Player Tips

Read these 128 Player Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Volleyball tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How can I become a better digger?

It's A Net, Not A Wall

One of my favorite coaching phrases is, "It's a net, not a wall. You can SEE through it, use it to your advantage."

Sounds simple, but far too many players wait until the ball has crossed the plane on the net before beginning to react. If you look through the net and watch the play develop, you'll have far more time to react.

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What are some tips for center back position?

Dive

The most important thing you'll need to learn to be a great center back is to become absolutely fearless. You'll have to sacrifice your body in a hundred different ways, trying with everything you have to save anything you have the remotest chance of saving.

Remember the adage: make the play first, then decide if it was impossible.

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How can I block better?

Go After Everything Above the Net

Whenever there's a ball on top of the net, I want at least one of our players there to pound at it. Taking charge of the net is similar to taking charge of the backboard in basketball. You control the net, you control the game, and you do that through sheer, constant aggression.

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How can I block better?

Effective Blocking, Part 4

If at all possible, you'll want to watch your opponents hit during warm ups.

For instance, if a player never hits line in warm ups, chances are, they're not going to try it in the game. You can then concentrate on taking away the angle shot, since that's the one they'll use most.

Watch what they do when the ball is close to the net. Do they tip every time, or do they hit away or try to wipe?

Do they ever use off-speed or tips, or are they just bangers, hitting angle and damn the consequences?

Every hitter has a favorite shot. Learn it, and then take it away from them. Only then will you be able to see what that player is really made of.

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How can I serve better floaters?

Float Serving Basics, Part 2

The floater, though not glamorous, is an effective serving weapon, since it can dip, rise, and move in every direction as it crosses the net.

The key is not to follow through with your hand. Contact the serve and immediately draw your hand back, so the ball moves into the air without spin.

It'll take practice, but the floater is definitely worth having in your arsenal of serves.

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How can I pass better?

The Feet Are Critical

Ironically, moving the feet is the most important part of the art of passing.

You have to move to the exact place where you can take the ball between your knees, about zipper height in order to make a good pass.

Bend your knees slightly, keeping your eyes on the ball until it actually contacts your arms.

Point one foot toward your target, and follow through by lifting up with your knees.

The feet and legs are vitally important to making you a great passer. Move your feet, then worry about the rest of your routine!

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How can I become a better digger?

Essentials of Passing

Take pride in your passing. It's very important, and absolutely critical for a successful offense.

If you don't think it's true, think about these ideas:

How well could a baseball team play if the pitcher was forced to pitch from second base?

How successful would a football team be if the quarterback had to start every play by standing back an extra 20 yards?

Both of those situations are comparable to what bad passing does to a setter's chances of running an efficient offense. So do your best on every single pass, and you'll see your team's success rate increase.

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How can I pass better?

When You're In Trouble

If you're passing in an emergency situation, remember this adage: the more trouble you're in, the higher the ball needs to go into the air.

Putting the ball high allows the next player time to help you by getting into position to get the ball back under control.

So pop it high when you're in trouble!

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How can I be a better middle blocker?

Middle Blockers, Smother The Ball

To be an effective CF (Center Front), you must love to work hard and be involved in every play. You're like the shot blocker in basketball. You have to dominate the net, and make it your own, make opposing hitters think about what they're doing, change their shots, throw off their game.

Here's a tip to become a tough CF:

Try to smother the ball. Get your hands completely around the ball, and push it down. Make it impossible for the ball to go anywhere but straight back down.

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How can I serve a better floater?

Serving the Floater, Part 2

In an era when jump serving is all the rage, why would anyone bother to serve the floater anymore?

Here's a 2nd reason:

The floater is a beautifully effective short serve. The jump server usually is happy just to get the ball in the court somewhere, but if you serve the floater, you can just barely put it over the net, in front of the 10-foot line. That's the most difficult pass to make, and you'll often be serving front-row people who aren't accustomed to passing very often.

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How can I pass better?

The Phantom Hand

When a ball has gone by you, the worst thing you can do is to reach back and try to retrieve it. We call that move "the phantom hand." A teammate has a bead on the ball and is just getting ready to pass it, when this phantom hand reaches in from nowhere, and the ball disappears, generally at some strange angle.

So trust your teammates to be in position to back you up ... and don't reach back. Don't let the phantom hand haunt YOUR team.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Help Each Other Out

Help Each Other Out

You're still teammates, even when things go wrong:

When someone makes an on-count mistake the natural tendency is to shun and isolate them. This just makes them an easier target - its better to take a step toward them and help them out. Always remember: if they get beat, you get beat.

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What are some tips for outside hitters?

Waiting To Kill

Waiting to Kill

Hyo-sen offers this formula for outside hitters:

On outside attacks, don't go half speed and meet the ball at the net. Wait a second longer and then EXPLODE to the ball. The consequence is more energy which means a higher jump and harder hit.

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How can I serve more aces?

Serving More Aces, Part 6

Another way to score more aces is to be on the look out for a player who looks overly frustrated, upset, tired or injured. Any of those signs should be a flag for your serve. That player isn't in the game as much as they should, so hit them and see if they can pull it together.

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How can I block better?

Effective Blocking, Part 2

After watching the pass, turn your attention to the setter, trying to pick up clues to where the set is likely to go.

If the ball is far in from of the setter, the set will usually go forward. If they try to move to a place where they can get the ball closer to the center of the head, it will likely be a back set.

Some setters have a tendency to use a jump set when setting middle.

Watch the setter throughout the game, and you'll find you can often pick up valuable clues as to where the ball is going, even before the set is made.

Setters are human, and get into rhythms and certain body positions when they're setting. Watch and learn your opponent's body language. You can use that knowledge to your advantage.

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What are some tips for center back position?

Be the Air Traffic Controller

In center back, you have the best view of what's going on, so you owe it to your teammates to become the air traffic controller.

You can see the plays develop, you can see if balls are in or out, you can see touches, you've got the best view in the house. So share all that information with your teammates, and everyone will benefit.

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How can I be a better middle blocker?

