"Elevating the Game
One Player at a time"
WHY PLAY
THE BACKHAND
Martin Sturgess
 
 
 
 
 
WHY PLAY THE BACKHAND?
The 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. 
 

Because 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.

What 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.

Choosing 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.

If 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.
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