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Volleyball Training Journal issue 045
August 16, 2011





Physical attributes such as power, speed, and agility can all be limited by insufficient strength.

Visit my latest page on building strength and speed for volleyball.



There are 5 key components to making a successful play in volleyball.

Let's talk about the 5 components and how they relate to spiking.

The 5 components that make up each skill in volleyball are...

1. End Result (the result you're after)

2. Positioning (the optimal position for making the play)

3. Technique (the technique used to get in position)

4. Anticipation (the skill of reading the play that helps you get in position)

5. Ball Contact (where on the body the ball is contacted - hands, fingers, arms, foot, etc)

End Result

The end result can be defined as the result that the player is after. Obviously, if you don't know what you're trying to do, you're going to have a tough time executing the skill. The desired end result of a spike puts your team in better position to win the point. Win the rally by spiking the ball to the floor, off a blocker or defender.


Positioning can be defined as the position you want to get into when making the play. If you aren't very good at getting in position, you won't likely get the end result you want. For spiking, the key position to get into is the hammer position. This is the optimal hitting position to be in where the attacker is ready to spike the ball. Positioning is often thought of as the most important component because the better you are at getting in position, the more likely you are to make a successful play.


Technique can be defined as the skill used to get in position to make the play. For spiking, the technique would be your footwork and body movement to get in position. The better your technique, the better you are at getting in position to spike.


Anticipation can be defined as the skill of reading how the play is unfolding. The better you are at anticipating the play, the better you'll be at getting in position. For spiking, the key anticipation skills involve reading your teammates. For example, if you read your setter well, you'll more likely be able to predict the placement of the set. The better an attacker is at reading the setter (reading body language, body positioning of the setter, the setting technique used, and the flight of the ball), the better the attacker will be at getting in position to spike.

Ball Contact

Ball contact can be defined as the technique for contacting the ball. This is closely related to positioning. For spiking, how an attacker contacts the ball is critical to the end result of the play. Ball trajectory is mostly dependent on the type of ball contact. For example, when spiking, contacting the ball in a way that creates topspin will allow the ball to drop into the court. If you hit the ball flat, the ball may float and not drop as quickly.

All these components are dependent upon one another for successfully executing skills. For example, when spiking, if your spike approach TECHNIQUE isn't very good, then you'll have a hard time getting in POSITION to spike. If you don't ANTICIPATE your setter very well, it'll be much more difficult to get in POSITION.

Making successful plays is all about getting in POSITION. For example, the best defenders anticipate the play really well and use good technique that allows them to get in position to dig.

The best setters can anticipate where their teammates will pass the ball. It's not just about reaction time. Processing the little clues such as how a player moves to pass, what direction they are moving, and how quickly they move is important for anticipating the pass and getting in position to set.

The best setters read teammates very well and make getting in position look easy. Often a setter can appear lightning quick when in reality they just read the play really well.

Most players that struggle passing have a hard time because they aren't reading the server. The best passers watch for clues such as where the server tosses the ball. If the ball is tossed more out in front, the ball is going to be contacted lower and therefore travel at a lower trajectory. If the ball is contacted more behind the servers head, the ball will likely travel at a higher trajectory. Good passers use these clues to help themselves get in position to pass.

If you struggle to get in position, making the play is very difficult, if not impossible.

Visit my latest page on techniques for hitting smarter and winning the battle at the net.

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