The Difference Between Rallying and Volleying in Tennis

Use different tennis rallies to create calorie-burning workouts.
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A tennis rally occurs when players hit the ball multiple times, usually after it bounces, while a volley is a ball hit out of the air before it lands. Players rally as part of a warmup, practice or drill session or during points when playing a match. Players generally rally from the baseline, and hit volleys when they are near the net. Rallying using different drills can improve your footwork, speed, cardio stamina and muscular endurance, and burn calories.


Rallies are stroke exchanges during which tennis players begin to return their partner’s or opponent’s shots after the serve has landed. Your ball must cross the net on a fly after you hit it, meaning the ball can’t touch the ground on your side of the net after you hit it. The rules of tennis require able-bodied players to hit the ball on a fly or after only one bounce, while wheelchair players may hit the ball after two bounces. Players usually rally from the baseline, using forehands and backhands.


Volleys are shots players hit out of the air that are not overheads or serves. Volleys are hit from head height or below, while overheads and serves are balls hit out of the air well above the head. Players normally hit volleys from the midcourt as they are approaching the net, or while they are standing near the net. The ball must cross the net without touching the ground to be good. Your racket can cross the net after you hit the ball, but not touch the net, and you must wait for the ball to cross the net into your court before you hit it. Your racket may not touch the net while the point is in play. A ball hit quickly, with little or no backswing, after it bounces is called a half-volley.

Crosscourt Rallies

As players develop more ball control, they practice crosscourt rallies, trying to keep the rally going using only one side of the court. This is a helpful way for older players who can’t cover the whole court to practice, and helps you develop better stroke skills, since you have less room to work with and must control your shots better. Add serve-and-volley points to your crosscourt drilling. Players serve and run to the net, trying to volley the return of serve from midcourt, finishing the point at the net.

Mini Tennis

If you think mini tennis is just for kids, think again. Reducing the size of your hitting area and your ball speed with mini tennis can help you create high-intensity workouts that burn many calories. Start at the service line with a partner on the other side of the net, and begin a rally using only the four service boxes as your court. Limit the speed of the ball to a moderate pace so it’s harder to end the point. Use sharp angles to run your opponent side to side. This will result in more running during longer points, raising your heart rate while you play. Don’t allow volleys during your points to prevent players from coming to the net and ending points quickly. Using low-compression balls that bounce more slowly, you can create even longer points.

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