Few things in tennis are more satisfying than rushing the net, daring your opponent to try to pass you, then volleying her attempt right back over the net for a clean winner. Although you’ll typically grip your racket a bit differently on forehand and backhand groundstrokes, the action at the net happens too quickly to alter your hand positioning. As a result, it’s important to select a single grip to use when you’re volleying. Because you don’t know what type of volley you’ll hit, use a neutral grip that allows you hit either a forehand or backhand volley.
Learn the terminology for the eight flat sections of your racket’s grip. Hold the racket in front of you so the grip is horizontal and the head is perpendicular to the court. The two larger sections on the right and left of the grip are called the sides. The uppermost section is the top and the lowermost is the bottom. The remaining four sections are the bevels. The section between the top and the right side is bevel 1. If you hold the racket at eye level, the bevel numbers continue clockwise, with the section between the right side and the bottom referred to as bevel 2, etc.
Establish a Continental grip by setting the V shape created by your thumb and index finger on the top section of your racket and slightly toward the left, if you’re right-handed. The base knuckle of your index finger should be on bevel 1 with your thumb’s middle knuckle resting against the left side. Lefties should place the base knuckle on bevel 4.
Assume the Continental grip as soon as you decide to move toward the net to hit a volley. If you’re rushing the net after a serve you’ll likely keep your hand in the same position, as the Continental grip is typically used when serving. Likewise, if you’ve just hit a two-handed backhand, you’ll typically keep your bottom hand stationary. If you’ve just hit a one-handed backhand with a typical backhand grip, rotate the V shape to the right -- as you’re looking down at your hand -- to assume a Continental grip. Rotate to the left if you were in a typical forehand grip.
- Hit your backhand volleys with one hand, even if you normally play a two-handed backhand. You can move quicker and stretch farther with only one hand on the racket.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.