At my junior and adult camps at the Nike Tahoe Tennis Camp, the first thing I do is evaluate all the campers so as to get them into groups of commensurate ability. Time and time again I'm amazed at the number of players, experienced or not, who are basically clueless when it comes to volleying. As they get closer to the net, it's as if they enter a "twilight zone" and become remarkably less proficient.
Why is that? Well, let's face it, things tend to happen more quickly at the net, and, for a lot of people, that creates a feeling of uneasiness or outright fear of being hit by the ball. The upshot is they spend the majority of their time at or near the baseline where things are "safer." Naturally, a player who spends little time at the net is unlikely to become a technically adept volleyer.
But there are many players who spend plenty of time at the net who also struggle with their volleys-doubles players. So practice alone is obviously not the issue.
It's too bad because any player who lacks the ability to volley confidently, regardless of level or experience, is missing out on an essential and highly enjoyable part of the game. In this series of 3 articles, I hope to shed some light on what makes for better volleying whatever your current proficiency.
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