Volleyball hitting consists of spiking a set ball, usually coming from the setter. The volleyball approach and spike includes the approach, jump, arm-swing, hand contact, and landing.
All front line attackers should be working to spike the ball hard.
Spiking is one of the most difficult skills to learn because to be a great spiker, you need to be coordinated and have good body control. To be good at approaching the ball, jumping, and then hitting the ball in the air takes a lot of practice.
The approach is the steps that lead up to the jump. Where the spiker starts the approach will depend on the what set the setter plans to deliver and you also have to factor in the situation. Generally, most spikers will start the approach near the 3 meter line. If the set goes tighter to the net, the spiker will need to adjust the steps and take off closer to the net.
If the set is further off the net than expected, the spiker needs to adjust the approach and the take off position.
The angle of the approach will vary. For a right-handed spiker that's approaching from the outside hitter position, this approach is usually about a 45 degree angle.
A right-handed middle hitter would approach middle at about 60 degrees.
A right-handed right side hitter would approach the right side at about 90 degrees.
How to figure out what angle you approach...
Ask the question... Is the ball coming across the non-hitting shoulder?
If it is, then you should approach directly toward the net (90 degree angle).
If the ball is coming from the same side hitting shoulder, then you want the body "open" to the ball (45 or 60 degree angle).
The Final Two Steps are the Most Important
Finish the steps right-left if you are right-handed.
Finish the steps left-right if you are left-handed.
Tips to improving your jump for spiking...
For the bow and arrow technique, the arms aren't brought up as high. The spiking hand ends up rotating the elbow high. The bow and arrow can allow a much quicker wrist snapping action on the ball. The disadvantage is that you won't likely maximize your jump height if do the bow position.
Both of these arm swings have a purpose. The higher position has more power and will help you reach your maximum reach. The bow technique will basically help you use a faster arm swing.
When spiking the ball, focus on contacting the ball above the head (or slightly out in front) not outside the line of the body. Focus on contacting the top of the ball as you wrap the hand over the top. This will help you create topspin on the ball which will help make the ball travel downward into the court. Many coaches teach to "snap the wrist". I have more success when I tell my players to "claw" the ball. You want this claw position as you make contact. Which ever you do, in order to create topspin, you must finish with the fingers pointed downward. When you first learn how to contact the ball for spiking, take a peek at your hand position after contacting the ball. Emphasize freezing this finish position to get in the habit of creating topspin.
It's also important to emphasize a "vertical arm" when spiking. Think of reaching through the ball as you swing. Any work done to increase your vertical jump is wasted if you aren't contacting the ball with a vertical arm. Often spikers can improve their contacting point by a couple inches by simply increasing the height of the contact point.
After spiking the ball, always land on two feet when possible. Land with the knees slightly flex and the feet about shoulder width apart. You also need to be aware of where you are when you land. If you are jumping near the net, be aware of the position of teammates and the opposing blocker because you don't want to land on them rolling an ankle. Ouch!
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