In our doubles team drill yesterday, we worked on a skill that will help us take the net away from aggressive players, or perhaps change the momentum of a game. It’s a weapon that every doubles player should have in their arsenal: the volley-lob.
It’s an effective volley because it allows you to throw off your net-huggers, and shift the net advantage back to you.
When to Use the Volley-Lob
Use the shot early in the match, when the opportunity very first presents itself. This will help you gain control early on, as your opponents will lose focus on their own game, by thinking about you for the rest of the match.
There are a couple of positions your opponents can be in that will make this an effective shot for you.
The most advantageous position is when you’re playing opponents who camp out close to the net. These are players who keep moving forward after each shot, in an effort to be right on top of the net for their next volley. When they’re moving forward and are close to the net, it will be difficult for them to react to the volley-lob since their weight is moving forward.
The volley-lob is even more effective when your opponents are moving forward in tandem. Their only hope is for one partner to chase down your shot, resulting in your opponents being in the one up-one back formation, which is ideal for you to rip a groundie between them, or angle off a volley.
When Not to Use the Volley-Lob
In spite of its value, this can also work against you if you use it at the wrong time. There are certain doubles players who are only moderately aggressive, who prefer to approach the net, but hang out a couple of feet inside the service line.
The volley-lob shouldn’t be used against these types of players because because they are too far from the net to be surprised, and will usually have plenty of time to recognize the shot, move back and take an easy overhead.
How to Hit a Volley-Lob
There are four basic tips to hitting a successful volley-lob:
- Hit a volley-lob only when you’re able to hit it at your waist level or higher. If you try it off a low volley, it will give your opponent too much time to recognize the shot and react, and to adjust their position for an overhead.
- Hit the volley-lob over the opponent who is close to the net. This it will be easier to hit the ball out of their reach and will cut down their reaction time.
- Hit the volley-lob at this opponent’s backhand side. This way, if your opponent is able to react in time and get to the ball, she/he may only have a chance to return with a defensive, high, backhand volley.
- Keep the volley-lob low (less than 15 feet) because your opponents will have less time to run it down.
Here’s a video I found on Youtube that not only explains the shot, but shows it step by step – even in slow motion. Video courtesy of www.intosport.com