Volleyball needs a lot of practice on a regular basis as there is always room for improvement for you – irrespective of whether you are a beginner or a professional player. There are some volleyball skills that can prove to be handy for improving your overall game. Volleyball is a game where your legs, shoulders and core muscles should be in top form always. Ten skills that help you stay in shape for the game and that help become you a pro in this game are explained below. When you practice these on a daily basis, you can play volleyball just anywhere you want, with great agility and expertise.
- Broad Jumps
Yes, jumping is an important part of volleyball. However, the key is to know when to jump, how to jump and more importantly, how to land perfectly with your legs and hands in a well-balanced position. One of the most important and foremost volleyball skills that you need to become a great player is the art of broad jumps. When you do these broad jumps efficiently, you can master the three main actions in a volleyball game – hitting, jump serving and blocking.
In an area spanning 15 yards, you need to practice these jumps everyday by positioning yourself in such a way that your feet are parallel with each other, knees are bent slightly and arms at the side of your body. Practice the jump after squatting and swinging your arms backwards, so that you get the distance right. Do this jump in 6 sets every day, which each containing ten jumps.
- Serving overhand
While focussing on developing the flashy and fancier skills, we always tend to ignore the basics. If we don’t get our basics right, no amount of style will help us. One of the basic volleyball skills that will put us in good stead always is the overhand serve. All you need to do is to get to the court daily, stand a few steps behind the serving line, throw the ball high in the air and use your palm to hit it across the net with a lot of force.
Ensure that you keep throwing the ball at greater heights, while improvising each day to improve the position where you are hitting the volleyball from. If you started with hitting with your palm in the initial stages, start practicing with the horseshoe part of your hand. This way, you can make your serves more accurate and forceful. The key here is to get your position right so that you don’t lose your balance when you aim for accurate serves. When you keep practising on a daily basis, your body will get used to the amount of power you are delivering on each serve, and you will come to a conclusion as to which is the right amount of force for you.
Having your core muscles in good condition is very important for actions like blocking, attacking, jumping, and serving or passing. Therefore, it is important for you to do regular exercises to keep your cores intact. It is not enough if you have the skill to play the game; you should be fit enough to implement these skills. To develop your core, you need to start off by doing planks every day. If you are a beginner, do the simple planks first and proceed to do complicated versions.
Maintain a position where your head, back and legs are in the shape of a straight line. With your elbows at a 90-degree angle and your forearms kept on the court, ensure that your feet are as wide as your shoulders. Keep your hip straight and maintain this position for about 45 seconds. When you start out aim for 30 seconds and do as many planks as you can every day, as it helps to improve your core. If you do 20 of these a day you will be well on your way to having a strong core. Once you have mastered this, you can be innovative and bring in variations like a raised leg or raised hand or more.
- Proper Passing skills
One of the most important volleyball skills that you need to acquire if you want to become a great player is passing. While you are passing the ball, you have to have an amazing foot balance because you cannot afford to be wobbly on your feet when you are involved in such an important action. Your priority should be standing firmly on your feet without bouncing on the court when you are given the responsibility of passing the ball. You need to work on your quadriceps muscles if you want to get this skill right.
Most of us who watch the game of volleyball on television believe that passing is done only by the arms. However, as a player, or as an aspiring player who aims to make it big in the game, you should know that passing involves more of hip and leg movements. Next, ensure that you get your forearms into the right position. Your elbows need to be in a locked position to enable you to get the serve better.
- Setting the ball
A volleyball set is where you get to play the game in tandem with the other person’s moves. Learning to set the ball is an important volleyball skill that you need to acquire. Here, you strike the ball and other person spikes it. An important point you need to remember while setting the ball is that you should never use your palm to make contact with the ball. You should use your fingertips, especially the thumb, middle finger and index finger. If you want to master the art of a volleyball set, you should practice the art of holding the ball in your fingertips and catching it correctly. You can then try to throw the ball into the air with your fingertips and practice to get a perfect balance.
