Attacking a volleyball, if executed correctly, is one of the most spectacular skills in sports. Unfortunately for those of us who aren’t Megan Hodge or Destiny Hooker, the volleyball attack is also one of the most complicated skills to learn. But never fear! With some perseverance and repetition you too can be a force to be reckoned with at the net.
To get you started, here’s a drill using just a volleyball net and a tennis ball. It’s helpful to have partner around so you don’t spend all your time chasing a tiny yellow ball around the gym, but it’s not crucial.
This drill is great for when you have your basic approach down but need to work on a quick arm swing and wrist snap to really put the ball down into the court (instead of putting dents in the back wall of the gym).
Start with the tennis ball in your attacking hand, and position yourself at the appropriate spot for the type of hit you want to practice. For example, if you want to work on an outside (left-side) attack, you’d start a step or two outside the court boundary and a step or two behind the 10-foot (3-meter) line on the left side of the court. Judge the distance based on your stride lengths; a longer approach will give you more power, but don’t overdo it or you end up in the net.
Execute your approach (four, three or two steps, whichever you typically use) and jump as high as you can. At the height of your jump, which is when you should normally be hitting the volleyball, throw the tennis ball down and over the net. Concentrate on your arm swing; you should keep your arm moving after the tennis ball has left your hand just like you would follow through with a hit. Think about “quarters in your hand” — if someone was standing right behind you, they should be able to put some quarters into your hitting hand the moment you land.
This means that you need to follow through with your swing and snap your wrist down and through the ball.
Practice throwing the tennis ball to the various points on the court that you want to hit with your attack. Middle hitters should practice cutting to both the left and right sides of the court; outside/right side hitters should practice line and angle shots. Once you’re comfortable with that you can add a blocker and work on throwing the tennis ball around his/her hands.
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