Five Ways To Become A Good Volleyball Spiker
by April Chapple
Let's be honest, girls spiking is pretty much what everybody lives for when playing, watching or practicing volleyball.
Spiking it hard, spiking it high and spiking it on or inside the ten foot line so the volleyball bounces back up high enough to hit the rafters on the ceiling..THAT is the dream, right?
Well whether you can hit the ball so it hits the ceiling or not, read the tips below to find out ways to score points by improving your hitting skill.
Exploit the holes in the block.
You have to be fearless when hitting a volleyball against the opponent's double block if you want to become a celebrity spiker.
As a hitter you have to adopt an attitude where you believe you have the advantage over any blocker in front of you. You have to adopt the mindset that "no one, I mean no one is going to stop you from putting the ball on the floor" and if they do it was due MORE to something that you can change, tweak or correct with your hitting technique than what they DID with their block.
When Vegas high school volleyball players get blocked a lot, they tend to "glorify" the block thinking "Oh this is an amazingly BIG and effective block" without realizing that more often than not it was something that they could change or correct with their hitting technique.
Whether it was your volleyball spike approach timing or your inability to see the court as a hitter you have A LOT of options when it comes to beating the block....you just need to know what they are.
One of the ways is to look for holes in the block between the middle blocker and the outside blocker who is blocking you.
This space is also called "the seam" of the block, and you shouldn't be afraid to aim your spike right between the two blockers...especially if you see the outside blocker is late.
Blockers that don't jump together meaning one going up while the other is going down is a great example of when you can aim for the hole in the block. If you are hitting a shoot set which is a faster paced medium height ball that is set to the outsides, then this is a very good option because the middle blockers are often late getting to the outside so aim for the hole that's created between the two blockers.
Use the block
"The bigger they are the harder they fall".
No wait, its "the madder they get when they can't block you because you keep wiping the ball off of that 6' 5" giants outside hands".
One of the most successful ways to be a celebrity spiker is to learn to "wipe the block", aka "use the block", or "use the blockers hands".
You can practice this with a coach who stands on a table with a flat wooden board held with two hands a couple inches above the volleyball net on one side and you (and maybe some teammates on defense on the other side).
You purposefully practice hitting that board - Hit like you are going to hit down the line and you will aim straight ahead-but your "spike follow-through" will finish with your spiking arm coming down across your body so your right arm will finish at your right hip (or your left arm will finish at your left hip depending on what you spike with) so when the ball comes back it comes back either straight down or over your left shoulder to the outside of the volleyball court.
Don't twist your body just your arms should do the work. Hardly any defense in the world can defend that ball.
You can also do this with a ball against your garage. Don't jump, just practice your arm swing hitting the ball into a chalked out square (you can use chalk) to a spot about three four feet above your forehead. Just aim and hit standing about 4 feet away from the spot. Your goal is for the ball to bounce back to the left side outside of your body.
Mix Up Your Shots
Believe it or not outside hitters look smarter when they don't spike all the time. You want to play smart on the court so that the opposing team will respect you. When you mix up your shots, your opponents don't know what you are going to do next and you become unpredictable which is not only really cool but it makes it easier for you to score points.
In my other articles I talk about how you should keep track of what is going on on the court and how points are being scored...well that same advice works here.
When you are front row and your team has made several points hitting the "whatever" out of the ball, look to see how far back the defense is when your other teammates are hitting or better yet, ask your back row players to tell you how far back is the defense when they are dug in.
This information can give you a clue as to "when" to tip and "where" to tip. Make your back row help you become a celebrity spiker by asking them "what's open?" They aren't there just to dig.
Use the information they give you to your advantage.
Roll shots are often great right to the middle of the court. If you are playing in a game where there are a lot of long rallies mix up the rhythm and throw in an off speed shot to the middle of the court...this will keep the defense guessing.
Hit to the Deep Corners of the Court
Three of my Italian teammates from three different teams, Jana Jurosova from Yugoslavia, Elaina Oden 2-time Olympian and Paula Weishoff 3-time Olympian both from the US would do this all the time and make it look so easy especially during long rallies when everyone else would be hitting hard but still getting dug by the opposite team.
They would always remember that as the rallies would get longer the defense on the opposing team would creep up shorter and shorter in the court towards the ten foot line. It's just habit...people are cranking as hard as they can which is usually around the 13, 14 foot line which would mean the defense would have to come up in the volleyball court to dig those balls always leaving the right back and left back deep corners (position 1 and position 5) exposed, open and vulnerable.
Paula, Elaina and Jana were the celebrity spikers who would always remember that and would hit high back to those DEEP corners.
The beauty of hitting deep corners is you don't have to be tall nor do you have to always hit hard to make a deep corner shot effective. No matter what your size.. in volleyball practice learn to "hit high" and long and do a lot of hitting reps so your body and arms learn and memorize what strength it takes for you to get the ball to fall into the deep corners 5,6,7,8 times out of ten. I recommend warming up and playing deep court doubles, triples and 4's before or after practice.
Cross court doubles are great also...have two volleyball players one in 4 and one in 5 (meaning a left side front row and a left side back row) player playing a half court (lengthwise) cross court game against players in the same positions on the other side. Front row can stay in those positions or rotate every few points with the back row player...both players can hit.
Hit the Bad Sets, Tip the Good Ones
Another way of becoming an unpredictable "celebrity spiker" is to learn to tip the good sets and crank the slightly imperfect ones.
You don't have to tip EVERY GOOD set especially if you are one vs. one with a block or have no block but do it enough against a double block to keep your opposing team guessing.
If a setter sets the ball high and inside meaning its supposed to be right on the antenna and instead its just on the other side of your middle blocker you need to haul butt, correct or adjust your approach and HIT the ball. Get inside and hit it!. This is why I talk about learning to watch and really " read and see" what is going on.
After hundreds of reps between you and your setter in practice you should get to a point where you can tell when he/she is in trouble and wont get the ball out to the antenna.
Learn to hit the ugly and tip the beautiful.
Remember the ball is in YOUR hands!