The Volley:

The volley should be easy. If the body would do what the mind told it to do, everyone would be a great volleyer. The mechanics of this stroke are simple: You just step in and block the ball back over the net. It is more a matter of timing than mechanics.

The problem is that most players move the racquet much more than they need to and move their feet much less than they need to when they are volleying.

* If you are swinging too much - Put your racquet down. Have someone hit or throw you the ball and step across and catch it. Repeat catching it a dozen or so times. Pick up the racquet and try to step across and catch it with the racquet.

* If you are still taking that racquet back too far - Put on the handcuffs. Place one wristband around both wrists and practice hitting volleys. This should stop you from swinging and help you to meet the volley in front.

* If your volleys lack authority - Here's another trick to get you to contact the volley in front and early. Stand a racquet's length from the net and have someone feed you shots. Step in and make contact on your opponent's side of the net - before the ball even gets to your side. You'll hit great volleys. Now, just step back and volley the same way without reaching over the net.

* If you are popping up those low volleys - Bend from your knees, not your waist, to get down low with the shots.

* If you are miss-hitting too many volleys - Try the "handcuffs" again and make sure you are making contact in front where you can see the ball. Miss-hits are often the result of letting the ball get too far back where you can't see it.

* Move your feet more and your arm and racquet less. If this is all you do, you will probably be a better volleyer.

* Cut down your opponents' passing angle by moving in front of your opponents when they are hitting the ball. Then readjust your position after your next shot.

* Angle volleys sharp and short if there is an open court.

* Volley straight ahead deep if an obvious angled opening does not exist or if you are back from the net.

* Volley down the middle deep anytime.

* "Cheat" at the net. Much of the time when you are at the net you will sense where the ball will be coming, whether it will be a forehand or backhand volley. Cheat to that side. Anticipate and be ready sooner and you will execute better. Yes, you'll get fooled once in a while. It's okay.

* Look through the strings of your racquet at the ball when you volley. This should not only remind you to concentrate visually on the ball but also to make contact with the ball early and out in front.

THE FIRST (TRANSITIONAL) VOLLEY

The first or transitional volley is the volley you have to execute when you are moving from the back court to the net. The differences between this volley and a regular volley are basically that you are on the move more and you will probably be farther away from the net than you would like to be.

Perhaps the key to executing this shot is to be in control of your body and not be moving too fast into the net. A hesitation or split-step will help you get into control as your opponent hits the ball. You are far better off being in control and in less than the perfect position than being in a great position but moving like a lunatic.

* Watch the ball as it comes off your opponent's racquet. Even though you are on the move, don't forget this basic. It enables you to read where the ball is going.

* Move into the shot after your split-step or hesitation. Don't stop and wait for it. You must move into the shot to control it.

* Get down low with your knees and stay down with the shot. Don't pop up like a jack-in-the-box.

* Don't be afraid of this volley. It is a difficult shot but that's what makes it fun.

* Forget sharp angles on this volley. You are probably too far from the net. Play it safe.

* Play this volley safe and smart. Don't even think about a winner. Play it deep and prepare for your next shot. You do not want high­light film shots with your first volley.

* Close in on the net after this volley. Remember it is a transitional volley on your way to a good position at the net.

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