The keys to improve your personal skills is to do the fundamental skills the right way. Keep them in your mind at all times when you are practicing. Make sure you are doing it right, especially when you missed a ball, ask yourself what you just did wrong and then try to improve yourself by correcting your errors. Most of the mediocre players always think that they are good since they know everything, maybe they do, but they never really “execute” what they may know on the courts, hence they will always be mediocre.
Most of the players pay less attention to defense. I am here to tell you, defense is one of the the keys to win the volleyball game. Great defense can always ruin a great offense team’s day. It’s very important to have a team strategy for defense and adjust as the game goes on. Now here are some tips. Always stay low on defense or passing. Why stay low? When trying to dig a ball, the key is to move to where you can dig the ball before it touches the ground.
Imagine… you are in the left back position, and an outside attack is coming from the outside position on the other side of the net. There are two blockers jumping from your side, and you are just outside of them, at an angle where you can see the ball being attacked. The ball is hit near you, and you need to get it. You want to know what path will give you the best chances of getting the ball up. First of all, you take the shortest path, go straight there. Second, stay as low as you can while still moving quickly. Why? The lower you stay, the longer it takes for the ball to reach you. This way you will have more time to adjust your position before the ball reaches you. Also, if you are trying to intercept a ball, you will have more time to adjust if you contact the ball lower (closer to the ground).
Moving: Keeping your legs moving is a big part of volleyball games. Many may think that with a 30 feet by 30 feet box, how far do you have to move? Actually, moving often is the key to a great defense. Moving skills include slide steps to the sides, cross steps to the sides, big side steps, and running forward and running backward. These steps training usually includes in the warmup procedures, however, it is important for volleyball players to practice and master these moving skills.
Serving: Two important keys to a successful serve are balance and good toss. Keep yourself in a good balance when serving. In fact when you are doing anything in playing volleyball, balance is very important. Try not to jump or hop when you serve. Give yourself one step forward, that is enough for a good serve regardless serving upper-hand or lower-hand. If you are serving upper-hand, the toss has to be in front of your hitting hand and with enough height. Keep the tossed ball half a step in front of you, so you can step out and hit the ball. Never put the ball above your shoulder, you may injure yourself when doing so. If you are serving lower-hand, keep the ball low by bending your knees, and hit the ball up while standing upward using both your body and your arm to get the ball high and forward.
Passing: Passing is the soul of the game of volleyball. Good passing makes volleyball interesting and exciting. The key to a good passing is fast move to the position of the ball which give yourself time to balance yourself and prepare for the pass. When passing, always remember to face the ball, keep the ball within your shoulders and in front of your lap and stay as low as possible. Imagine catching the ball with your arms relax in between your laps while bending your knees with one foot in front and the other in back rather than in parallel. At the moment of contact, firm and spread your arms while both hands grab together with your thumbs push down. Pushing your thumbs downward helps your arms tough up so that you can bounce the ball higher. Use your body as one object, not just using your arms to hit the ball. Use your legs to bounce the ball by standing up or lower yourself as adjustment when receiving the ball. Wait for the ball to come to you instead of hitting the ball with your arms. Remember, use your body as one object to receive the ball.
Blocking: Blocking skills can be categorized into two parts: personal blocking and team blocking which maybe a group of two or three players. For now, we are just going to introduce personal blocking in this article. First thing to remember is NEVER touch the net. Besides jumping as high as you can when blocking, you also need to reach out and over the net. If the ball is close to the net, round up the ball with your hands to cover the possible angles. If the ball is not close to the net, then all you need is to reach out and over the net to cover the blocking area. Reading your opponents during the games can improve your skills in blocking. If you can read your opponents correctly, you will have great success when blocking the opponents.
Setting: Setting is always a tough skill to master for most players. Being a setter, you have to move fast, fast enough to give yourself time to prepare for a good set and look over your opponents at the same time. Keeping the ball in the front of your forehead is the key to success. Keep the ball low and as close to your face as possible. Try not to make contact with the ball too high up. Keeping the ball low give yourself more time to handle the ball for a better set. At the moment of contact, keep your fingers soft with your thumbs apart from other fingers, push the ball out by fully extending your arms until the ball leaves your hands automatically. Stand close to the net and try to keep your shoulder perpendicular to the net, set the ball out parallel to the net and try not to create an angle between the ball and the net. If the pass is far off the net that you have to adjust the set, always face the pole to set forward or with your back facing the pole for the sets behind and adjust the ball to set close to the net.
Hitting: Hitting is the most exciting action that players like to do when they started playing volleyball. Most people enjoy hard hitting style volleyball. Neverthless, the key to success on hitting is not power, it is approach and jump. Approach, if you are a right hander, you should finish with a right-left foot step. If you are a left hander, you should finish with a left-right foot step. You can take a 3-step or a 4-step approach, it’s up to you. The jump in volleyball is vertical. The approach is to help you gain more height on your vertical jump. Don’t try to put strength on your shoulder in order to hit harder, you might injure yourself. Simply swing your arm to a reach-out, straight position when making contact with the ball. Remember, hard hitting is a point, soft tipping is also a point. Play smart.
Defense: We introduce two simple types of defense here. “Back defense”: 2 blockers. The rest form a perimeter with the middle open. Back row players behind blockers must move up to cover the tip. Middle back row player cover the long ball. If you are playing co-ed and most of the time you have only one blocker. Then you try to leave the straight or cross open for your defense players behind you. The best you can do is to make sure the ball does not go through your arms of your blocking. In this case, you leave your team with defense strategy that they know what to do. There will be people covering straight and cross, leaving the middle open for tipping which is also covered by the front row players at both sides. The other type of defense is “Middle hitter defense”: Front left and right hitters set back off net and open up for tipped ball. Back row 3 players form arch for the dig. This is sort of the same way like what we mentioned above, only the attack happened in the middle of the net. So the formation is adjusted for the change, but everyone’s duty in that position is still the same. Remember, always stay low, stay calm, take your time digging the ball. Do not rush!