Volleyball Approaches
Tips for the Volleyball Spike Approach

Volleyball approaches and strategies to jump high and hit hard. 

Particularly if you're a coach, you may have noticed many players have different styles of hitting. Some players approach left-right-left. Some players approach right-left-right.

Some players swing both arms back before the jump to hit. Some players swing there arms up back and around when they approach. 

Some players bring one arm back and swing it around like they were throwing a baseball. 

Needless to say, there are many different styles of volleyball approaches. From my experience, the following approach technique is what I believe to be the best way to get up high and hit hard.

Develop your habits early 

I believe most players develop their hitting style earlier on when they are just starting out playing.

Hitting Arm in "Hammer Position"

You may have developed good habits because you were fortunate enough to have a good coach or maybe just developed them naturally. 

Players that learned good techniques for hitting early on have a big advantage over other players because the approach is probably the hardest technique in volleyball to change. So it's wise to develop good habits early in your playing career. 

How to jump higher when approaching to spike

What can you do to jump higher and hit harder?

Below, I want to discuss an approach technique that specifically focuses on jumping high. By using an explosive approach, you will be able to use that explosive energy to not only jump higher, but also hit harder. 

I have a few clips of professional volleyball players Sean Rosenthal and Emanuel Rego. Both are tremendous athletes that have really good footwork for getting up high in the air. 

A couple things you really need to take away from this... Notice how both players don't start their approach until after the ball is set. They take a couple of tiny steps before the ball is set, but really, they haven't committed until they've made a judgment to where the ball is going. This is important.

The longer you can wait, the better. I see a lot of players starting their approach and committing too early. If you commit before you know where the ball is going, you likely have to adjust your steps which throws off timing. 

Obviously, if you are running quick plays you'll likely need to start your approach earlier. 

Not only do you have better timing when you wait, you are forced to take steps quickly which is important to jumping high.

How to use your steps and arms to jump high

Let's discuss a couple things that will really make a difference in your jump. 

Your Arms
Your arms should be used during your volleyball approach to...

  1. help increase jump height and reach

  2. help with getting your body in good position to hit
Volleyball approaches tips for better spiking

Developing a good arm swing back technique will significantly help with increasing your vertical jump

It's important to swing your arms back to pre-stretch then explode. By doing this swing back technique you will utilized stored elastic energy in your arms. 

Your Steps
If you're right handed, the order of your steps should be left-right-left. These are the last 3 steps of your approach. It really doesn't matter how many steps you take, what's important is that your last three are left-right-left. 

If you're left handed, the order of steps is exactly the opposite, right-left-right. 

When a right handed hitter approaches right-left-right, this is commonly referred to as "goofy footed". The order of steps has been somewhat of a controversial topic. For instance, many coaches don't believe the order of steps for volleyball approaches matter. 

I would argue the extra ground contact time (even though it's very slight) costs you greatly in your vertical jump height. If you ever watch basketball players jump for a rebound, you will notice many players rebound or jump to dunk off two feet taking the steps right-left-right. I believe they do this naturally so they jump more straight up to reach high with both arms, but they really don't jump as high because it takes longer to plant and jump. 

For volleyball approaches, not only do you want to reach high, but also have forward momentum to hit hard. 

I think a "goofy footer" has a disadvantage because it takes longer to get up in the air, your body is more square rather than open, and you end up jumping more straight up and lose forward momentum. 

Also, "goofy footers" often appear to jump really high even though it's just the fact they have to adjust their positioning in the air before they are ready to hit. 

With all that said, if how you approach works for you, great. It may not be worth trying to change.

Quick feet with minimal time on the ground

The key to being explosive is being able to utilize stored elastic energy. I'm not going to get in too deep here, but basically, the quicker you change directions, the more stored energy you can use. 

Foot Speed

You may also notice in these two clips both players take big last steps before they plant and jump. To really maximize your jump height, both the last big step and plant jump should be done as quick and as explosive as possible. These steps are the ones that are really important for stored energy.

Tips for making plays and approaching in beach volleyball

Remember the character "Dash" from the movie,
The Incredibles?

Dash had super power speed. He was really fast. He was so fast he could run on water. Well, when I think about moving in beach volleyball, this is how you should run in the sand - quick steps on top of the sand.

The quickest beach players run on top of the sand, they don't sink. If you are slow, you'll sink and it will end up taking more effort and energy to move. So really, if you move quick on top of the sand not only will you be quicker, you may actually conserve energy.

Volleyball Approaches Related Pages

Hitting Strategies

Hitting Drills

Basic Attacking Skills

Basics of Spiking 

› Volleyball Approaches