PLAY THE BACKHAND?
best platform players in the World, with very few exceptions,
prefer to use their backhand volley as opposed to the forehand
as their predominant stroke at the net. This may seem strange
to some players, especially if they’ve played years of
tennis doubles, where the forehand volley is preferred. The
main reason for the difference lies in the relative size of
the platform tennis court, opposed to a tennis court. Since
a platform court is considerably smaller than a tennis court,
and is surrounded by screens that return the ball towards the
net, the strategy on platform tennis volleys is not the same
as in tennis.
When you are volleying in platform tennis, your main concern
should be merely to successfully return the ball into the court
and not to hit a powerful shot or one with extreme placement.
I am always reminding players to ‘not get too greedy’
with their volleys by trying to do too much with the ball and
often resulting in a missed shot. Your goal on a volley may
be affected by how prepared you are for the ball to be hit to
you, the speed of the drive, and the court positioning of your
opponents. In most cases, however, when you are confronted with
a well hit drive, your only goal should be to block the ball
back into the court. Ideally, your shot will not ‘pop
up’ and will land behind the opposing service line.
of the short distance between you and your opponents, good
volleying requires quick reflexes, good paddle preparation,
and anticipation. The close proximity of your opponents gives
you very little time to react and makes it very difficult
to volley well if you are ready at the net with your paddle
in a neutral position. A neutral paddle position will usually
result in a lot of missed shots and body contorting by the
volleyer. A well hit drive does not give the net player time
to decide between a forehand and a backhand. Players that
are ready at the net with their paddles in a neutral position
probably wonder how other players can be so quick, fearless,
and aggressive at the net while they themselves always seem
to be reacting late on drives and backing away from the net.
Learning to have your paddle in the proper position can make
a dramatic improvement in your volleying.
about the ‘windshield wiper’ forehand volley?
In order to be successful, with this style of volley, you
must stay very low and be close to the net, since it is very
difficult to volley balls that are below shoulder level. Because
of this you will need to work hard at getting in close to
the net after you hit serves and overheads. If you get caught
away from the net, your ‘windshield’ forehand
breaks down. Another drawback to this system is that the physical
demands of this system result in decreased success with age
and stamina loss.
to favor the backhand volley is the wiser, more versatile,
and proven choice. The backhand side of the paddle can easily
be used to cover a ball coming directly at you as well as
any balls heading towards your left side (right handed players)
with little physical effort. It is also relatively easy to
handle low balls using the backhand. If the ball is hit towards
your right side, it can be volleyed by either moving your
body over to the right, moving your paddle over to the ball,
keeping the backhand position, or by quickly turning the wrist
in order to square the forehand side of the paddle with the
path of the ball.
With practice, you can learn to position yourself on the court
so that you are hitting predominantly backhand volleys using
very little paddle movement. You will also learn to look for
the few situations that may require you to be more alert for
the ball to come to your forehand side, but that is a topic
for another article.
you have ever tried to drive balls against a team that uses
good court positioning, teamwork, and good solid backhand volley
technique, then you already know how effective this system can
be and how difficult it is to beat.