It seems to me that hitting is something that either a girl can do it, no matter what technique is used, or one can’t. I’ve always told my players that a slightly “unorthodox” method is perfectly acceptable as long as the player can repeat it consistently, doesn’t present any injury possibilities and most importantly produces results.

When teaching your rookie campers how to hit a volleyball I suggest you do the following:

First: I would make 100 percent sure they know the 3-step approach and the arm swing. That’s a basic, absolute MUST learn.


Without this, your players will (a) look like a goof to anyone who knows anything about volleyball; (b) make their coaches look like goofs for either not knowing it or not requiring their players to learn it; and/or (c) never reach their spiking potential.

Second: As for the reaching/snapping, that will be taughter directly after the girls master the footwork & arm swing.

I recommend you ditch the bow-and-arrow.

Power of the Short-Toss

Before I write more about hitting a volleyball, do you and/or your assistants know how to “short-toss”? Short-toss is a coach standing at the net, with a ball in his hands.

The spiker does her spike approach, and when she jumps, the coach tosses the ball onto her hand. For the player, it’s like hitting a quick set.

The advantage: It gives the hitter the ability to give complete concentration to her spike approach. It’s great for her to know that the ball will only be hit well if the coach tosses it perfectly onto her hand.

She may swing and miss. Fine. That will be coach’s fault. She is to give her spike approach her complete attention.

Great for Warming Up

Many coaches short-toss as a pre-match warm up drill. I have never done it there but will short-toss any other time, especially at my club team’s practice, when someone just isn’t getting what I’m trying to explain—for example, hitting the line.

So, with short-toss, I can explain it, and my players can try to execute the skill I’m describing without having to think about pounding a volleyball or timing the set. Yes, hitting hard is often cooler than learning a certain hitting skill.

Great for Newbies

Girls who are just learning how to spike are short-tossed over and over and over. Often, I don’t set the rookies ANY high balls. On the first day of a rookie camp, the rookies usually get no high balls set to them; but, they may get 150 short tosses, each one followed by feedback.

At lessons, I will even short-toss the multi-year veterans who may have never worked me, or may have not worked with me for a few months. I want to see what they’re doing. I want to see every little thing. It may irritate them, but these girls come to private lessons to learn and improve, not to practice.

Walk Before You Run

No, my staff will never set high balls to rookies until after their spike approach is mastered. Well, we may throw up some high balls after the rookies have begged and begged; and, then we will watch them fail.

And they will fail because their brain is trying to concentrate on two things that, until mastered, require maximum concentration: a spike approach and timing to the ball.

If neither is mastered, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to concentrate on both. Thus, before a girl should be expected to spike a ball that’s been set, her spike approach must be a 100 percent habit. THEN, and only then, can timing and approach location be addressed.

Stepping It Up

When a girl can do her spike approach without having to think about it—I mean you can set her ball after ball and her spike approach is the same each time—then you can start concentrating on the more technical aspects.

Many coaches think they’re done teaching a spike approach as soon as their players have mastered the 3-step approach with the proper arm swing. Nope! These technical aspects include:

    • Feet and belly-button pointed at 45 degrees (for right handers who are hitting from the middle or from the left side)
    • The “hands together” like on the video
    • The “use it and lose it”
    • The “thumb-thigh” arm swing
    • Learning how to hit line
    • Learning how to disguise a roll shot into the 3-zone
  • Tilting the shoulders

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