“One of the first things to remember when volleying the ball is to make sure your non-kicking foot is firmly planted. If it isn’t, you could be off balance when striking the ball, which will affect the subsequent shot. Once set, it’s all about balance: this is why Van der Vaart has his arms spread wide – it keeps him poised as he gets set to follow through. His ankle is firmly set – essential for power and control – and he has eyes only for the ball. This is important because with defenders closing you down, it’s easy to get distracted.”
More after the break
Swing through the shot
“When striking any volley it’s useful to think of your foot as a golf club; when playing golf, you’ll want to follow through with a full swing. When connecting your shot, you want to aim to strike the ball near the top to make sure it doesn’t end up sailing over the crossbar. With his foot lower in this shot than the first, it shows that he’s come down on the ball, rather than striking parallel to the ground, which again ensures the ball stays down.”
Don’t look up too early
“As you follow through you can look up to see if your shot is heading for its intended target. Looking up too early, though, could mean you disrupt your balance and miscue. This is why volleying is such a difficult technique: get one small thing wrong and you won’t score. One final thing to remember is that to pull off a volley like this, you’ll need to stretch your groin before the game so you have that flexibility through your knee and leg.”
If you haven’t got the Dutchman’s technique just yet, don’t worry: this simple three-step exercise should help
Stand a few feet from a wall, drop the ball and as it bounces, make contact with your laces, concentrating on technique before catching it on the rebound. Repeat this 20 times with your right, then left foot.
As you get better stand further back from the wall and hit the ball harder, again catching the ball on the rebound. Repeat this movement 20 times with both your right, then left foot.
Throw the ball against the wall and try and volley it as it comes back to you, aiming to hit a specific target on the wall. Repeat 20 times with both feet.