Volleyball requires speed, agility, and teamwork. Whether you’re an experienced or inexperienced player, good players know that there’s always room for improvement. Learning which areas of your game could use a little work can help you develop as a player, improving your skills, teamwork, and all-around fitness.
Improving Your Skills
Learn to serve overhand. While many top players have perfected the jump serve, a simple overhand serve may be just as effective. Stand behind the serving line, toss the ball to a comfortable height over your head and hit it with a flat palm over the net as hard as you can. The ball must stay in bounds on the other side of the net. While underhand and sidearm serves put the ball in play, they are not as difficult to return as overhand serves, and are not as desirable to learn.
Practice your serving pitch. For both types of serve, toss the ball to your hitting hand and aim for the lower part of the ball. Try hitting the ball not with your palm but with the horseshoe part of your hand for a more accurate serve. Make sure you have positioned yourself and aimed correctly or the ball will go haywire.
Experiment with force. What’s too much? What’s too little? Soon enough your muscles will remember what works and you’ll be able to aim the ball like a bullet out of a gun.
Learn to pass and bump with accuracy. One of the first things that you’ll need to learn after getting your serve developed is how to pass the ball effectively to a player in the setting position and give your team the best chance of scoring a point. The best passes and passers can calm the ball down, removing the spin and getting the ball high enough into the air to give the setter time to get under it.
Develop the proper form to pass and bump. Hold your arms straight in front of you and put one palm inside the other, using the space between your elbows and wrists to guide the ball. Cup one hand and place your other hand on top of the cupped palm. Bring your thumbs together so that they face out and away from you, but do not cross your thumbs.
When you bump, you want the ball to hit the inside part of your forearm. This will be more sensitive at first, but it allows you to have a flat, even surface for the ball to bounce off. Practice passing back and forth with a partner, trying to put the ball in the same place every time you pass. You don’t even need a net.
Learn to set effectively. The intention of a good set is to give others players an opportunity to score for the team. A set, like an assist in basketball or soccer, is the best way of contributing to the flow of the game and give your team a chance to get ahead. Depending on who you’re playing with, sets need to be The setter should be loud and clear if calling help and if not, then she should call her hitter.
Place your hands above your head so that when you look up, your index fingers and thumbs create a triangle shape (without your hands touching). When you are attempting a set, you should be attempting to center the ball in this triangle and using only the pads of your fingers to push the ball back up.
Try shrugging your shoulders while bending your arms at a slant during your sets and bumps. If you’re moving from your elbows, chances are that you aren’t going to get maximum power. When you set, it also helps if you form your hands into a diamond and look through as you’re hitting the ball.
Learn to spike powerfully. The spike, sometimes called the “kill” should ideally be the the third touch on the ball. Performed correctly, it should end with a point for your team. Although it’s best practiced with a net, players can drill effectively to get the wrist-snapping action down pat. Practice spikes with one teammate, letting one player pass, the partner set it back, so the first may spike it down to the partner, who digs it up. Repeat this process in the opposite rotation. After a few rounds, you’ll be developing the fundamental skills and improving significantly.
Learn to block. Volleyball is about a lot more than offense. Learning to coordinate your blocks as a team and keep the other team from scoring will set you apart and improve your standing on the court. It’s a simple skill, but learning to react and leap quickly into the path of the ball requires practice.
The best blocking drill involves three people and a net, letting other players practice shooting simultaneously. Let one teammate set, one hit, and one block. Let the two offensive players practice setting and shooting and the other player attempt to jump as high as possible and block.
If you don’t have a net, practice blocking by working on your vertical leap. Practice jumping effectively and improving your power and the height in your jumps.
Developing Your Teamwork
Practice from different positions. In order to become a better player, you need to learn to play from all the positions. From the net to the back line, you need to get experience all over the court, regardless of your height and your skill set. Even if you’re particularly good at one position, play from all over.
Hustle. Go after every ball, even if you don’t think that you can get it. Go for every ball like it’s your last hit, giving it your all each and every time you’re on the court. If you’re in it 110%, everyone else will feel the pressure, too. Soon enough, your entire team will be firing on all cylinders.
