Types of shot

A tennis coach giving a tennis lesson on types of tennis strokes

Volleys and smashes

Volleys and smashes can be used to win points quickly and easily. Here are some top tips to master the technique:

  •  A volley is when you hit the ball before it bounces so is therefore often played when you’re close to the net
  • Hold the racket with a neutral (otherwise known as a 'chopper') grip. This should look like you're holding a hammer. Point the racket up to the sky and hold it out in front of your body
  • You have less time when you're standing at the net so try not to swing at the ball. Block the ball back, making contact in front and to the side of your body using the power of your opponent's shot
  • If the ball is high above your head then you should be trying to smash it back with power (like a serve) to win the point

Forehands & backhands

Here are a few pointers to help improve your forehands and backhands:

  • The fastest way to serve and rally is to hold the racket with a neutral/chopper grip (again, like you’re holding a hammer) which can then be used for all strokes
  • More advanced players will have a different grip for the forehand and backhand which helps to generate more spin on the ball – but this requires constant grip changes
  • Try to work out where the ball is going to bounce so that you can get in to a good position to make contact with the ball
  • Contact point should be out to the side and slightly in front of your body. The racket should be horizontal and at waist height when it makes contact with the ball. Make sure the strings are facing slightly upwards so the ball goes up and over
  • After you have hit the ball, recover close to the centre of the line at the back of the court (the baseline) so that you’re ready for the next shot


Returning the serve is also an essential skill and one of the most common shots in tennis. Your goal for the return is to simply start the rally by getting the ball back in to play from your opponent's serve. Good returners will:

  • Be ready! Wait in an athletic position similar to a goalkeeper standing between the posts in football
  • Recover to a good court position near the centre of the baseline ready for your next shot
  • Follow the ball with your racket for as long as possible after making contact with the ball


The serve is the most important shot in tennis and the most used as it starts every point. To achieve success with your serve, try the following top tips;

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly sideways on to the baseline
  • Hold the racket with a neutral/chopper grip (like you’re holding a hammer)
  • Toss the ball up above your head with a straight arm
  • As you throw your racket up towards the ball the edge of the racket frame should lead. Just before you hit the ball turn your arm and wrist outward to make contact with the strings, not the frame
  • Your racket should make contact with the ball above your head at a 12 o’clock position
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