Middle Blockers, Reading Setters

Middle blockers rule the net. They need to be warriors, constantly in motion, relentlessly aggressive on offense and defense.

Here's a tip for playing tough CF:

When blocking the quick set, look where the setter is. Is she too far back to set it effectively? If so, wait, and expect a regular set, or something outside.

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How can I serve more aces?

Serving More Aces, Part 4

Another player who should get a serve right away is a player who just enters the game. That player hasn't had time to get into the flow of the game, isn't quite warmed up, and is going to have the adreneline flowing and liable to be a little nervous and slightly uptight. Hit them while all that is in your favor. Even if they're a good passer, they'll often miss one or two at the very beginning of their rotation.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Reading Hitters, Part 7

Once you've made all your mental calculations about the flight of the ball, you'll need to shift your attention to the hitter. Watch the hitter's approach, where they begin, and the way they move toward the ball.

If a set is high outside, and the hitter must come at the ball from outside the sideline, the ball MUST be hit angle, since that's the only way the ball can legally cross the net between the antennas. The farther out the hitter must go, the sharper the angle of the hit must be.

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How can I become a better spiker?

Snap Your Wrist

Remember: the snap of the wrist at the end of your spike is the most important part of the hitting motion. Snapping your wrist will make it much less likely for your hit to sail out the back, because it puts a downward spin on the ball, causing it to curve toward the floor.

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How can I learn to serve a jump serve?

The Jump Serve, Part 1

The jump serve can be a devastating weapon, but it must be executed properly.

Step One in learning the jump serve involves where you stand to begin. You have to give yourself enough room to make what boils down to a spiking approach, which generally means you'll need to start far enough back to allow you to take two fairly large steps.

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What are some qualities to look for in players?

Stay Back!

If your team plays a center back defense, it's important for you to condition yourself to stay back. It's so easy to keep creeping forward as the volley progresses, but you have to force yourself to play back, guarding against the long tip and ready to pick up a carrom off a block. You can't do that if you're 10' from the back line, so stay back, and when you look around and notice you've shifted forward, hustle back quickly and stay alert.

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What is some advice on tipping?

Dump to #1

Dump to #1

Setters and hitters can learn something from our tip on tipping:

When dumping the ball into your opponents court, consider dumping deep into position #1 (right back). It will cause the opposing setter problems, since they'll they have to turn to see their teammate's pass.

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What are some tips for center back position?

A Mind Set

A way to train your mind to help you stay back is to begin thinking of yourself as the team's center fielder. You're the farthest one from the action, but you have the best view, and if things go wrong, you're the last line of defense to avert a disaster.

Be ready, talk alot, become fearless, stay back and play center field.

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How can I become a better digger?

The 3 R's of Digging

Whenever you're playing defense, it's wise to remember these 3 "R's:"

Ready, Read, and React.

Get down, be ready for anything. Read the set, the hitter's body language, approach and armswing. Then react, based on what you've learned from the information you've gathered.

Ready, Read, and React.

Practice your "3 R's" and become a great defensive player.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Work the Angles

Since you know that 90% of players (except at the higher levels of play) will hit angle, you can use that to your advantage. Get to the angle, and start there. If you have to make a move one way or another, the move won't be as great if you're already in the general vicinity.

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How can I learn to serve a jump serve?

The Jump Serve, Part 4

Part Four of the jump serve involves your approach. Once you've mastered the toss, which isn't easy, and takes a great deal of practice, you'll need to work on your approach.

If you've not a strong spiker, you probably don't have a great approach, and you'll need to work on that, because the approach is the same, only the location is different.

Work on your approach, normally two steps, a strong landing, big lift-off and powerful swing, before you begin your jump serving attempt.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

When NOT to Dive

When NOT to Dive

It's not always a good idea to dive after balls. Here's why:

Don't dive after a ball that has already hit the floor. Some players do this for "show," but all it "shows" is a) you were too slow to get to the ball, and b)you're too slow to realize it.

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How can I block better?

Don't Block the Setter

Don't block the setter. It sounds obvious, but how many times do you see a 5' 3" setter at the net, getting ready to set, and the 6'2" blocker on the other side goes up to block?

You gain nothing, and lose at least a step in getting outside to help block if you go up with the setter. Stay down and concentrate on the blasters, instead.

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Do you have a good setter defense drill?

Play Defense First

Setters need to remember: you're a defensive player first, a setter second. It's so easy to keep cheating up toward the setting area and to forget to get into position to play defense. That leaves a hole, and forces your teammates to find ways to fill it. That leaves holes where THEY'RE supposed to be. So stay home, play defense and THEN set.

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How can I become a better digger?

Freeze

Even if you're out of position, freeze at the moment of your opposing hitter's impact of the ball. You'll make far more mistakes by being caught in transition than you ever will if you are set and ready to react.

So freeze first, react second. Don't get caught moving.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Reading Hitters, Part 8

If the ball is set close to the net, it will usually be hit at a sharp angle and downward closer to the net than a standard set.

You'll need to take a step or two forward, covering your blockers, because if they can't stuff the close shot, it will come down close to the 10' line.

There are two other reasons to move up. If your blockers can get hands on it and don't stuff it back, the ball will be coming off at some odd angle, and you'll need to help pop up up. Or the hitter will realize they're going to likely be stuffed and tip just over the block, in which case you'll need to be there to bump it back up softly.

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How should I contact a floater?

Float Serving Basics, Part 3

When serving a floater, hit the ball with the heel of your hand, keeping your hand rigid, which will make the ball less likely to spin when it moves through the air.

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What are some tips for center back position?

Know Where You're At

One of the most important things to remember in center back is where you're at ... at all times. It becomes even more important when the ball is going to be close at the end line. If you're in the proper position, it will eventually become instinctual, but it takes time. Condition yourself to always know where the endline is, and you'll become a more effective center back.

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How can I pass better?

Becoming a Better Passer, Part 3

Talking about moving the feet as the key to good passing, let's talk about how to get to the ideal spot. First, you need to make your judgement early as to where you'll need to be when the ball comes down. Get there in plenty of time.

And to get you there, take small, short steps, rather than big, lanky ones. It allows you more precision, and helps you get into position more smoothly.

