The Punch Volley

In this video, professional pickleball player and IPTPA and PPR coach Tyson McGuffin talks about the techniques, grips, and strategy for using the forehand and backhand punch volley.

In order to successfully execute this shot, it is important to keep your body stable. Both upper and lower extremities should be still. I used to think those “can in hand” tournaments were goofy but it actually helps with your punch volleys because it trains you to be extremely still.

Next time you are drilling, try to have an open can or a solo cup half filled with water in your non-dominant while you’re volleying and do your best not to spill a drop. This is good training for keeping your body quiet and still when making your shots. I think this is what actually makes Bobby really good. You’ll rarely find him playing without a drink in his hand. Somehow, by playing and drinking at the same time, he has unintentionally (Or maybe it’s intentional?) trained himself to be perfectly balanced and still when making his volleys. LOL.

When executing punch volleys, your grip makes a difference. Most players use an Eastern or Continental grip. In this case, you’ll probably take most volleys with your backhand. If you are a player who uses a Western or Semi-Western aka “pancake” grip, then most of your volleys are going to be forehand volleys. Tyson does a great job of explaining this during the introduction portion at the beginning of the video (0:30 mark).

Some common tendencies that keep players from executing the punch volley successfully are — over swinging, too much wrist, swatting flies, or wrong contact position (either making contact with the ball too close to your body or when you’re too extended).

Here are some tips that I took away from the video:

  • Keep your body stable – upper and lower extremities should be still.
  • Consider the type of grip. I know a few people who can execute this shot using a “pancake” grip but it can feel awkward for most players so an Eastern or Continental grip is usually ideal.
  • Try not to make contact with the ball too close to your body but also try not be overextended.
  • Thank about absorbing and redirecting the pace versus generating power.

About a third of the way through this video (4:24 mark), Tyson shares a really good drill for practicing punch volleys. It’s similar to the figure 8 dinking drill that I love but in this case you are volleying so you and your partner will hit the ball in the air before it bounces. He also shares a fun game toward the end (9:13 mark). Drilling can be mind-numbing and monotonous sometimes so gamification is crucial. When you keep score and turn it into a game, drilling can be way more fun and you’re more likely to do it.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve found Tyson’s video and tips helpful and if you’ve seen improvement in your punch volleys since adopting his tips.

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