How to Become a Better Volleyball Player
To become a dominant force in any sport, you mustn’t just hone your reaction time, speed, and agility, but you must also learn how to effectively communicate with your coaches and teammates. However, volleyball isn’t just any sport. Volleyball is a physically and mentally intense team sport that involves precise timing and coordinated positioning to successfully bump, pass, and spike the ball. Becoming a better volleyball player, teammate, and all-around athlete also requires dedicated effort in mastering fundamental gameplay techniques.
If you want to take your volleyball game to the next level and grow into a championship-level player worthy of wearing your team’s custom volleyball jersey, you must go back to the basics and perfect your serving, passing, blocking, setting, and spiking skills.
Hone Your Serving Skills
Performed from the back corner of the court, the serve sets every game of volleyball in motion. A properly served ball at the beginning of a volleyball match can put the other team on their heels and give you and your team the advantage right from the start. To learn how to master a game-controlling serve that clears the net every time, practice the following techniques.
- The serving stance. Well-placed feet are integral for a powerful and successful serve. Step the foot opposite your striking hand forward so that you possess sufficient leverage as you strike and follow-through your serve.
- The follow-through. Make sure to always follow-through with your serving motions so that you can control the trajectory of the ball both during and after the impact of your serve. Continuing to accelerate through the ball can also assist in getting the ball over the net.
- The overhand serve. To perform an overhand serve, toss the ball straight up into the air with one hand while holding your serving hand in a ready position at shoulder height. As the ball begins its descent, swing your fully extended serving arm up over your head and hit the middle of the ball with an open palm in a downward motion. Two of the most common overhand serves in competitive high school and college volleyball are the floater and the topspin.
- Floater serves do not spin, but instead float unpredictably to the right or the left — making it hard for the other team to pass. Floaters are hit directly behind the middle of the ball to ensure it doesn’t spin.
- Topspin serves will spin forward rapidly after striking the top back of the ball with an outward wrist-snap follow through.
- The jump serve. Basically an overhead serve with a jump, a jump serve is just as effective as an overhand serve and can assist you in clearing the net with greater force and accuracy. To perform a jump serve, stand behind the serving line, stoop down, and jump up as you toss the ball straight overhead. As you rise to meet the ball, swing your extended arm over your head and strike through the ball with a flat palm while aiming for the adjacent, in-bounds square on the opposing side.
To find out which type of serve works best for you, test your accuracy by experimenting with different levels of force. After sufficient practice, your muscle memory will kick in and your motions will become more natural.
Polish Your Passing Skills
After locking down your serving style, you’ll need to learn how to effectively pass the ball to a teammate without sending it to the ground. A good passer can deescalate the momentum of the serve by removing its spin and slowing it to a point where another member of the team can return it. To master the skill of passing with accuracy, practice these drills.
- Fast feet – After the ball is served to you from the opposing team, you must quickly position yourself behind the spot where the ball will land. This involves rapidly estimating the ball’s trajectory to determine its landing and moving your body in place to receive it.
- Instant communication – So that there is no confusion, you must call each shot by communicating to your teammates that you are going to receive and pass the ball. A simple “I’ve got it!” should suffice.
- Hand-eye coordination – To effectively pass the ball, hold out your arms in front of you with elbows close and hands clasped. Instead of swinging your arms up to meet the ball, allow it to fall toward you. As it passes down in front of your eyeline, press your thumbs together, point them forward, and then use the back of your thumbs and wrists to pop the ball back up.
The faster you get into formation behind a served ball, the more time you have to determine where and to whom you’re going to pass it to. You can adjust your passing technique by practicing against a wall or with another teammate.
Enhance Your Bumping Skills
Bumping allows you to meet the ball with a measured bounce that calmly sends it up high — giving a teammate enough time to set up for a skillful return or spike. When bumping, you’ll need to hold out your arms and cup your hands the same way as when you’re passing the ball, except you’ll want to hit the ball with the inside part of your forearm. At first, the impact can sting a little, but using your forearms allows for a steadier surface with which to bump the ball to a teammate. Bumping can be practiced anywhere with a teammate to strengthen and toughen your forearms.
Sharpen Your Setting Skills
Similar to the purpose of a bump pass, setting the ball allows you to assist another player in successfully spiking the ball. To set the ball effectively, get under the ball as it comes down over the net or as it is passed to you from a teammate. Then, raise your arms above your head with elbows bent, hands open, and fingers outstretched in a nearly touching triangle or diamond shape. As the ball descends, bounce it back up with your fingertips, but do not touch the ball with your palms. An effective set requires only the fingertips of the thumbs, index, and middle fingers to achieve proper lift, as well as clear communication to your teammates and the player who will return the set ball.
Practice Your Blocking Skills
Blocking a ball from the opposition takes keen observation, anticipation, and timing. Possessing a nice vertical leap also helps tremendously.
When attempting a block, you must first identify the hitters and track their movement before and after each serve. Instead of tracking the path of the ball, keep your eyes on the front line of opposing strikers. If the competing athletes are positioning themselves to set up a spike, then put yourself in a position to block them. To improve your chance of blocking a strike from the opposing team, try some practice drills with your teammates where they take turns setting and spiking the ball to you over the net. After a while, your reaction timing will become more astute and you will become a more comfortable blocker. Furthermore, you’ll shed the fear of jumping up into the path of an oncoming spiked volleyball. You can also enhance the power and height of your leap by doing box jumps.
Improve Your Spiking Skills
The spike is the most dominant move in competitive volleyball. Mastery of the spike is challenging; however, it is the ultimate achievement toward becoming a fierce volleyballer. Spiking the ball is a technique wherein a player advances toward the net and leaps high enough to forcefully drive down a set ball over the net to gain a guaranteed point. A successfully spiked ball is one which cannot be returned by the other team. The move requires an extreme amount of timing and power. Jump too soon, and the ball isn’t high enough; jump too late, and it’s dropped too low to clear the net.
To learn how to spike the ball, you must practice a vertical leap that can elevate your arm over the top of the net without getting tangled in it. While in that position, you must also practice hitting downward on the top of the ball with the middle of your hand while in mid-air. Spiking is a tricky combination of all of the above skills, and a mentally- and physically-focused athlete is the only one that can perform it.
Boost Your Confidence
Game time confidence and mental acuity can be achieved in several ways. Whether it’s a great workout, a perfected technique, or even a custom volleyball jersey, a player’s morale and confidence level can elevate their performance on the court. If you still need an additional boost to your volleyball game after practicing and implementing the above skills, then perhaps it’s time to switch up your game time attire and consider an investment in the game-changing custom volleyball jerseys at Imperial Point. Start your custom design online now.