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How can I block better?

Effective Blocking, Part 3

After the set is in the air, you must turn your attention to the hitter's body language. Here's four ideas on reading your attacker:

If the ball is inside the hitter's shoulder, they will usually hit an angle shot.

If the ball passes the midline of the attacker's body, they're usually preparing for a line shot.

If the set is tight to the net, you'll have to release more quickly to get your hands on the ball. The hitter will have to reach closer to the net to hit, and you'll be able to surround the ball if you get there in time.

A set that's off the net will likely be hit cross court, because it's a higher percentage shot for the attacker. Remember to delay your jump a split second longer, though, when the ball is back farther, since it will take a little longer to reach the net.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Reading Hitters, Part 9

A ball set off the net, but high, will usually be hit cross court. On the left side, if the hitter's shoulder is aligned so that the ball is nearer the sideline than the hitter's shoulder, the ball will likely be hit straight or down the line.

A spiker making a late approach will generally hit angle. They're just concerned with salvaging some kind of attack, not with doing anything fancy at that point.

If a spiker runs underneath the ball too far, that ball will usually be hit deep in a looping fashion or something off-speed.

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How can I become a better spiker?

Save the Arm

Save the Arm

This tip is for hitters who want to be in the game for the long haul:

The best hitters in the world have told me you don't pound everything - you get the same points for a tip or wipe, and it saves your arm for those times "when you gotta swing away."

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How can I improve my blocking?

CAR Blocking

To become a great blocker, think "CAR" blocking.

Confidence, Aggressiveness, Relentlessness.

You first have to believe you can do it. Then you have to be aggressive. If you don't go all out, many balls will dribble down in front of you. Finally, you must be relentless. You can never take a play "off." Great blockers will give everything they have to try to get a hand on every ball in their vicinity.

"CAR" blocking can make you a blocking superstar.

   
How can I block better?

Keep Your Eyes Open

One of the biggest mistakes blockers make is to close their eyes at the moment of contact. It's hard not to do, but important to avoid. You need to have your eyes on the ball at all times in order to stuff it, touch it on a tip, or whatever happens. So keep your eyes open.

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How can I block better?

Advanced Blocking Tips

Here's a few tips for becoming a superior blocker:

1- A shorter hitter will often have developed a wider variety of hits, including line shots.

2- The farther back a ball is set from the net, the more likely an outside hitter is to hit angle.

3- Sometimes, if you pay attention, you can "steal" signals from the opposing setter and hitter if you watch.

4- If a player has run too far underneath a ball, it's likely to be an off-speed shot or tip.

5- Every hitter has a favorite spot. If they get lazy, they will hit that spot. Learn their favorite, and take it away from them.

6- If a CF begins edging slightly forward as the play develops, they may be getting ready for a quick set. Their body language can give them away.

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How can I serve more aces?

Serving More Aces, Part 3

If a player has just shanked a serve, they should automatically get the next serve, too ... and the next, and the next, if they don't get one up. There's no room for sympathy here. Make them pass; that's what they're in there for. And if they can't do it, make the opposing coach sub them out. In the meantime, rack up the points for your team.

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How can I become a better digger?

Humming the Ball In

A tip that will help you concentrate while passing: Try "humming the ball in." (Do this silently during game situations, otherwise folks will think you're out of your mind. But you can practice it aloud until it becomes a habit.)

Since it's important to watch the ball until it actually comes into contact with your arms, try humming until that contact occurs, and then, at the moment of impact, give a little grunt, "Huuh!"

It sounds crazy, and that's why we don't recommend you do it aloud in public, but it's a very effective way of making sure your concentration is total when getting ready to pass.

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What are some tips for center back position?

Call All Balls

Since you can see everything, it's important for you to call all balls for your teammates, who are often busy with the heat of the action. So even if it's going to be "in" by several feet, go ahead and call it. Making a call on every ball lets your teammates know they can count on you.

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How can I become a better digger?

Heels Up

Heels Up

Since many diggers tend to get rocked back on their heels as a heavy hitter goes up to pound, we offer this good advice:

A huge power wastage on the volleyball court is putting your heels to the floor. But to be a great digger, you need to stay on the balls of your feet as much as possible to allow for quick change of direction and adaptability to the ball and situation.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Reading Hitters, Part 2

Reading hitters is critical to becoming a great back row player. Once you've learned as much as you can about your opponent's style and hitting tastes, you're ready to watch the play unfold, always looking for clues.

First, you watch the pass, to see where it's going. Is the ball going straight up from where the passer contacted the ball? Is it headed for center front, where the setter will have more options?

Watch the flight of the ball, and adjust accordingly.

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How can I block better?

Just Say No!

Just Say No!

Anyone can hit hard, but taking away a hard hit is something special:

Blocking should be thought of as a more satisfying than hitting. This is because you have not only asserted your will on your opponent but denied them their objective.

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How can I become a better spiker?

Back Row Spiking

It's exciting to see a player go up and smash the ball from the back row, and many players can't wait to try it themselves. But remember, it's important that the ball go over! Hitting from the back row does no good if you powder the ball into the net.

So, at least when you begin, consider getting under the ball, squaring your shoulders, arching your back and hitting the ball without leaving the floor. You can still put a surprising amount of heat on your hit, and there's less chance of hitting it into the net.

Once you're more proficient, you can take on the task of adding a killer leap to your spiking routine.

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How can I pass better?

When It's OK to Swing Away

Coaches will preach at you not to swing during your pass, and I agree completely ... except on the 3rd hit. If you're in a position where your only option is to put the ball over with a bump, turn sideways and hit it, similar to a baseball player, swinging at a pitch.

This allows you to put at least some heat on your bump, rather than handing your opponent a nice little free ball to ram back down your throat.

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How can I become a better digger?

One-Arm Digs

One-Arm Dig

When you can't get two hands on the ball, hyo-sen offers this tip:

In recovering a badly-passed ball too low for a proper pass, use a "biceps curl" action and contact the call with your fist for maximum lift and control.

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How can I make the ball spin on my serve?

