In a perfect volleyball world you would be able to move behind every ball and pass it in front of your body. Of course in a perfect world we would also all be over six feet tall and millionaires, which is clearly not the case.
So when passing the volleyball in the real world there are going to be times when you simply aren’t able to get behind the ball, and you need to be prepared for that. But first, a disclaimer: these instructions and drills are not meant to replace good old-fashioned movement. You should still do your utmost to move your feet and get a solid platform behind the ball whenever possible. The techniques in this previous post on ball control and below are for emergency volleyball situations only.
Now that’s out of the way, on to the instruction.
To pass a ball off to the side of your body, you must, I repeat, must drop your inside shoulder to have any hope of passing accurately. By “inside shoulder” I mean the one that is closest to your target area; if you’re passing on the left side of the court this will be your right shoulder, and vice versa on the right side.
By dropping your inside shoulder you’ll be angling your platform toward your setter and still giving the ball a stable area to bounce off. If you just try to swing your arms up to the side without dropping your shoulder the only thing the ball can do — especially if it’s a hard-driven ball — is to ricochet backwards or at best up toward the ceiling.
This technique is the same for both serve receive and defense, and getting into the habit of doing it correctly will greatly increase your passing accuracy.
So how do you master this important passing technique? Here’s a drill to get you started:
Drill: Digging to the side
Start about 20 feet from a partner with one volleyball. Your partner is the hitter, and you are the passer. Your partner should toss the ball up and hit it to one side of your body.
Since the goal is to focus on your side-to-side passing technique, the ball should be hit hard enough that you don’t have time to move behind it. Your partner should hit it off to one side, forcing you to drop your inside shoulder to dig it back up to him/her.
Ideally your dig will be right on target, allowing your partner to hit it back to you, this time on the other side of your body. Keep going until you’ve dug 10 balls on each side of your body, and then switch so that you hit at your partner.
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