Five Volleyball Passing Tips
by April Chapple
In high school volleyball the ability to serve receive or to "pass" the ball from an opponent's serve is one of the most important volleyball skills to learn in order to play competitive indoor or sand volleyball games and tournaments.
You will quickly learn that what you do with your feet and lower body determines how well you will perform all volleyball fundamentals, skills and drills. That's why I always start my coaching instructions and volleyball tips focusing on the correct positioning of the feet and lower body.
Your feet should be shoulder width apart in a comfortable balanced position with knees bent so that you are in a slight squat. Your feet should be slightly staggered so that your right foot is two-three inches in front of your left foot and you can move quickly in any direction.
Your feet initiate the first movement you make by getting you in position behind the ball you want to pass. You will find that getting your body completely behind the ball you want to pass is the most important part of passing the ball. Anticipate where you need to be and getting your body behind the ball EARLY will make the rest of the serve receive process a lot easier.
Your upper body is in a slightly crouched position in a position that permits you to move quickly in any direction in order to get behind the ball quickly. Once in passing position - BEFORE making contact with the ball your shoulders need to be squared up to the target. Your shoulders face the target and will guide the ball where you want it to go. Remember shoulders should be squared up to the target BEFORE you contact the ball. Arms Keep your arms apart as you move to get your body in position behind the ball to pass it. Your arms should be in the same position as when you run.
Once you stop, because you have determined where you need to be in order to serve receive - your right hand should form a fist which you place in the palm of your left hand. Your left hand should close around your right fist. Place both thumbs together- side by side and point them downward towards the ground.
Pointing your thumbs to the ground will create the serve receive platform you use in order to make the pass. You must contact the ball on this platform created by your forearms between the wrist and inside elbow. With practice and repetition you will learn to control the ball consistently on your platform. Many times a lot of people mistakenly contact the ball BELOW their wrists - on their fists and thumbs. You will never be able to control the ball consistently if you contact the ball below the wrists.
Remember that serve receive means that you are receiving the serve. Most serves come at a speed fast enough that when you receive the ball very little additional arm movement is needed in order to get the ball to your target (your target is usually your setter).
So your serve receive platform should never finish above your shoulders since you don't need to swing your arms. When contacting the ball remember your shoulders are already squared up to your target so you just shift your body weight stepping from your back (left) foot to your front (right) foot -keeping your platform still and just using it to guide the ball to your target.
This is why expert volleyball coaches say you actually serve receive with your legs. Your shoulders and platform are there JUST to guide the ball to the target only.
Serve Receive Quick Review
1. Feet shoulder width apart with right leg slightly in front of the left. Shoulders and upper body in slight crouch ready to move in any direction quickly.
2. Anticipate where you need to be and get there BEFORE you start to pass the ball keeping arms and hands apart.
3. Get stopped with right foot slightly in front of the left.
4. Present your platform by wrapping your left hand around your right fist with thumbs pointing straight down to the ground which forces elbows and arms to from a super straight platform.
5. When contacting the ball don't swing your arms to serve receive - keep your platform below your shoulders and thumbs pointing to the ground - always.
Use YOUR LEGS to get the ball to the target by shifting your body weight from your back (left) foot to your front (right) foot.
6. Shoulders should already be squared to the net before you contact the ball so you don't have anymore adjusting to do with your arms once you contact the ball.
7. Keep your eyes on the ball.
Visually track it as it leaves the servers hand all the way to your platform. By focusing on the ball you can tell if you need to make minor adjustments in the angle of your platform in order to get the ball to your target.
8. Have fun playing volleyball in your next indoor volleyball tournament!
April Chapple, editor/creator of The Volleyball Voice.com and the Las Vegas Volleybll Voice $5 Boot Camp Class and Clinic is the author of the e-books " 86 Girls Indoor Volleyball Tips: How To Gain Confidence On the Volleyball Court" and "How To Stop Serving Like A Wimp".