Spin Serve

Spin Serve

A tip for making your serve spin:

By striking the ball slightly off center you can cause it to spin in that direction.

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How can I become a better center blocker?

Middle Blocking, Part 2

Middle blockers rule the net. They need to be warriors, constantly in motion, relentlessly aggressive on offense and defense.

To be an effective CF (Center Front), you must love to work hard and be involved in every play. You're like the shot blocker in basketball. You have to dominate the net, and make it your own, make opposing hitters think about what they're doing, change their shots, throw off their game.

Here's tip two for playing tough CF:

When blocking the quick set, look where the setter is. Is she too far back to set it effectively? If so, wait, and expect a regular set, or something outside.

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How can I become a better setter?

Setting the Back Row, Part 2

The second thing to remember when setting your back row hitters is to do your utmost to set the ball slightlty in front of them whenever possible. This allows them to make an approach and be able to put their entire body into their hit. That will put more heat on their spike, making it harder for the opponents to play.

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How can I pass better?

Helping Each Other With Lines

Line Calls

Players are teammates, and they should help each other, including calling lines:

During serve receive, the person not playing the ball
follows it and tells the passer if it's in or out
according to the angle. The person passing has enough
to worry about without having to peek down at the line.
Even the pros forget this sometimes, to their dismay!

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How can I serve a better floater?

Serving the Floater, Part 4

In an era when jump serving is all the rage, why would anyone bother to serve the floater anymore?

Here's a 4th reason:
Once you've mastered the basic technique, you can experiment with different speeds, which will make your floater even more difficult to receive.

Passers get into a groove as you serve to them more and more, so you constantly need to give them a different type of serve, just like a pitcher tries different pitches to each batter.

Try to mix it up. You'll be more effective.

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What should I do once the ball is contacted by the hitter?

Reading Hitters, Part 11

As the ball is contacted by the hitter, it's time to focus your entire energy and attention on the ball itself. The first thing you'll need to do is FREEZE for an instant, wherever you find yourself. The moment of contact is not the time you want to be trying to get into position.

Stop wherever you find yourself and get ready to make a play. Don't get caught in transition. Now is the time to get aggressive, and make your play, according to the flight of the ball.

Remember, if the ball is close, MAKE A PLAY FIRST, then decide if it was impossible!

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How can I serve a floater?

Float Serving Basics, Part 1

A simple float serving technique that can score you some aces is hitting the ball on the stem. Simply toss the ball so that your hand contacts the serve directly on the stem.

Although you won't be able to have complete control over its action, contacting the stem makes the ball behave erratically in the air. That erratic motion makes it harder for your opponent to pass, thus scoring you more aces.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Reading Hitters, Part 3

As you see the pass go into the air, you should now turn your attention to the setter as they move to the ball. Do they have a long way to go? Is the set far off the net, will they have to back set, how many options do they have?

All these factors will have an effect on what the setter will do next.

You can also pick up clues from the setter's body language. If they move their shoulders back, chances are, a back set will follow, for instance.

Any body clues you can pick up as the game goes on will help you gain the advantage when it comes to reading where a set will go.

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How can I learn to serve better?

Pace

Pace

Here's some good serving advice:

Remember serving is the only time you really control the pace. Especially if you're behind, take your time to give your team a chance to catch its breath.

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How can I learn to serve better?

Read the Label

Read the Label

Here's a good serving tip:

When serving, hold the ball with the label facing you so you can "read" it. This gives you a focal point to strike and reduces distractions.

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How can I become a better middle blocker?

Middle Blocking, Part 4

Middle blockers rule the net. They need to be warriors, constantly in motion, relentlessly aggressive on offense and defense.

To be an effective CF (Center Front), you must love to work hard and be involved in every play. You're like the shot blocker in basketball. You have to dominate the net, and make it your own, make opposing hitters think about what they're doing, change their shots, throw off their game.

Here's tip 4 for playing tough CF:

Wait an extra 1/2 second when blocking a back row attack. And make certain you have a good chance to get it, because your block may obscure the vision of your teammates, getting ready to dig in the back row.

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How can I read hitters´ intentions from the back row?

Reading Hitters - Part 5

As you watch the flight of the ball for location, height and speed, you'll pick up valuable tips on where the ball is likely to be hit.

We've talked about location in relation to the net. The next variable is height. If the ball is below the height of the net, it will likely be hit offspeed or tipped. Adjust accordingly. A high set gives the hitter many more options, and you'll need to pick up more clues, body language, etc.

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How can I serve more aces?

Serving More Aces, Part 2

Regardless of whether you've seen a team or not, you can maximize your ace totals by looking for the switch on the serve receive and serving to that area. The area where the setter and another player are standing close to each other is congested, and putting your serve into that place will cause even more confusion.

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How can I serve a better floater?

Float Serving Basics, Part 5

Make sure to contact your floater dead center. If you hit it more toward the top of the ball, it will travel in a predictable arc, making it easy to pass. Hitting it too far underneath may cause it to sail out of bounds. So concentrate on the point of contact, and you'll find your floater is more effective.

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How do I become a great middle blocker?

Middle Blocking, Part 1

Middle blockers rule the net. They need to be warriors, constantly in motion, relentlessly aggressive on offense and defense.

To be an effective CF (Center Front), you must love to work hard and be involved in every play. You're like the shot blocker in basketball. You have to dominate the net, and make it your own, make opposing hitters think about what they're doing, change their shots, throw off their game.

Here's the first tip for playing tough CF:

1-Block head-to-head, but remember, the angle shot is easiest to hit, so at the lower levels of play, especially, you'll see 90% angle hits. Shut down the angle, and then see what else your opponent can do. Many times, there's nothing they can do, and will stop hiting. Then you own them! They're no longer a factor.

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Do you have a good hitting drill?

Calling Touch on The Other Team

One of the most frustrating things for hitters is to go up, blast away, have the hit go off opponent's fingers and out of bounds, only to discover no one saw the touch. Here's a way to get a few calls you might not get otherwise:

Simply call "touch" the instant you see them at the net. Oftentimes, the down official or linesperson will hear that and instantly signal a touch. If the ball is close to the net, it's sometimes hard to know who actually called the touch, especially in a noisy gym.

