Serve-and-volley no longer dominates pro tennis like it once did, but it’s still popular in clubs around the world. Find out how to play it successfully.
Ever since the early 2000s, serve-and-volley has fallen out of favour with the pros. The style that made Becker, Sampras and McEnroe famous has been replaced by fast baseline play as perfected by Gaël Monfils.
In clubs all around the world, though, serve-and-volley still has its devotees. The style of play lets you:
- surprise your opponent by attacking the ball and mixing it up with baseline play
- rest after a long rally by finishing the point quickly
- force an error by giving your opponent less of the court to aim at
- disrupt your opponent’s momentum by mixing up your style of play
Working out your serve-and-volley strategy is key. You can…
1. Serve wide and volley into the open court
Serving wide makes your opponent move away from the court and means the whole court is empty. You can then volley your opponent’s return into wide open space.
2. Serve wide and wrong-foot your opponent
Send your opponent away from the court with a sliced, wide serve. Then wrong-foot them by volleying the ball back to the same corner while they’re running back to the middle.
3. Serve down the middle and wrong-foot your opponent
Serve right down the middle and then volley the ball in the opposite direction your opponent is moving.
Once you’ve worked out your strategy for playing serve-and-volley, there are 5 golden rules to remember:
Don’t rush your serve
The temptation for serve-and-volley players is to get to the net quickly, but you have to get your serve right first.
Do some interval training away from the court
This kind of training helps you get faster and develop the short bursts of speed that serve-and-volley players need. Check out our running shoes.
Think about your court positioning
Make sure you don’t get beaten by a down-the-line shot and cut down your opponent’s options when they’re returning your serve
Learn to deal with lob shots
Your opponent might go overhead when you’re up to the net, so work on turning quickly and playing shots on the spin.
Perfect your backhand and forehand volley
It’s an obvious one, but serve-and-volley is nothing without a solid volley. Most players feel more comfortable with the backhand, but you’ll need to work on your forehand too.
If serve-and-volley is your number 1 style of play, you’ll need a pair of shoes that help you get from the baseline to the net quickly.