A single volley is nothing more than returning a shot before it bounces…in other words, hitting it in the air. “Volleying”, in turn, means exchanging volleys with an opponent. (If the ball bounces first, in pickleball you would then return a “half-volley” or “short-hop” if the ball doesn’t come up very far, or you would hit a dink, a drop-shot or a ground-stroke, either forehand or backhand. TMI? Sorry!). (OH, OK…more TMI…now you know why the “Kitchen” is more formally known as the “No Volley Zone”…you cannot hit the ball out of the Kitchen while it’s in the air. Isn’t it good that that is now clear to you? LOL!)
Anyway, volleying is a critical skill in pickleball, and generally for two reasons. One is that you get caught up in a “duel” at the net, banging balls at your opponent and she banging back at you. Another is that one of the most effective shots better players will hit, after you have hit your successful third-shot drop shot and are moving towards the net, is to place the ball back to you about waist-or-knee high and thereby will force you to hitting while on the move. The first scenario is VERY common, the second relatively common…and you need to have decent-to-good volley skills to become a proficient (3.5+) pickleball player IONSHO.
Various people will teach you different paddle positions when at the net preparing for a potential shot, BTW. Our current favorite is to have the paddle up to the level where the top edge of the paddle, if brought back towards you, would just edge under your chin. The paddle is cocked just slightly towards the backhand side at a diagonal. If you are taller, have great hand-eye coordination, or can leap like a gazelle (the province of the 20-somethings, we’re afraid), a good alternative position for the paddle might be more horizontal so that you can direct your volley back with a strong push shot down towards your opponent’s feet. This last possibility is implied in the true title of the course (Advanced Volley and Net Play).