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How can I block better?

Blocker Hand Turn

Blocker Hand Turn

How to keep blockers from getting used:

The outside blocking hand is always turned in toward the court to reduce wipe offs and force the ball back into the opponent's count.

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How can I block better?

Effective Blocking, Part 5

Here's an effective strategy for neutralizing your opposing hitter:

Since 95% of all hitters hit mostly angle, assume that your opposing hitter will hit line ... until they prove differently. Set up your block to take away the angle and stay there until they hit a line shot.

If they finally do hit line, DON'T automatically change your blocking stance. Instead, assume that line shot was an accident, caused by a poorly contacted ball. Only if they hit line a 2nd time in a fairly short time period will you adjust your block to begin guarding the line.

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How can I serve a better floater?

Serving the Floater, Part 3

In an era when jump serving is all the rage, why would anyone bother to serve the floater anymore?

Here's a 3rd reason:
Since the floater moves so slowly in the air, it's often difficult for opponents to decide who has the ball. They have more time to think, and therefore, more time to make mistakes.

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How can I become a better digger?

Passing Basics

If a ball is either too high for you to pass or off to the side when you're in the front row and you make the decision to allow it to go past (for passing by your backrow teammate), let them know!

Talk first, then OPEN UP, which means turning to the side, rather than ducking. I've seen many backrow players take balls squarely in the face when their front row teammate suddenly ducks.

So if you're going to let it go, tell your teammates, and then open up, and do both in plenty of time for them to react.

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How can I pass better?

Becoming a Better Passer, Part 1

Whenever you are called upon to pass, you must first get into position, which means getting the ball between your knees, and contacting it at about zipper level.

Then, you must bend your knees. Don't bend at the waist. Bending at the knees allows you to keep your eyes up, so you can see what's going on.

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How can I serve more aces?

Serving More Aces, Part 1

Once you've become proficient at getting your serve over, and you're able to drop your serve into a particular area, you're ready to begin serving smart. Here's some tips on scoring more aces with your serves:

First, if you haven't had a chance to scout a team ahead of time, look for the biggest kid on the team and serve them. It may sound cruel, and it's a generalization, but the fact remains that the biggest player is often the poorest passer on the team. Try them first, and see if they can get the job done. If not, keep serving them. It'll up your ace total.

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How can I be a better middle blocker?

Middle Blockers, Blocking Back Row Attacks

Middle blockers rule the net. They need to be warriors, constantly in motion, relentlessly aggressive on offense and defense.

Here's an idea for playing tough CF:

Wait an extra 1/2 second when blocking a back row attack. And make certain you have a good chance to get it, because your block may obscure the vision of your teammates, getting ready to dig in the back row.

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How can I be a better middle blocker?

Middle Blockers, Mirror Your Opponent

To be an effective CF (Center Front), you must love to work hard and be involved in every play. You're like the shot blocker in basketball. You have to dominate the net, and make it your own, make opposing hitters think about what they're doing, change their shots, throw off their game.

Here's a pointer on playing tough CF:

Play one-on-one with the opposing CF. It's like man-to-man in basketball. If she goes up, you must up. If she moves to hit a slide, you have to go with her. Unless you know for certain she'll be out of the play, you have to "mirror" the opposing CF.

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How can I serve a better floater?

Floater Basics

How do you serve a "floater?"

The main characteristic of a floater serve is lack of spin on the ball. You accomplish this by keeping your hand flat as you contact the serve. Don't follow through with your wrist as you would normally do.

This will allow the ball to travel through the air with an absolute minimum of spin, making its flight hard to judge.

Remember though, you'll need to hit the ball slightly harder, since you won't be getting that "slingshot" effect you'd normally produce with your wrist follow through.

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How can I become a better setter?

Headless Chicken

Headless Chicken

Here's an interesting take on staying calm in emergencies:

When a "scramble play" occurs, the setter must take control, via set selection and demeanor, to keep the situation from degrading into a "headless chicken" scenario.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Advice for a rolling defensive move

Rolling, Rolling ...

Advice for a rolling defensive move:

If you do end up doing a stride slide (or other floor crashing technique), use a log roll to come out of it rather than a shoulder roll which necessitates you losing sight of the section needlessly exposing yourself.

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How can I serve a better floater?

Float Serving Basics, Part 4

The best spot for your float serve is deep middle, but a serve to area one can be effective, as well. Those two areas give the ball more time to make its movement, making it harder to pass.

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How can I serve more aces?

Serving More Aces, Part 5

Areas 1 and 2 are especially difficult to run plays from, since the setter must either turn around or turn to pick up the ball. This may help you pick up more aces.

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How can I pass better?

Becoming a Better Passer, Part 2

Getting the ball between your legs and bending your knees is well and good, but you'll spoil that whole effort if you poke at the ball or swing.

Instead, lift up gently with your legs, keeping your arms locked, and guide the ball toward your target. Passing, although it's done with the forearms, is mostly done with the legs, if it's done correctly.

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What are some tips for outside hitters?

Hit Line First

We teach our blockers to take away line first, until your opponent hits 2 line shots. So as a hitter, we know the opponent will probably do the same against us. So we teach players to hit the very first shot down the line, for 2 reasons: first, it shows you can do it, and forces opponents to begin playing you more honest, and second, that first line shot will be a "freebie," since they're giving it to you. A free putaway for your stats ... how nice.

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Why is passing important?

The Importance of Passing

Taking pride in your passing is the first step to becoming a great passer. Here's a few ideas to demonstrate why passing is so important:

Imagine a baseball pitcher who was forced to pitch an entire game from second base. How successful would that pitcher be? The chances of success are slim.

Without a pass somewhere close to the net, a setter is put in the same situation as a pitcher throwing from second base. She can't deliver a center set, and her sets to the outside will have to come over the hitters' shoulders, making them hard to judge and hit.

