April 17, 2012

Volleyball Armswing and Technique

Hey Coach, 

I have a few questions on my arm swing, approach, and timing for the hit. Whenever I swing at the ball, I can never seem to hit it as hard as I think I can, and I have a hard time with timing the set. 

I play on a highschool team, but I dont get a lot of playing time. Is there any thing I can do for my arm swing that will teach me to hit it high? Because most of the time I hit the ball with my arm bent, not straight and fully extended. 

And do you have any tips on how to pull my arm back when I'm going up for the hit? And what can i do to help my timing as the ball is set? BTW, I play outside and sometimes do a little bit of opposite. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this, T.M.

Glad to help and I provide a number of training tips in my Inside College Volleyball book!

For Armswing, do the wall hitting drill.  So much of hitting hard is making consistent contact with your hand upon the ball.  Stand about 7-10 feet from a brick/hard wall, hit the ball into the ground, so it bounces up into the wall, then rebounds off the wall and up high enough for you to immediately attack it back down again. The goal is to be able to continuously hit the ball down and off the wall, and it sounds easier than it is. 

Back in the day, this was how hitters warmed up their arms and practiced their armswing's.  When you do this drill, it is easier to 'pre-load' arms (off arm up and forward, attack arm up and back), to keep the ball bouncing continuously.

While you don't want your arm bent when attacking, I don't know if fully straight is optimum.  I usually see just a hint of bending in the arm upon attack, which I think gives a little more control and opportunity to change attack angle at the last minute.  Again, the wall attack drill will help with this.

When you say 'pull back your arm to hit', this is called loading your attack.  The motion is the same as if you were playing catch with a baseball.  When you play catch with proper technique, your off arm moves forward and up, along with your left foot stepping forward, while your right arm/elbow lifts up and back behind your head.  The pre-throw/attack position looks a little like those Greco-Roman statues of spear throwers.  Then, the throw/attack motion is just pulling your off arm down into your body, rotating your hips and throwing the ball.  

For your approach, after you know you have the correct footwork (if you are right handed, your left foot should be your last step and should be in front of your right foot), I suggest the high bounce drill.  Use a partner or the wall (if using a wall, be a good 30 feet from it).  Toss the ball super, super and I mean super high, into the air and so it lands about about 10 feet in front of you.  As the ball bounces up off the ground, slowly start your approach, and time it so you can jump and attack the ball as it nears its apex.  

This is a tough drill to do, and took my collegiate players a bit to get it, even though I swiped it from a 12 year olds practice I saw down Brazil!  As simple as this drill may seem, it forces you to hit the ball with timing.

A challenge with our great sport is the ability to practice skills individually.  These two drill suggestions allow for quality repetitions and you don't need a partner, much less a net.

Good luck!

Coach Sonnichsen

1 comment:

  1. I personally loathe the repetitive hitting against a wall - especially from short distance, and even more for young players trying to learn. It can create really poor technique because of the low angle the ball often comes back at leading to low contact points. Better to stop and self-toss each time.

    I also think standing further back (like 25-30 feet) and working on deep hits bouncing the ball a couple feet from the wall with lots of topspin rather than straight-down ones is much better for training purposes. Much better for realistic training.

    A good way to work on power is to tie a knot in a towel, hold the other end in your hitting hand, and do the armswing close to the wall so you are striking it with the knot. It's all about generating speed. This is good for helping out with weak serves too.


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