What is a Volley in Pickleball? A Comprehensive Guide

What is a Volley in Pickleball? Master the Net with Precision

A volley in pickleball is a shot played before the ball bounces on the court, typically executed near the net and outside the non-volley zone (kitchen). Volleys are an essential part of the game, offering both offensive and defensive advantages. Mastering the volley technique involves proper positioning, a short and controlled swing, and precise ball placement. Developing strong volleying skills is crucial for becoming a well-rounded pickleball player and dominating the net area during rallies.

Key Takeaways

  • A volley in pickleball is a shot where you hit the ball out of the air before it bounces on the court.
  • Volleys are most commonly executed near the net, outside the non-volley zone (NVZ), also known as the kitchen.
  • Volleys offer offensive advantages, defensive maneuvers, and the ability to transition from defense to offense.
  • Mastering the volley technique involves proper positioning, grip, paddle placement, and a short, controlled swing.
  • There are different types of volleys, including block volleys, drive volleys, and angle volleys.
  • Common volley mistakes include hitting the ball too hard, being caught flat-footed, and volleying from the baseline.
  • Beginners should start with soft volleys, focus on footwork, and dedicate time to volley-specific drills.
  • Volleys have played a significant role in memorable pickleball moments throughout history.
  • Mastering the volley shot takes practice, patience, and persistence, but it is a crucial skill for becoming a well-rounded pickleball player.

Remember, incorporating volleys into your game can give you a competitive edge on the court. By understanding the techniques, strategies, and rules surrounding volleys, you’ll be well on your way to dominating the net and elevating your pickleball performance.

Pickleball, a fun and rapidly growing paddle sport, has captured the hearts of players worldwide. As you dive into this exciting game, understanding key terms like “volley” becomes crucial for success on the court. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the world of volleys in pickleball, providing you with the knowledge and techniques to master this essential shot.

Defining the Volley

What is a volley?

In pickleball, a volley is a shot where you hit the ball out of the air before it bounces on the court. Unlike groundstrokes, which involve hitting the ball after it has bounced, volleys require quick reflexes and precise timing. Volleys are governed by specific rules in pickleball, making it important to understand when and how to execute them effectively.

Where are volleys typically executed?

Volleys are most commonly used near the net, outside the non-volley zone (NVZ), also known as the kitchen. The kitchen is a 7-foot area on either side of the net where players are not allowed to volley the ball. By positioning yourself just outside the kitchen, you can take advantage of opportunities to hit volleys and put pressure on your opponents.

Why are Volleys Important?

Volleys play a crucial role in pickleball for several reasons:

  1. Offensive Advantage: Volleys allow you to maintain a fast pace and make it difficult for your opponents to return the shot effectively.
  2. Defensive Maneuver: When your opponents hit a drop shot near the net, a well-executed volley can help you counter their strategy.
  3. Transitioning from Defense to Offense: Hitting a strong volley can help you transition from a defensive position into an offensive role.

Mastering the Volley Technique

To execute effective volleys, focus on the following key elements:

  • Positioning: Maintain a low, athletic stance and keep your feet shoulder-width apart for quick movement.
  • Grip and Paddle: Use a continental or hammer grip for forehand volleys and a slight modification for backhand volleys.
  • Swing and Contact: Use a short, controlled swing and aim to make contact with the ball in front of your body.

Types of Volleys

There are different types of volleys you can employ depending on the situation:

Volley Type Description
Block Volley A simple, compact volley where you absorb the power of the incoming shot.
Drive Volley An aggressive volley hit with pace, aimed at the feet of your opponents.
Angle Volley A strategic volley aimed at hitting the ball at an angle for a challenging return.

Common Volley Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Watch out for these common mistakes when volleying:

  • Hitting the Ball Too Hard: Focus on control and placement rather than excessive power.
  • Being Caught Flat-footed: Stay on your toes and maintain an active, ready position.
  • Volleying from the Baseline: Volleys are most effective when executed near the net.

Tips for Beginners

If you’re new to pickleball, keep these tips in mind when practicing volleys:

  • Start with soft volleys and focus on control and accuracy before adding power.
  • Incorporate footwork drills to improve agility and reaction time.
  • Dedicate time to volley-specific drills, both solo and with a partner.

Famous Pickleball Volleys in History

Throughout pickleball history, there have been memorable volley shots that have left spectators in awe. One example is Ben Johns’ match-winning volley during the 2021 US Open Pickleball Championships, showcasing the importance of mastering this shot in high-pressure situations.


Volleys are a crucial aspect of pickleball, offering both offensive and defensive advantages on the court. By understanding the technique, positioning, and strategies involved, you can elevate your game and become a more well-rounded player.

Remember, mastering the volley shot takes practice and patience. Embrace the learning process, focus on control and accuracy, and experiment with different types of volleys. With dedication and persistence, you’ll soon find yourself confidently hitting volleys and dominating the net in your pickleball matches.


  1. What is the “kitchen” in pickleball, and how does it relate to volleys?
    The kitchen, also known as the non-volley zone (NVZ), is the 7-foot area on either side of the net in pickleball. Players are not allowed to hit volleys while standing in the kitchen.
  2. Can you volley the ball on the serve in pickleball?
    No, volleying the ball on the serve is not allowed. The serve must be an underhand motion, and the ball must bounce once on each side of the court before players can start volleying.
  3. How do you know if a volley is legal or a fault?
    A volley is legal if you hit the ball out of the air before it bounces on your side of the court and you are standing outside the kitchen. If your feet touch the kitchen while volleying or if you volley the ball before it crosses the net, it is considered a fault.
  4. What is the difference between a volley and a half-volley in pickleball?
    A volley is when you hit the ball out of the air before it bounces. A half-volley is when you hit the ball immediately after it bounces, typically when the ball is still very low to the ground.
  5. Are there any restrictions on where you can stand when hitting a volley?
    Yes, the main restriction is that you cannot be standing in the kitchen (non-volley zone) when hitting a volley. You must wait for the ball to bounce if you are inside the kitchen.

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