When you set effectively, you learn to master one aspect of volleyball. When you keep your hands above your head, you will see a triangle being created between your index fingers and thumb (of both hands). This triangle will be formed only by the fingertips and not by touching of your hands. Get a perfect balance and try to pass your ball through this triangle to be the perfect setter.
This is one of those volleyball skills that test your agility and timing. One of your team members has already set the ball and now it is your turn to spike the ball with a great forceful action the opposing team struggles to connect with the ball. You must be agile enough to meet the ball at its highest point and hit it from there. It is important to know when to jump to meet the ball at this point. Timing is everything in spiking.
Once the ball is in the air, ensure that you hit the ball with great force from a great height using the middle of your hand. When you do this, you can be sure of getting the ball across the net in a flash. When you time your jump properly the opposing team will have trouble returning the spike and this will help your team score points. Jumping too quickly or too late will spoil the tempo and you will not be able to hit the ball as well as you wanted to. The only way to improve your timing is to practice on your spiking skills hard every day until you become proficient at it.
- Team spirit and communication skills
In any sport that is played as a team, it is important for the players to develop an understanding and know each other strengths and weaknesses. Even if you are good at playing volleyball at one particular position, you should be willing to put your team first and be ready to play by defending, setting, spiking, jumping, leaping, blocking, passing or whatever it is that the team demands from you. When you do this, you not only develop your overall talent but also grow up to be a team player, which will speak volumes about your sportsmanship and character.
Every coin has two sides to it. Volleyball is no exception to this rule. While playing the game as a team has its share of merits, it also comes with its share of shortcomings. When the team members don’t get along very well, it can lead to miscommunication on the field, which eventually leads to collision and injury. If you know that you have control of the ball that is thrown to you by the opponent, call out “mine” loudly, so that your other team members know you have got it. After every point is won or lost, get into a huddle with your team to discuss your strategy and keep everyone encouraged.
- Physical fitness
Like we already explained, unless you are physically fit, you cannot become a successful volleyball player, even if you have got wonderful techniques and brilliant strategies. Apart from focussing on your serving, setting, blocking and spiking skills, pay ample attention to your physical fitness as well. Working out in addition to practicing for volleyball will help you to train your muscles and parts that are used mostly while playing volleyball. Apart from improving your overall speed and fitness, you should also practice on getting your leaps right, make your body more flexible and agile and give particular attention to the lower body and core muscles.
You need to move around at lightning speed on the court if you want to get your moves right. Hence, you need to practice shuffle runs and wind sprints on a regular basis so that your body listens to your heart when you have to move or jump at a particular point. You can also include plyometric while training so that you can make your body as flexible as possible. Experts recommend using a jump rope as well so that you can get your vertical leaps right and perfect the art of spiking and jumping as well.
As a blocker, you are stopping your opponent from making a successful hit. You need to ensure that you block the ball successfully and put it back in your opponents’ court so that you don’t allow them to score a point. To know how to block effectively, you need to know the position of the setters and hitters so that you can predict as to how the ball is going to go through and what strategy you need to adopt to defend or block the ball effectively. Needless to say, sharp eyesight is one of the key skills to become a great blocker.
Improve your shuffle step and crossover step technique by practising regularly. Of the two, the latter is more difficult as it involves matching hip movements as well along with your legs. It is also more effective than shuffle step because it gives you more agility and flexibility to get to the ball quickly.
You need to develop digging skills if you want to give a fitting reply to your opponent who has spiked the ball. When you dive in the right direction and at the right time, you can stop the volleyball from touch the ground after it has come over the volleyball net. As a digger, you need to be an expert in most of the kinds of movement, and you should be able to apply these movements at the last second by anticipating the spike of the opponent. You need to be on your toes always.
Practice the digging position every day and get help from the experts about the position where you need to start and how you need to keep your knees, legs and hands so that you can move in the direction that you wish to. Of all the positions, the one of the diggers is quite unpredictable as it involves the digger watching closely for the movements of the opponent, and then responding with a different and creative move every single time.