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What is a Volley in Pickleball?

Male athlete volleys pickleball at the net.

When I play pickleball, I like to win. A volley move when playing pickleball helps me do just that. When I play a game of pickleball, the ball has to bounce.

If the pickleball does not bounce at least once, this can be a volley move. However, there is also a non-volley zone where volleying in pickleball is not permitted. Learn more about how to play pickleball and how to score using volley moves in this article about pickleball playing moves.

Basic Rules for Pickleball

Black and White pickleball paddle with colorful small pickleballs on white background.

The basic rules for pickleball discuss the number of pickleball bounces that must happen per game. According to the rules, the ball has to stay inbounds, out of the non-volley zone or NVZ, and it has to bounce once per side. Here is where the volley move comes into play.

If you volley a pickleball, you do not allow the ball to bounce before making a move. Is this legal?

What is a Volley in Pickleball?

Senior man volleys a pickleball over the net.

According to Racket Source, “A punch volley is created using leverage mostly from the elbow, by maneuvering the paddle to go over the ball with the butt of the paddle finishing down and often below the net. … Simply put, for most players, the odds of winning a point on a successful punch volley are low and will put players in a defensive position.” A basic way to volley in pickleball is to hit a ball while it is in the air and before it bounces.

While a pickleball must bounce once on each side, the volley move is used to hit the ball after the first bounce and before it bounces again. If a player is returning a pickleball over the net and it is in the non-volley zone, they can hit the ball low and hard in this way. The use of the volley move can be done in a couple of directions.

The player can hit the ball with the paddle using a backhanded move, or with a forehand stroke. Backhands are more common in pickleball, but you can forget about performing a backswing as this will not work for scoring in this game.

What is a backswing and is this a legal move in pickleball?

A backswing allows you to hit the pickleball with a blocking motion that uses vertical movement of the paddle. You are not allowed to push the ball over the net with a backswing. The goal of hitting a pickleball is to position the pickleball in such a manner that it makes it difficult for the opposition to return the ball.

This helps you to score.

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About the Double Bounce Rule for Volleys

The double bounce rule for volleying in pickleball requires the ball to bounce on each side per team once before it can be hit again. The ball bounces in each court one time and then the players are open to volleying the ball. They can volley a ball before it bounces again with the back and forth rallying.

Players can also volley a pickleball by playing it off a bounce, which is called a ground stroke.

9 Types of Pickleball Volleys

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) recognizes the differences in pickleball volleys. There are several ways to perform a pickleball volley. The basic way to complete a volley in this game is when rallying, one player hits the ball in the air before it bounces on the court.

The way to win a game of pickleball revolves around the use of moves like volleys.

1. Where can you volley in pickleball?

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Volleys are permitted anywhere on the pickleball court, other than in the non-volley zone (NVZ)–as the name suggests. For instance, you may strike a volley at the baseline, anywhere between the NVZ line and the baseline, or anywhere else on the pickleball court besides the NVZ.

About the Non-Volley Zone in Pickleball

The non-volley zone in pickleball, according to the Pickler, is “Also known as the Kitchen, is the 14-foot area in the middle of the court, which extends 7 feet on either side of the pickleball net. The Non-Volley Zone rules are some of the pickleball rules that make the sport of pickleball truly unique.” Rec Sports from Michigan State University explains further that, “It is a fault if, after volleying, a player is carried by momentum into or touches the non-volley zone, even if the volleyed ball is declared dead before this happens.

A player may legally be in the non-volley zone any time other than when volleying a ball. The non-volley zone is commonly referred to as “the kitchen.”

2. What are the different types of volleys?

In pickleball, there are several types of volleys. This includes six types of legal volley moves players can do when playing the game. The six volleys in pickleball are:

  • Block volley
  • Drop volley
  • Half volley
  • Lob volley
  • Punch volley
  • Swinging volley

These are the legal volley moves that can be carried out in a game of pickleball. Each one has an official name, and therefore, there are rules for carrying out each of these volleys. Learn all about the different pickleball volleys before you go out on the court.

This will help you excel in the game of pickleball in a safe way.

3. What is a punch volley?

The first volley in pickleball that I want to discuss is the punch volley. This type of volley is the most common type of volley. This is a pickleball volley involving netplay and a bit of fancy handwork.

According to MasterClass, “For a punch volley, the player at the net punches their racket forward and slightly down, adding underspin to the ball.” If you are interested in volleying while playing pickleball, the punch volley is the easiest and strongest to utilize. Therefore, you most likely will start out using the punch volley as a basic volley move in pickleball.

4. What is a block volley?

Writers at Apple Country Pickleball explain, “The block volley is hit with the paddle parallel…to the net to simply deflect the ball straight back to the opponents.” This is a type of volley that does not require a spin on the ball in order to make it a successful move. It is a basic punch volley with less power.

5. What is a drop volley?

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A drop volley shot is used to send the opponent’s pickleball into the NVZ. This is used to put the pickleball out of play with a gentler shot compared to other volley moves. Compared to the punch volley and the block volley, the drop volley is the least powerful move.

Use this technique when you barely want to get the ball back across the net.

6. What is a half volley?

A half volley, says Swinton Pickleball, “A half volley is a groundstroke shot where the paddle contacts the ball immediately after it bounces from the court and before the ball rises to its potential height.” You could say that this involves a short bounce, and therefore a player cannot get the maximum impact of a true pickleball volley.

7. What is a lob volley?

A pickleball serve concentration.

This type of volley is most commonly seen with doubles rather than single players. The use of a lob volley allows for a player to hit the ball over the top of the other team’s head. Hitting the pickleball with a lob force will require a backhand or forehand movement.

The lob stroke sends the pickleball deep into the court near the baseline. Therefore, this move is used when a player wants to get the pickleball all the way to the back fast.

8. What is a block volley?

A block volley is a pickleball that is hit with a paddle in a way that deflects the ball right back to the other team. The use of a block volley is to literally block the shot from another player. This is a move used defensively to stop a pickleball player from getting another shot in to score.

9. What is a swinging volley?

Female, Asian pickleball player hits a clean volley in tournament.

The sixth style of volley that is used in pickleball is the swinging volley. This is also known as a swing volley. A swing volley is an attack shot that is used in multiple places.

Whether I am standing in the non-volley zone or the transition area, I can use this type of volley to destroy the competition. The swinging volley is used when I want to take control of the play, by being able to swing with my upper body in a natural way.