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The Volley

The volley is a fundamental and important shot in pickleball, particularly at the net. A volley is when a player hits the ball in the air before it bounces. Mastering the volley is crucial for maintaining control transitioning to the kitchen from the baseline and responding effectively to opponents' shots. Here's more information about the volley in pickleball:

The volley

Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) a.k.a the Kitchen:

  • Players are not allowed to volley the ball while standing inside the non-volley zone NVZ/Kitchen." The NVZ/Kitchen is the area within 7 feet on either side of the net.

  • To legally volley the ball, a player must have both feet outside the NVZ/Kitchen.

  • After volleying the ball in the air, the player’s momentum cannot carry them into the NVZ/Kitchen. 

Volley Technique:

  • Keeping the paddle face steady and minimizing unnecessary movement is essential for consistent and accurate volleys.

  • Successful volleys often require "soft hands," meaning that players absorb the pace of the incoming ball rather than attempting to generate excessive power.

  • Soft hands help maintain control and placement of the volley.

Reaction Time:

  • Volleys require quick reflexes and good reaction time. Being prepared for the opponent's shot and adjusting to the ball's trajectory are key aspects of effective volleying.

Net Play:

  • The volley is a critical component of net play, especially in doubles. Players at the net engage in exchanges, known as "dinking," and when one is hit too high, this is where volleys are frequently used.

Strategic Positioning:

  • Players often use volleys strategically to gain or maintain an advantageous position at the net. Well-placed volleys can allow players to transition from the baseline up to the NVZ/Kitchen line. 

  • Volleys can also force opponents into defensive positions and set up opportunities for winners.

Blocking Shots:

  • Volleys are often used to block or redirect opponents' shots rather than hitting aggressive winners. This controlled approach helps maintain consistency and minimizes errors.

Lob Volleys:

  • Skilled players may execute volleys with a slight upward motion to create a lob, sending the ball high over opponents' heads and forcing them to move backward.

Depth and Placement:

  • Good volleying involves placing the ball deep in the opponent's court to limit their options and create opportunities for a winning shot.


  • Regular practice is essential for developing reliable volleying skills. Players often engage in drills that simulate fast-paced net exchanges to improve their reaction time and control.

Transition from Baseline to the Net:

  • Players may use volleys to transition from the baseline to a net-dominant position at the NVZ/Kitchen line, resetting the point during transition when necessary.

Two-Bounce Rule:

  • After the serve and return serve when both teams let the ball bounce once, volleys may begin. This rule promotes fair play and minimizes the advantage of aggressive net play.

In summary, mastering the volley is a key aspect of becoming a well-rounded pickleball player. It contributes to effective net play, enhances overall court awareness, and allows players to dictate the pace of the game.

The most important things to do while volleying:

  • Keep volleys low and land the ball into the opponent's NVZ/Kitchen

  • Bend knees and use the volley effectively during transition to get from the baseline to the NVZ/Kitchen

  • Use volleys as resets to slow down the opponent’s speed-ups

  • When all players are at the NVZ/Kitchen and the opportunity presents itself, look to execute a volley lob, sending the ball high over opponents' heads and forcing them to move backward

Are you interested in learning more about this pickleball shot? Or taking lessons to help you improve + master it? Click the link below to schedule time for your personalized lesson with our certified pickleball instructors! 

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