Communicate with your teammates. The game of volleyball relies on good communication and the best team on the court is usually the team talking the most. Call “got” or “mine” really loud to avoid confusion between you and your teammates. Yell whether the ball is in or out. If you see a tip coming let your team know. Your whole squad will benefit from just one person talking.
Be coachable. Good volleyball players know that they always need to get better. Learning to take constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement is an important part of improving your play, whether you’re on a volleyball team or playing informally with friends. If someone, a coach or a teammate, makes a suggestion, listen openly and try to integrate new ideas into your practice routine. Make it a goal to get better.
Be a mentally tenacious player. If you hit a ball out or shank a pass, try and stay positive. Just move on and focus on the next serve. Volleyball is a mental sport and by getting down, you will greatly impact your game in a negative way. Stay focused and intent on winning. Find the zone and stay there. When your teammates see you playing with intensity and poise, it’ll rub off on everyone and improve the team as a group.
Be alert, even if you are winning with a 10 point lead, the game could easily turn around with a good server. Focus on seeing a game through till the end and not changing your focus until the job is done.
Be a good sportsperson. Know that even if you don’t win, you can always play another game and hit the ball twice as hard next time. Your teammates will appreciate your good attitude, regardless of your performance.
Encourage your teammates. High-fives, vocal encouragement, and positive vibes should always be coming from good players. Whether you’re on the court or on the bench, always be cheering your team on and focused in with the game.
Improving Your Fitness
Develop your speed. It’s a common misconception that volleyball is a sport that requires arm strength. In reality, good volleyball players have learned to be in the right place at the right time, and use the proper techniques. While strength is important, the best places aren’t always the strongest, but are able to move efficiently and fluidly around the court.
Practice wind sprints and side-to-side shuffle runs to improve your ability to move around the court quickly and effectively. Learn to be in the right place at the right time.
Incorporate plyometrics into your training. Plyometrics involves using your body as resistance, meaning you can do it anywhere, at any time, all by yourself. Working on jumping and using your weight for resistance will help you get into and stay in volleyball shape.
Improve your vertical leap. A high vertical jump gives a hitter or a blocker numerous advantages on the volleyball court. Train hard by jumping rope, doing squats, and practicing tuck jumps, and your vertical will increase dramatically. The key is to keep up with it.
Practice with a jump rope. This is one of the most amazing tools for general fitness, as it increases endurance, and helps your jumping muscles. Look up some good jump rope routines.
Train with agility workouts. You have to be fast enough to react and pass a ball in volleyball, meaning that training should focus on improving your all-around agility and fast-twitch muscle reaction times.
Strengthen your lower body and core muscles. Volleyball players spend a lot of time in the ready position, a partial squat that allows players to react quickly and powerfully to the approaching ball. For beginning players, staying in this position for long periods of time can be quickly exhausting, so developing your lower body and core strength will help you be the best player you can be during the whole game. Improve your endurance by improving your core strength.
Try wall sits. If you “sit on a wall” then your muscles in your thighs will get strong. You need strong thighs in volleyball because you need to squat down a little bit to show that you are down and ready.
Try a circuit-training regimen, if you’re looking for a good all-around fitness workout that will benefit your volleyball skills. This can be a good way to incorporate aerobic exercise, strength-training, and stamina-building workout skills, improving you as a player.
Don’t forget to communicate with your teammates.
Always cheer up your teammates when they also shank a ball, so the whole team doesn’t get down.
It takes time to become a good hitter, just keep practicing and it will come.
Keep your tray (inner arms that you bump with) nice and flat, so the ball goes in the exact direction you want it to.
Work as a team, not several individuals. Without a good pass, how will the setter ever make a set, and set up a kill?
Try practicing against a wall to improve your bumping, setting, and receiving skills.
Make sure you know all the right hand motions.
When hitting, make sure that your elbow is high and that you snap your wrist as you contact the ball.
A good way to practice hitting is by taking a volleyball, going to a wall outside, and then hitting the ball against the wall. Take the ball, hit it to the ground so that it hits the ground, then the wall, and then it comes back up so that you are able to hit it at the ground again, and repeat this.
Don’t stress too much if your skills don’t build up immediately, becoming good at a sport will take time and lots of patience.
Always wear kneepads, and you may want to wear ankle braces of some sort if you have experienced ankle problems in the past.
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