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This question originated from the larger question here about returning aggressive serves. So

Is the footwork in the volley-returning serve the same as in the basic volley near the net?

  • You seem to have your terms mixed up a little so this question is a little confusing to me. You cannot return a serve by hitting a volley. A volley is when you hit the ball before it has hit the ground on your side of the net - which you are not allowed to do on the serve. Are you referring to when you just block the return back instead of taking a swing at it? – jamauss Nov 16 '14 at 23:15
  • @jamauss yes -- I used the term "Volley" here to describe the blocking of the return back instead of taking a swing at it. I think the grip is the same as in volley so that is why I called it volley even though footwork is probably not. – hhh Nov 17 '14 at 0:11
  • It isn't a volley if the ball has bounced. Please don't misuse standard terminology. What you're talking about is called a blocked return, and it isn't the same as a volley from either the rack work or the footwork point of view. – user207421 Jul 2 '16 at 4:14
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This is a subtle question because it depends - as everything else in tennis - what kind of ball you have to deal with and what you aim to do with it.

Human beings - i.e not Federer - typically block serves with the sole aim of getting the ball back in play, preferably with some depth. Often enough, height is not a crucial factor as long as the ball isn't a total floater. In light of this, the typical footwork for blocking service returns is somewhat docile in practice: most players do not shift their bodyweight forward nor bend their knees very much.

A typical volley, on the other hand, is hit under very different circumstances and with very different purpose. First of all, they are mostly hit while moving forward, which already determines a lot of the footwork. Second, they are mostly hit close to the net with the ball dropping sharply, so the knees must be bent much more than when returning serve. Lastly, it is often essential to keep your volleys low so as not to give your opponent time and space to generate reasonable pace. But this requires much more purposeful footwork, comprised of many small adjustments to control your center of gravity and momentum.

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