The pickleball topspin (roll) volley is one of my favorite shots and is a shot that I firmly believe anyone at the intermediate or advanced level should add to their arsenal. It’s a shot that allows one to be a bit more aggressive against a traditionally unattackable shot.
What is a Pickleball Topspin (Roll) Volley?
The pickleball topspin volley – also frequently referred to a roll volley – is a firm, half-swinging volley imparted with forward spinning motion on the ball causing the ball to drop and propel forward after the bounce.
When Should You Hit a Topspin (Roll) Volley?
An effective time to execute the roll volley is when you and your partner are positioned at the non-volley line and your opponents are back and you want to keep them pinned to the baseline.
Because the ball can be hit a little harder with topspin and still stay in the court of play, roll volleys are frequently and successfully executed from one’s own non-volley line when one’s contact point (where the paddle hits the ball) would be below the height of the net. This frequently occurs after your opponents attempt a drop shot or third shot drop.
It’s important to emphasize that even though you may be contacting the ball below the height of the net – and such balls are traditionally considered “unattackable” – a roll volley does allow you a more aggressive shot.
Take Time Away from your Opponent and Keep Them Pinned Back with a Topspin (Roll) Volley
For example, assume you and your partner are positioned at the non-volley line—perhaps after a return-of-serve – and your opponents are trying to hit a delicate, unattackable drop shot that lands in your non-volley zone so they can make their way up to their non-volley line.
Such a shot by your opponent – if executed well – would force you to hit “up” on your next shot (to clear the net) and would give them time to get to their own non-volley line where the advantage you once had is now neutralized.
Your opponent is, no doubt, hoping that you let that drop shot bounce. Afterall, if you let the ball bounce, they will have additional time to advance to their non-volley line.
You, on the other hand, want to keep your opponent as deep in their own court as possible. But how can you take a low ball and keep your opponent back at the same time? This is the situation in which a well-executed topspin (roll) volley would limit your opponent’s opportunity to advance.
How to Hit a Topspin (Roll) Volley
Roll volleys are executed with a low-to-high swing path. To hit this volley, you want to make sure you are making contact in front of you (not behind you) and as you swing it’s critically important to get the paddle under the ball. Then, with a low-to-high motion, push the paddle forward and brush up behind the ball.
Be Careful If Your Opponents Are Kitchen Crashers!
Extreme should be taken when considering this shot if your opponents are “kitchen crashers.” Because the topspin ball will start higher and then dip, the ball may be waist or chest high (because it hasn’t yet dipped) as your opponents are crashing through the transition zone on their way to their non-volley line. If you know they are crashing, you will want to hit a softer topspin volley that dips at their feet.
The topspin (roll) volley is a very important shot to add to your repertoire of shots. It’s a shot that allows one to be a bit more aggressive against a traditionally unattackable shot.
What about you? Is this a shot that you use regularly?
See you on the courts!
Todd is the talent behind PickleballMAX. He knows pickleball and demonstrates it on the court as a 4.5 – 5.0 player. In addition to creating content and running the PickleballMAX business, Todd is IPTPA Level II certified. As an instructor at the Ohio Pickleball Academy, he instructs students and runs adult and youth clinics. He also manages tournament desks throughout the tri state for tournaments ranging from 100-500 participants.