What Is a Volley In Pickleball? – Complete Beginners Guide

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Pickleball has a lot of lingo that can be confusing for new players. Drive, dink, drop and lob are some. A volley is a term you may hear thrown around during rules explanations. What is a volley in pickleball? 

In this guide, we intend to give you a clear understanding so you can go play pickleball with greater confidence and knowledge of the rules. 

More Resources: 18 Amazing Pickleball Tips For Beginners

man performing a volley in pickleball with blue paddle

What Is A Volley in Pickleball?

A volley is when you hit the pickleball out of the air before it bounces. 

It’s the same idea that can be found in other sports like soccer, tennis, and volleyball, a volley has the same definition. The player makes contact with the ball in the air before it bounces. 

What Are The Rules For Volleying in Pickleball?

According to the International Federation Of Pickleball (IFP) official rules, there are really only two rules where volleys come into play. 

  1. Rule 9. A.-The Non-Volley Zone: A player may not volley outside of the non-volley zone (the kitchen).
  2. Rule 7. A. – The Two-Bounce Rule: After the ball is served, both sides must let the ball bounce before anyone is allowed to volley

Volleying In the Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen) 

You can hit a volley anywhere outside the kitchen line, but you have to watch your momentum. If you hit a volley and your momentum carries you into the kitchen that is a fault. 

Furthermore, if you hit a volley and anything that was attached to you when hitting the volley (glasses, keys, extra pickleball etc.) falls into the kitchen, that is also a fault. 

Two-Bounce Rule

The two-bounce rule is straightforward. If you are returning a serve you must let the ball bounce. 

Conversely, if you served, and the retuning team returns it, you (the serving team) must also let it bounce, then you are free to volley. 

4 Types Of Pickleball Volleys

There are 4 main variations and strategies when it comes to executing a volley in pickleball. 

  1. Dink Volley
  2. Drop Volley
  3. Punch Volley
  4. Roll Volley

Dink Volley

Dink volleys test your touch with short shots. It’s very similar to performing a dink shot but you catch the ball before it hits the ground with the objective to land it in the kitchen on your opponent’s side. 

A well-placed dink volley can catch your opponents off guard and throw their timing off. 

woman performing a dink volley in pickleball.

Drop Volley

Drop volleys are similar to any drop shot. The purpose is to reset and take control over the pace of the rally.

If you find yourself in a fast-paced hands battle at the net or hitting drives at you from the back of the court you can execute a drop volley. 

A drop volley is an intermediate-level shot so it may take some patience to perfect. 

Pro Tip: keep the paddle face slightly open to impart a little backspin on the ball to ensure a softer bounce.

woman performing a drop volley in pickleball

Punch Volley

Punch volleys are the “put away” shot. A punch volley is not a swing. It’s more of a jabbing punch motion.

A punch volley is used to return high floater shots. It’s controlled and lethal if you can place it at your opponent’s feet. 

Roll Volley  

Roll volleys are used as an offensive shot. The roll volley should be executed on the kitchen line and the objective is to place topspin on the ball.

When your opponent hits you with a drop shot that is just below the net, that is the perfect opportunity to execute this shot.

It can be even more effective if you can act like you’re going to 

Pro Tip: For Rolling volleys, you want to swing up to impart topspin on the ball. Think about swinging from 4’oclock to 1 o’clock when you’re hitting the ball.

Strategies For Volleying In Pickleball

Volleying can be used both offensively and defensively. Offensive volleys are like punch and roll volleys that have more speed. 

Offensive Volley 

If you and your partner get to the front of the net (non-volley line) you can use offensive pickleball volleys to keep your opponents back.

Since they have less time to react, they are more likely to give you a “put-away shot” or just hit one out of bounds. 

Defensive Volley

Defensive volleys can be used to reset and regain control of the rally. This is where dink and drop volleys come into play. 

If you get into a hands battle, or you find that your opponents are playing you back, you can hit a drop or dink volley to earn time for you and your partner to get to the net.

When hitting defensive volleys it’s critical to keep it low and light. 

If the ball just gets over the net, and doesn’t take a low bounce, your opponents don’t have any other option but to dink it back over to you. 

From here you wait for your opponent to hit one a little high and you hit a punch volley at their feet. 

Tips to Improve your Volley In Pickleball 

Control

Having control over the trajectory, spin, and placement of your volleys is what separates an intermediate player from an advanced player. 

Choosing the right volley for the situation is important, but being able to execute that shot and hit it how you want to is far more critical.

Grip Pressure 

Odds are, you’re probably gripping your pickleball paddle too tight. The ideal grip pressure for a volley in pickleball should be about a 3 or 4 out of 10. 

A good way to gauge that is by taking your paddle and squeezing it as hard as you possibly can. That would be your 10. 

Now decrease that by about half and that brings you to a 5. From there, loosen up lightly and you’re at a 3 or a 4. 

This grip pressure allows you to have full control over the paddle face of while maintaining your sense of feel. 

Stable Foundation

Before hitting a volley it is essential to make sure your feet are planted on the ground before you hit the shot. 

If you’re running up to the net you want to slam on the breaks, take your stance, hit the volley, then continue forward. This is called “earning the net”

You never want to hit a volley while you’re in motion. If you’re running forward you’re going to hit it too far, and if you’re backpedaling and on your heels, the ball could go anywhere. 

A stable base is in a low athletic ready position with your paddle up and your feet planted a little wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes face the net. 

This allows you to use the ground and your knees to get to the ball and use power and precision. 

When In Doubt, Go Down The Center

Sometimes a volley battle can get a little intense for doubles play. 

This is referred to as a hands battle because both teams continue to just keep their hands up and volley it back and forth. 

If you find yourself in this position, the best thing to do is to keep it right down the middle 

Since both players are reacting quickly, they may both go for the same shot and hit it into the net resulting in a point for you. 

Watch Your Arms

When volleying, it’s very important to be aware of your arms in the shot. You don’t want to wind up because that creates inconsistency in the timing and you may hit it out. 

On the other hand, don’t overextend your arm. Overextension limits your feel. 

The ideal range of motion for a volley should be like you’re giving someone a high-five.

Pickleball Volley Drills

Like anything practice makes perfect. Here are some of my favorite volley drills that I have personally used to improve my placement and form.

Faster Hands Mini Drill

This drill is a great and quick one. You can do this for 5 minutes before playing and see improvement instantly to dial in your punch volleys.

Here is another great drill to practice all sorts of volleys in pickleball. You can tailor this drill any way you want to work on the type of volleys that you struggle with.

Grip Pressure Drill

As I mentioned before, grip pressure is very important for a volley.

The way I like to warm up and make sure I’m checking my grip pressure is to hit some dink volleys with my thumb and my index finger off the pickleball paddle.

With only three fingers on the pickleball paddle, you have no choice but to grip it lose.

Final Thoughts

Dailing in your volleys in pickleball is a crucial skill to learn in order to be an advanced-level pickleball player.

A volley can be used for resetting, or for drives that score you points. There are so many types of shots in pickleball, all with volley variations that completely change the timing and pace of a pickleball rally

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