Pickleball is a fun sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. One important shot in pickleball is the punch volley. The punch volley helps players attack the ball and put pressure on their opponents. This article will explain what the punch volley is and when to use it in pickleball.
What is a Punch Volley?
To make a punch volley, a player uses a short, quick forward motion. They punch the paddle at the ball. The player keeps their paddle face perpendicular or slightly open. Their wrist stays firm as they swing mostly from the elbow.
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How is a Punch Volley Different from Other Shots?
The punch volley differs from other volley shots in pickleball:
- It is more compact than an overhead volley. Overheads use a bigger backswing and follow-through.
- A punch volley hits the ball out of the air. Groundstrokes let the ball bounce first.
- It is hit with a forward punch. Swing volleys use a longer swing and wrist snap.
- The paddle stays perpendicular to the court. For a rolling volley, the paddle rolls over the ball.
When to Use a Punch Volley
Here are common situations where a punch volley can be used effectively:
On the Fourth Shot
In pickleball, the player hitting the fourth shot often punches the ball low and deep. This puts pressure on the opponent. The punch volley is a good fourth shot option to attack with.
At the Kitchen Line
When at the non-volley zone line (the “kitchen line”), punch volleys can hit down into the opponent’s court. This is an offensive play.
Against Fast Shots
If an opponent hits a fast, low shot, the punch volley can quickly counter-attack. Using it against hard third shot drops or drives keeps opponents deep.
On the Backhand Side
The backhand punch volley is especially useful. It’s effective for handling shots to the backhand and keeping opponents back.
During Speed Ups
In a speed-up, both players volley quickly without letting the ball bounce. The punch volley’s quickness makes it ideal for speed-ups.
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Punch Volley Technique
Here are some tips for proper technique when executing punch volleys:
Keep the Wrist Firm
A rigid wrist is important so energy transfers fully from the arm swing into the ball.
Use the Elbow as a Hinge
The elbow acts as the hinge to help punch the arm and paddle forward to strike the ball compactly.
Swing Forward with Control
Swing forward in a controlled manner, being careful not to overswing. Keep the motion compact.
Hit with the Center of the Paddle
Make contact with the center or “sweet spot” of the paddle face for best control.
Follow Through Below the Waist
Finishing the swing below waist level creates a downward angle on the shot.
Keep feet about shoulder width apart and weight centered to remain balanced during the shot.
Watch the Ball
Keep eyes focused on the ball throughout the swing to ensure solid contact.
Be Ready to Move
Prepare to move forward or back quickly after the volley to defend the next shot.
Punch Volley Drills
Doing drills is useful for developing consistent punch volleys:
- Short court volley practice – Hit volleys back and forth on a shortened court to work on quick reactions. Move closer together as skills improve.
- Backhand punch isolation – Trade backhand volleys focusing just on this stroke to groove the technique.
- Drop and punch – Partner drops balls to practice punching volleys down into the kitchen in an offensive manner.
- Two-shot sequences – Combine the punch volley with another shot like a groundstroke or overhead to replicate match play.
- Alternating punch locations – Hit punch volleys alternating directions crosscourt and down the line.
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The Punch Volley vs. the Swing Volley
The punch volley was once the standard volley technique in pickleball. But in recent years, the swing volley has become more widely used. What is the difference between these two important shots?
- Compact, forward motion
- Wrist remains firm
- Controlled, short swing
- Elbow hinge provides power
- Great for quick reactions at non-volley line
- Longer, freer swinging motion
- Wrist uncocks to add spin and control
- Bigger backswing and follow through
- Generates more power and placement
- Effective for putting away shots mid-court
The punch volley provides a controlled way to volley balls out of the air. The swing volley adds more power and finesse. Mastering both will give players full attacking options around the court.
The punch volley is an important technique in pickleball for quick reflex volleys. It lets players attack with a compact motion, especially from the non-volley zone line. Proper form is needed to execute the punch effectively. This includes firm wrist, forward swing, elbow bend, balanced footwork, and keeping the eyes on the ball. Punch volleys can help win points in key situations like on the fourth shot, against hard attacks, on the backhand, and during speed-ups. While the swing volley has grown popular, the punch volley remains a valuable tool for well-rounded pickleball players. Learning punch volley skills can aid in developing a strong all-around pickleball game.