So take pride in passing the ball right to the net, and your team will benefit greatly. You may not get the credit you deserve, but you'll know, inside, where it counts, that you were the beginning point of that success.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Easy Does It

Easy Does It

Here's sage advice for saving balls:

When bringing a "wild" touched ball back to your court, don't get fancy. A nice high underhand pass or overhead set is the easiest ball for your setter to work with.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Reading Hitters, Part 10

The next factor in learning to be a great reader in the back row is to watch your team's block develop.

If the block is up and obscuring your vision, the ball likely won't be hit directly at you very hard. The block will take away that shot. You are probably out of position when you can't see through the block, and need to move to your left or right, depending on the analysis you've made of ball flight and hitter approach.

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How do I become a better middle blocker?

Middle Blocking, Part 5

Middle blockers rule the net. They need to be warriors, constantly in motion, relentlessly aggressive on offense and defense.

To be an effective CF (Center Front), you must love to work hard and be involved in every play. You're like the shot blocker in basketball. You have to dominate the net, and make it your own, make opposing hitters think about what they're doing, change their shots, throw off their game.

Here's a fifth tip for playing tough CF:

Play one-on-one with the opposing CF. It's like man-to-man in basketball. If she goes up, you must up. If she moves to hit a slide, you have to go with her. Unless you know for certain she'll be out of the play, you have to "mirror" the opposing CF.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Reading Hitters, Part 4

As the set leaves the setter's hands, you should again turn your attention to the flight of the ball. You're looking to gauge the relationship of the ball to the net, its height and speed.

If a set is away from the net, chances are the hitter will either tip or hit something off-speed. If the team you're playing is able to hit backrow spikes, however, you'll need to be aware of that, and watch the player moving underneath the ball to see if they jump. That will give you clues as to what they're planning to do, and make your defensive adjustments accordingly.

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How can I become a better setter?

Using Hand Signals

Visible Signals

We offer this tip for players in the heat of the game:

When signaling plays use hand signals that are easy to pick up (fist, open palm, pistol, etc.) rather than number of fingers. Who has time to count fingers from the other side of the court?

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What should be a setter´s goals?

A Setter's Goals

Here's some tips for becoming a great setter, from Al Scates, longtime coach at UCLA.

1- First, become a good setter. Put up the best hittable set under each circumstance, giving your hitter as many options as possible.

2- Once you're "good," become a smart setter. Learn and exploit your opponent's weaknesses, know who your hot hitters are at the moment, learn where they like the ball and set it there, and listen to your coach's suggestions.

3- Once you're "smart," become a deceptive setter. Try not to give clues as to which way you'll be setting, mix it up, make every set hittable and don't become predictable.

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How can I become a better digger?

Palms Together

Palms Together

Although I'm not a fan of interlocking the fingers, I agree with the conclusion on keeping palms parallel when passing:

When underhanded passing, your palms must be "parallel and pressed" for proper hand position. Whether you interlock your fingers or encase your fist is inconsequential, if the palms are parallel.

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How can I improve my hitting?

Pop/Pow

Pop/Pow

This is a way for hitters to condition their minds:

During quick attacks, hitters should think "pop." On power hits, they should think "pow." Hearing that sound in your mind will help you bring them about in your attacks.

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How can I become a better setter?

Setting the Back Row, Part 3

A third thing to remember when setting the back row is to do everything you can to make it obvious who you're setting. It may sound funny, but if you just put the ball up high, but in no particular direction, you may get to see a spectacular collision as two of your teammates both make an attempt to crush your set at the same time.

If you have to, call out who the set is for as soon as you send it into the air. That will avoid confusion. You're the quarterback of the team, remember, and it's your job to keep things organized.

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How can I learn to serve a jump serve?

The Jump Serve, Part 2

Step Two in jump serving involves knowing your own abilities. If you can't jump high enough to get above the net on your spikes, chances are, you're not going to be a good jump server.

You also need to be strong, because your "spike," (which is essentially what a jump serve is) is coming from more than 30 feet behind the net. So you're going to have to crank the ball hard in order to get it over the net at all. If you're not especially strong, you'd better stick with another type of serve.

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What are some tips for center back position?

Call Touches

As center fielder and air traffic controller, you'll want to call touches when you see them, too. And call them LOUD, so everyone can hear you, especially if your crowd noise is deafening. It's all part of using your view to help your team win.

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How can I become a better setter?

Outlets

Outlets

There are times when somebody besides the setter needs to set, so we offer this advice:

Following a bad pass, if the second hit is taken by a non setter, set a high ball to outside hitter as your outlet, this should be practiced so all players can do it proficiently and easily.

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How can I become a better spiker?

Stopping Hitter's Drift

If you have a tendency to drift forward after your hit, putting you into the net far too often, here's an idea: Make your spiking motion against a wall.

Like a field goal kicker getting their steps down in football, turn and make an approach away from the wall. This will give you the proper distance from the wall when you turn back around and make your approach toward the wall again.

A few spectacular crashes into the wall will go a long way toward curing your forward drift, and teach you to go up straight!

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Do you have a good hitting drill?

Air Spikes

Right from the beginning, making a proper approach is the key to becoming a great spiker. So think about making your beginning players, and those players who can't seem to get it together later on, do air spikes everyday as part of their warm up routine.

Have them get back to the 10' line, make their 2 or 3 step approach, depending upon which approach style you prefer, and go through the entire motion, including a high reach and follow through.

Every day, their bodies will begin to develop a muscle memory of the proper execution of the approach, and players will begin to experience more success.

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How can I block better?

Effective Blocking, Part 1

Focus your attention first on the pass by the opponent. Is it close enough to center front and to the net for the setter to run a play or combination, or will the setter have to play it safe and send the set outside?

You won't have much time to make this decision...it will be instananeous. Don't get caught guessing, but try hard to learn as quickly when your opposing setter is comfortable back setting, running quick middles, etc.

This will give you the advantage in getting to the block quicker.

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How can I serve a better floater?

Serving the Floater, Part 1

In an era when jump serving is all the rage, why would anyone bother to serve the floater anymore?

There are many reasons:

1st, the floater can be made to move side-to-side and up and down, which the jump serve won't do. (A jump serve generally needs to be hit hard, and will usually drop quickly, making its flight fairly easy to judge.)

