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Beginner Tips: What Is A Volley In Pickleball?

Pickleball is a fantastic low-impact sport that all ages can enjoy.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, it’s a wonderful way to meet friends and exercise.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the Pickleball volley – what it is, how to do it, and the specific rules surrounding it.

The volley is one of the most fun shots to play if you can carry it out properly.

What is a Pickleball Volley?

women playing pickleball
image: Ron B/Flickr, CC 2.0

A Pickleball volley occurs when you hit a ball from your opponent before it bounces.

You’ll typically play a volley near or at the non-volley zone line or in the transition area as you move forward from the baseline toward the non-volley zone.

There aren’t many shots as pleasurable as hitting that perfectly-executed punch volley at your opponents’ legs which they can only return weakly, allowing you the chance to put away a winner for the point, or if you’re able to execute a deft half-volley that drops just over the net giving your opponent no chance of returning the ball.

In Pickleball, a volley is a critical shot to be able to play, and choosing the right volley to play and when to play it during a point can swing a match in your favor.

Types of Pickleball Volleys

You can play several types of Pickleball volleys, and knowing what they are and when to execute them can make the difference between winning and losing a Pickleball match.

Let’s look closer at the different volleys you can play.

Forehand volley

When you play a forehand shot, you play the paddle stroke from the same side as your dominant arm, so if you’re right-handed, the stroke will come from your right-hand side.

A forehand volley means hitting the ball with your palm facing forward.

Your paddle face meets the ball in front of you with minimal backswing and enough follow-through to propel it in the direction you want it to go.

The traditional forehand volley doesn’t need much backswing or follow-through; overdoing either generally results in losing control.

Backhand volley

You play a backhand shot with your dominant arm bent across your body.

Instead of hitting the ball with your palm showing forward, you’ll lead with your knuckles forward.

You’ll use the traditional backhand volley when a ball is coming towards your body, which is often a reactive shot, or when it’s coming towards your weaker side, and you have to reach across your body to reach it.

Reactive volley

A reactive volley involves good reflexes on your forehand or backhand side to pull off successfully.

You won’t have much time to think about the reactive volley you play in response to a shot struck hard by your opponent.

It’s not likely you’ll be able to control or maneuver the ball as much as you’d like to when reacting through a volley.

Roll volley

Roll volleys are also known as topspin volleys.

You execute roll volleys with your paddle face open on your forehand side, hitting through the ball while rolling your wrist over the ball on contact.

For beginners, this is one of the most challenging volley skills to master.

The object is to get the ball to dip downwards onto your opponent’s court and then shoot off the court surface from the topspin you’ve applied when making contact.

You’d likely use this volley after your opponent has attempted a drop shot; to keep the opposition as far back on the court as possible.

Punch Volley

A punch volley is the most widely-used type of Pickleball volley.

When hitting the ball from a medium height into space or a volley at your opponent’s feet is a wise option.

You carry out a punch volley with your paddle face slightly open and parallel to the net.

You hit the shot with a punching-type forward movement, extending your paddle arm from the elbow, with the elbow becoming a sort of hinge.

You’ll witness plenty of punch volleys during quick Pickleball volley net exchanges.

Dink volley

A dink volley is a soft volley likely used when all four players in doubles are near the non-volley zone line during an exchange.

This volley is essentially the same as a normal dink shot as it has the same target and purpose, but it is a volley and not a regular shot.

The target zone would be as near the kitchen as possible to avoid an opposition attack.

If you can pick your opponent’s dink shot and meet the ball before it bounces, you’ll lessen the chance of having to retreat and force your opponent to react faster, with less time to prepare their next shot.

Catch volley

The catch volley is one of the Pickleball volley techniques that has many names.

It is also known as the drop volley, the drop dink, the block volley, and the reset volley.

It is a top defensive shot with a cutting, backspin action.

Catch volleys are great for switching moves in the Pickleball volley strategy, especially when your opponent is at the back of the Pickleball court, and you’ve been exchanging hard, deep groundstrokes.

Using a soft grip and the pace of the incoming ball, you land the ball gently over the net, catching your opponent off guard and on the back foot.

Rules for the Pickleball Non-Volley Zone

The non-volley zone is also known as the kitchen in Pickleball.

The sport has a set of non-volley zone rules where a ball bounce on the court is necessary before you can play the ball again.

In other words, you cannot step onto the no-volley line or into the no-volley zone itself and play the ball in the air before it bounces on your side of the court.

The only way you can play Pickleball volleys beyond the kitchen line is by reaching your arm forward and making contact with the ball beyond the kitchen line, without your foot or feet touching the non-volley line or any part of the kitchen zone itself.

A referee will call a fault if you physically infringe on this space.


What are three good tips for playing Pickleball volleys?

Firstly, limit your backswing.

Then, hit the ball with the face of the paddle square so you can almost push the ball over the net.

Finally, aim your volleys as far away from your opponent as possible to make them struggle to reach and return them.

What is Pickleball’s most important shot?

The third shot drop shot, or third shot drop volley, is the most Pickleball shot to master in Pickleball.

Many Pickleball players feel pressured when playing this shot, as the third shot is the most common time to lose Pickleball points.