Passing in volleyball. You're about to discover the keys to being a successful passer.
Why become a great passer?
When you pass consistently to the setter, it becomes much easier to run the offense. Play starts with the pass. Don’t overlook this. You need to pass first before the setter can set the hitter.
Passing the Ball Low
You want to keep the ball low when passing. You don’t want the ball to have backspin when it comes off your arms. If the ball is high and spinning, then it’s tough for the setter to set. It’s also easier to direct the ball when you focus on passing lower.
For the technique of passing, it’s the feet that are the first thing to get correct. The skill of passing starts with the feet. You want your footwork to be quick and light. If you get your feet correct, you’ll have a lot easier time passing the ball.
Passing starts with the feet. Get the footwork down then everything else will fall into place.
You want to get moving before the ball is served. If you wait until after the ball is served to start moving, it’s often too late to make a successful play.
To get the feet moving, you need to anticipate the serve. Watch the server and try to read what serve is coming. For footwork in serve receive, it’s recommended to shuffle to the ball.
Shuffling the Feet & Timing
Timing is important. To get good at timing, you’ll need to practice and experiment shuffling the feet at different times to get good at timing the ball. For faster serves, you’ll need to shuffle faster and get to the ball quicker.
For a harder serve, you will also need to cushion the ball more on your arms. For a softer serve, you will need to push the ball with your arms. You are constantly anticipating. You are constantly reading the server and the ball so you can make good decisions on when to move and how to move to get in position to pass. To be good at anticipating, you need a lot of experience. So, don't get too frustrated if this is hard. Keep practicing and you'll soon get better.
The Prep Step
A prep step is a pre-step before you know where to move to the ball. This could be a little hop that gets your feet moving before the ball is contacted by the server.
The advantage of shuffling is you aren’t crossing your feet to get to the ball. It’s just a quick shuffle so your body stays open and easily able to angle the ball to pass.
The combination of staying low and quickly shuffling your feet to the ball is the key to passing.
One guarantee when you pass is you will always need to move to the ball. So, it’s a good idea to never get caught being flat footed. You don’t want to just hope the ball comes right to you. You need to stay on the balls of your feet ready to move any direction.
Coaches have different philosophies for teaching passing. Some coaches prefer players to stay deep and always be moving forward to pass. You stay deep to keep the ball in front of you.
Other coaches prefer to teach players to be moving away from the target when passing. So basically, be moving with the ball as it comes to your arms. To do this successfully, you need to start moving backwards before serve contact. So, you start positioned closer to the net, then start taking steps backward as the ball is being served. The advantage of passing in this way is you can always stop and move forward for the short serve. On the other hand, if you start moving forward from a position deep in the court, then realize the ball is served deep, you can’t stop and go back.
So, it’s always easier to stop and go short. If you try to stop and go deep (in serve receive) you won't make the play.
If you are up against a really good server and you're struggling to pass, try to anticipate by taking some chances. Just avoiding getting aced may be the goal.
Just getting the ball up and keeping it in play is better than getting aced. So, stay low, move the feet early, and work hard to get in position to pass the ball the best you can even if it’s just to keep it alive.
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