To make your floater move, try hitting the ball right on the stem (the place you use to inflate it). This will make the ball's flight erratic and hard for opponents to judge.

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How can I improve my defense?

Defensive Hand position

Once you learn where to position yourself on the court and the correct defensive stance, don't forget about hand position. When a split second can make the difference between a dig and kill, good hand position can make all the difference. You should have your palms facing up when the hitter contacts the ball. When that ball rockets through the block, your hands will be ready to slide under the ball and pop it up. This seems like a trivial gesture, but really does make a difference.

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How can I block better?

Effective Blocking, Part 6

Here's a good way to learn where to set up on a hitter you don't know very well.

Start on the angle, since most players will hit angle most of the time. Then, if the player hits inside your left hand, set up your next block one step farther to the center.

Keep moving one step toward the center until you finally block a shot. Now you've discovered that hitter's favorite alley. Park yourself in that alley, and make your opponent try something else. Often, no one has ever fine-tuned their block enough to shut that alley down, and they won't quite know what to do.

Often, that player will start to hit harder and harder, which just will make the ball go more quickly back into their own court after carroming off your block.

Then, after several stuffs, that player will begin to tip, and now you OWN them! A hitter who only tips has taken away a large part of their team's offense.

Try it, it works!

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Reading Hitters, Part 6

Once the set has been sent into the air, you'll need to try to key in on its ultimate location, height and speed. The third factor is speed. If the set is going quickly, you'll need to make your movement that much faster in the back row.

If it's going to be a 1 set in the middle, or a shoot to the outside, you'll need to get to where you want to be quickly.

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How can I become a better setter?

Setting the Back Row, Part 5

Setters can be a picky and perfectionist lot, but sometimes, especially when setting the back row, all you're trying to do is to get the ball up high enough for your teammate to get under it and make a good hit.

So don't worry if you have to bump set your offering. If the ball is high and in a reasonably good area, your hitter won't care. Just get the ball there, don't worry too much about whether the set looked pretty in the beginning. It's the end you care about.

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How can I become a better spiker?

When to Dink

The dink can be an effective scoring tool, but it has to be set up. Think of it in terms of football. A team generally tries a few running plays before opening up their passing game. The run sets up the pass. It's similar in hitting. You score a couple heat shots, preferably to several different areas, which rocks defenders back on their heels, which in turn opens up your tipping game.

Hit first, tip next.

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How can I become a better spiker?

Isolating the Arm Swing

We use a box, about 2' tall, 3'x 3' width and length, to allow our players' arms to be above the net on their arm swing. This allows us to isolate just the arm and hand motions.

Then, with a player on the box, we toss balls up quickly, making comments on every hit, offering suggestions and reinforcing proper execution.

This allows many contacts and a great deal of opportunity for instruction without tiring the players out.

We've noticed a great improvement in our team's hitting skills. In fact, one player broke our school record for putaways (kills) by over 100 this season. Try it, it works.

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How can I become a better spiker?

Using Blocks

Using Blocks

This tip is for hitters who find a wall developing in front of them:

By watching the blockers, a hitter can "use" the block for wipes or can hit a soft "rebound" shot into the block that their own block coverage can easily pop back
up and replay.

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How can I be a better middle blocker?

Middle Blocking, Part 3

Middle blockers rule the net. They need to be warriors, constantly in motion, relentlessly aggressive on offense and defense.

To be an effective CF (Center Front), you must love to work hard and be involved in every play. You're like the shot blocker in basketball. You have to dominate the net, and make it your own, make opposing hitters think about what they're doing, change their shots, throw off their game.

Here's a third tip for playing tough CF:

Try to smother the ball. Get your hands completely around the ball, and push it down. Make it impossible for the ball to go anywhere but straight back down.

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How can I become a better center blocker?

Priorities

Priorities

Middle batters should prioritize their hitting as #1 fast, #2 hard. In center front, quickness is the key.

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How do we disguise an accidental back row attack?

Disguising An Accidental Back Row Attack

If you know you've accidentally put the ball away with a back row attack from in front of the 10' line, instantly call all your teammates together for a huddle.

Have everyone mill around, rather aimlessly, so that the officials won't be able to immediately tell who is supposed to be in the back row at that given time.

Stay in your jumbled formation as long as possible. If someone needs to sub out, send them to the sideline, but don't stop milling around.

Once the officials turn their attention to the sub or some other piece of business, it that means they're ready to move on with play, and it's generally safe to return to your correct position.

However, it should be pointed out that a sharp official will take the time to study your line-up until they have satisfied themselves the hit was legal or illegal, then make the call.

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How do I become a better middle blocker?

Quick Pops

Quick Pops

Middle attackers should practice a short quick "pop" arm swing to maximize the effectiveness of the quick middle speed sets (51's, 61's).

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How can I improve my defense?

A Fish on A Cutting Board

Fish on a Cutting Board

Here's an interesting way to think about defense:

"Defense should be played like a live fish on a cutting board." In other words, never give up on the ball. Even if you don't get that one particular ball, your effort and intensity will let your opponents you are a force to be reckoned with.

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How can I learn to serve a jump serve?

The Jump Serve, Part 3

Step Three in your jump serve involves your toss of the ball, and is critical for your success.

You have to toss the ball high, very similar to the height of a set if you were spiking at the net. This gives you the chance to get underneath and make your maximum jump. It also allows you to get a good "crank" on the ball, because you'll need speed and power to get the ball across the net.

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How can I learn to serve a jump serve?

The Jump Serve, Part 5

Part Five in jump serving involves the actual contact of the ball. It's similar to spiking, but you will have to adjust the angle of your swing because the ball must cover more than 30 feet.

In that way, it's more similar to a back row spike, in which you'll want to add a little more "loop" to your swing.

Hit the ball hard, at the top of your jump, give it a strong "loop," and the ball should go in.

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How can I learn to serve better?

Thinking of the Serve as a Weapon

The serve is a weapon, and you can sometimes score as many as 40% of your team's points by simply being a good, accurate server.

