1. Keep moving.
The reason the high sitter goes into the net is because your feet stopped. Regardless of how easy the shot looks, the volley starts with good positioning. You want your back foot behind and parallel to the ball and your front foot pointed at your target, and you want to split and hop step on every shot to avoid being flat-footed and jammed, says Justyn Schelver, co-director at the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy.
2. Keep things compact.
Going with a continental grip, in which you shake hands with the racquet and your knuckle is on the first bevel, will open up the face and provide a little slice on the ball. Turn your shoulders and bring the racquet back but don’t let it go out of your sight line. Catch the ball out in front of your body, pushing your hand and elbow forward, with the bottom edge of the racquet going to the target. On the backhand volley, it’s the same approach, only use your off hand to hold the racquet throat on the take back. You almost want to have to pull the racquet from your hand, creating tension between your shoulder blades as you go forward with the shot, Schelver says.
3. Adjust for the low ball.
It’s not about bending over and reaching out. You need to move to get into position, and that means using your knees to get your hips below the ball and keeping your upper body upright. Even if you do this, remember that you’re still hitting a low ball and you’re in a defensive position. You need to adjust your target and intention to stay in the point rather than going for an all-out winner, Schelver says.
Have trouble getting low? Stretch your quads and hip flexors. You’ll increase your range of motion and be able to squat more easily, preventing you from bending over and overcompensating with your lower back, says Nick Anthony, a performance specialist at Athletes’ Performance. Include a hip flexor stretch in your warm-up and cool-down, and add the Sumo Squat to Hamstring Stretch (below) to your warm-up, as well. While improving your flexibility, you’ll also work your ankle mobility, the foundation for your movement. If that’s unstable, the rest of your body will follow suit, Anthony says. Watch the video below to see how to do it.