it. Otherwise, you might miss the ball and lose the rally. Therefore, a block volley is more of a defensive strategy.

#8 Swing Volley

A swing volley is usually an offensive strategy in the kitchen and transition zone (the area between the kitchen and baseline). To execute it correctly, you must make a full swing like golfers. Therefore, your paddle must come from the outside. If you're a beginner, you might find it challenging to have the right timing in the kitchen.

Best Places to Land a Volley

Ideally, you hit a volley if the ball is high, but you can still reach it. Volleying is also more effective when you are closer to the net. However, you should know the right place where to land the ball. Although it depends on your position and your opponent's, here are some of the best areas to land a volley:

  • Your opponent's feet. It's by far the best landing spot because your opponent will find it more challenging to return. Just make sure the ball won't hit the net.
  • Your opponent's shoulder. It is ideal if your opponent is in the non-volley zone. Why? Because the ball is coming fast, and they are likely to be in a backhand position.
  • Over your opponent's head. It will force your opponent to retreat and move away from the kitchen. However, make sure that the ball will not go out of bounds.
  • An empty space. Since the court is small, this technique can be tricky if you're playing doubles. But in singles, you can easily find one if your opponent is near the sidelines.

Pickleball Volley Tips for Beginners

There are a lot of techniques on how to hit an unreturnable volley. But since this guide is dedicated to beginners, we'll discuss only the basics. Here they are:

Avoid Getting into the Kitchen

As mentioned earlier, it's a fault to volley inside the kitchen. So, if you feel it's time to hit a volley, you should stay behind the kitchen line. In fact, avoid being in the kitchen most of the time. Staying there is very dangerous, especially if you have a hard-hitting opponent. Better yet, stay close to the kitchen so you can easily hit a volley offensively.

Be in a Ready-to-Volley Position

To prepare to hit a volley, slightly bend your knees and put your weight on your toes. This position allows you to move in any direction quickly. Face straight to the net and place your paddle in front of your body. The position of your paddle may differ depending on the volley type, but usually, you opt to prepare for a backhand.

Use the Continental Grip

There are three ways to hold a pickleball paddle, but the Continental grip is the best for hitting a volley. Since this grip type is similar to holding a hammer, the paddle faces vertically to the ground. This will make it easier for you to do different volley types. Remember, the ball could be fast approaching you at any time.

Adjust Your Grip Pressure

A perfect volley also depends on how tight you hold your paddle. Ideally, you would want to use a lighter grip to hit low and a tighter grip to hit high. The farther you are from the NVZ line, the more pressure you should add. It can help you adjust your grip pressure. Here's our guide on how to measure your paddle grip size.

Make Solid Contact

Avoid hitting the ball too hard when volleying so your opponent cannot make an easy return. Use your shoulder to generate power when swinging the paddle instead of your wrist. Watch the incoming ball closely and make sure your paddle is in front of you, with its tip pointing upward. The key here is to make solid contact in front of your body. 

Final Thoughts

Though volleying looks easy, serving its purpose is the hardest part. It takes a lot of practice to master eye-hand coordination. If you don't have someone to practice with, you can use a wall and stand about seven away. This is the distance between the net and the kitchen line. With this strategy, you can learn how to control your volley.

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