Think of it this way:

How many times have you seen basketball teams lose because they could hit their freethrows when it counted? The same is true for serving. Missing serves at critical times can kill a volleyball team.

In fact, if your team can't serve, you'll never win any volleyball games, pure and simple.

To become an effective serving warrior, think in terms of good serves first, and then accuracy.

By serving good, you at least give your team the opportunity to score. By serving to a player who has difficulty passing, you vastly increase your chance of scoring.

Remember, every serve is important, no matter when it occurs in the match. By serving well and accurately, you can help your team win many more matches than they otherwise would have.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

When the Roof is Up

The bigger your block up front, the more you'll need to be on the lookout for tips. So don't get rocked back on your heels. You can't go backward and forward at the same time. Be ready to pick up soft tips over the block, and turn them into free ball opportunities.

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How do I jump serve?

Jump Serve and a Golf Swing

Very few coaches teach players technique when it comes to a jump serve.

A jump serve is like a golf swing in that regardless of which club you use you want to use the same swing every time. Unlike a spike where there are many variables to consider before and durring the attack a good jump serve limits your variables.

It is common for a beginning player to practice variables which is O.K. but only for the initial learning phase(less than 100 swings). You should explore which approach, toss, armswing, etc feels comfortable to you before you settle on a routein.

Once you have the general feel for the skill your approach, toss, jump, armswing, tempo and contact should be the same every time. Perhaps the most important variable is the point of contact. Regardless of what else is happening if you have the same contact point every time you will have success.

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What is a good formula for hitters to remember?

Wrist Wraps

Quick Wrist Wraps

This is a formula for quick hitters to remember:

During quick attacks, the hitter's hand snaps and wraps under the wrist. Think of it this way: a quicker
snap = a quicker shot.

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Are there some tips for becoming a great blocker?

Blocking assignments

We know ...

Middle blockers need to be in charge at all times, and hyo-sen offers this advice to get control:

Middles always call out blocking assignment ahead of time to reinforce blocking action. It also lets your opponents know "you know what they're up to."

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How can I block better?

Block For Points

Block for Points

Firm but softer block directed to an open spot in your opponents court is often more effective than a "roof block"; especially against good block coverage. Firm but softer block directed to an open spot in your opponents court is often more effective than a "roof block," especially against good block coverage.

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How can I become a better spiker?

See The Wall As It

See the Wall as it Forms

This is for players with a tendency to move in too fast for their approach:

On outside hitter attacks, the hitter should delay as long as you can to see the block and defense develop.

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How can I learn to read the hitters when I´m in the back row?

Reading Hitters, Part 1

Becoming a great back row player takes time and practice, like any other skill. The most important factor in playing back row is the ability to READ opposing hitters.

The first step in learning to read hitters begins as soon as the ball has crossed over the net and into your opponent's court.

If you've seen the opposing hitters before, you should already have some idea of what they like to do. For instance, some players hit entirely angle shots. Some like to tip just over the block, some have a wide variety of hits in their arsenal, some are left-handed.

Having a basic knowledge of your opponent's hitting style will allow you to anticipate what they're going to do, so get down and be ready.

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How can I be a better middle blocker?

Middle Blockers, Block Head-to-Head

Middle blockers rule the net. They need to be warriors, constantly in motion, relentlessly aggressive on offense and defense.

To be an effective CF (Center Front), you must love to work hard and be involved in every play. You're like the shot blocker in basketball. You have to dominate the net, and make it your own, make opposing hitters think about what they're doing, change their shots, throw off their game.

Here's a tip for blocking in CF:

Block head-to-head, but remember, the angle shot is easiest to hit, so at the lower levels of play, especially, you'll see 90% angle hits. Shut down the angle, and then see what else your opponent can do. Many times, there's nothing they can do, and will stop hitting altogether. Then you own them! They're no longer a factor.

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How can I become a better spiker?

Touch Tips

Touch Tips

Advice for middle hitters:

When hitting in the middle, practice "touch tips" which get by the blockers hands and fall within 18 inches of the net - not only does it score a point
but it's a real stake in the heart of your opponents, it forces them to cover the whole court in front of as well as behind the attack line.

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How can I become a better setter?

Setting the Back Row, Part 1

Being able to set back row players can be a tremendous addition to your team's arsenal, but setters have to remember a few rules when setting their big guns in the back.

The first is to make sure the ball is set good and high. This allows your teammate a chance to get underneath and make a big jump.

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What are some tips for server receiving?

Just Play It!

Play It!

We offer advice on serve receiving, but it's good advice for ANY time the ball is in play:

On serve receive, play everything until the ball bounces twice: that may not have been a whistle you heard.

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How can I become a better spiker?

Speed Kills

Speed Kills

Here's something to think about:

In volleyball, though power scares, speed kills. In other words, a faster attack can overcome a power game by getting the ball to the floor before blockers and defense can stop it.

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How can I serve the floater?

Easy Float

The Easy Float

This a tip for float servers:

On a float serve, especially if you're hitting a number of serves during a drill, hitting the ball with your fist in the middle of the ball creates more float by reducing hand surface, which touches the ball (hand surface produces spin).

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How can I learn to serve a jump serve?

The Jump Serve, Part 6

The last step in your jump serving routine will be to strive for accuracy. As a high school coach, I generally love to see a player who uses a jump serve against us, because normally they're only good for a couple points. After that, they either hit the net, or our passers adjust to the fairly predictable flight of the ball, and we'll get it back, either way.

As a jump server, you'll need to work hard on getting the ball over the net and in the court. That's your absolute first priority. Once you have a high serving percentage, you can begin to pick out a bad passer on the other team and try to serve them.

Accuracy is your greatest worry as a jump server. You never help your team if the ball doesn't stay playable. If you can become accurate, however, you can create havoc for opposing passers.

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How can I become a better spiker?

Hitting

Outside Hitting is a very important job! This is what usually stops the rally and scores the points! It takes a good set too! When hitting in the outside postion stand outside the court and take a three step approach make sure the last step and quick and angeled. Make sure to get a big arm swing that way you have more room and momentum! This will help you go for the kill!

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