10 Tips to Make you a Better VB Player

  • 10 Tips to make you a better volleyball player
    by Ed Albright, Valley Forge Volleyball Club

    As coaches of young volleyball players in grade school or JV high school, much of our time is spent on the mechanics of the four of five main volleyball skills; serving, passing, setting, hitting and depending on the level of play, blocking. All of these skills are more easily mastered by the players who have either natural athletic tendencies or previous athletic training. Most other players can be taught these skills over time and they usually can be mastered with constant repetitions. But with only a few weeks to prepare for the first match of the season, what can be done now to make better overall players of all players including the less experienced, or less athletic player.

    I compiled this list of ten non-athletic “skills” for a club team of fourteen-year-olds. However, as I have since then coached fifteen and sixteen-year-old club teams, and attended or officiated at some college matches, I find that these 10 “skills” must still be practiced or reinforced with players of all ages.

    SKILL 1- CALL THE BALL- Call it loud, early and often and with a tone in your voice that makes it absolutely clear to everyone around you that they should get out of your way because this ball is YOURS. And make sure you call it early enough, preferably before it crosses the net, so that the other players can stay clear of your path and get into an on-help position. If another player calls the ball at the same time as you and with the same high level of certainty as you, you should do one of two things; if there is time you should call the other players name and tell that player to go for the ball as you back-off and give that player room to play the ball, or, if there is not sufficient time or if you and the other player are already almost on top of each other, you should continue to play the ball. Remember, if one or both of you play the ball, you will have a much better chance at making the point than if neither of you plays the ball.

    SKILL 2- KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THAT EVERY BALL IS COMING TO YOU- You are never a spectator while on the court. Whenever the ball is moving you probably should be moving too. As long as you have your mind set that the next ball is coming to you, you will be ready when it actually does come to you and you will be able to make a play on the ball from a position of readiness rather than just reacting at the last moment.

    SKILL 3- KNOW YOUR AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY- Your areas of responsibility change with each touch of the ball, either by your team or by the opponent’s team. Be in position, defending your territory or ready to complete an attack play involving your territory. When on defense, you must have your mind set to believe that your opponent will not successfully attack your territory.

    SKILL 4- PURSUE EVERY BALL- Even if you have not yet mastered the proper passing skills to perfectly play a stray ball, you will give your team a huge motivational boost by running down and getting to any apparently unplayable ball. Even if you cannot pass the ball when you do get to it, an attempt to at least get a hand on it and keep it off the floor might give a pursuing player a chance to play the ball to your side of the court or to free ball it to the opponent’s side of the court.

    SKILL 5- GO TO THE LINE- Even the best athlete can’t properly play a line ball if the player chooses to guess (or hope or pray) that it is out. Not pursuing a ball that falls in your side of the court makes you appear to be either lazy, indifferent, or at least unable to see clearly and it is impossible to play a ball that has already gone over your head or out of you reach. Going to the line shows that you are always ready to hustle for your team. It shows that you value every single point and most importantly, if you happened to have thought that the ball was out and you were wrong, at least now you are in position to correct your error. You must go to the line even if it is obvious. This way, you do not ever have to consider when to go to the line- you just always do.

    SKILL 6- STAY LOW ON DEFENSE- Remember the other team is not aiming at your chest or your waist-high platform or even at your knees. The opponent is aiming at the floor. Get low to where they are hitting.

    SKILL 7- CHEAT TO THE OUTSIDE- The other team is aiming for spots within your side of the court, and, the player you want to pass the ball to is also within your side of the court, therefore it makes sense to face into the court toward the setter. You will have better control playing a ball in front of you and in the court than a ball that you must back-up on or turn around for.

    SKILL 8- FACE THE TARGET- Your body wants the ball to go where it thinks you are going. If you face the crowd on the sidelines, then that is where your body will automatically tell the ball to go. However if you face the setter, your pass has a better chance of getting to the setter and if, when attacking, you face the other team your attack has a better chance of landing in their court. Unless and until you have the ability and presence of mind at the time of the hit to steer the ball to exactly where you want it to go, at least make sure that you face the target and let your body do the steering while you concentrate on other aspects of your hit or pass.

    SKILL 9- STAY UP ON YOUR FEET- Play the ball while on your feet even if you go to the floor for a ball…play the ball while on your feet, then you can go to the floor if that is your only option. But remember SKILL #2. If every ball is coming to you it’s going to be hard to play a ball while recovering from a sprawl, a collapse of a fall. Sprawls and rolls can look great to the fans and certainly when executed properly they can sometimes soften the contact with the floor, but it is more difficult to make a good pass when you are not on your feet and it is impossible to be on-help on to be running in for coverage if you are still getting up from the floor.

    SKILL 10- ATTITUDE- Attitude is that variable that allows you to do more with what nature gave you and to get more out of how you have been nurtured or taught. You will know that you have the right attitude for volleyball when you realize for the first time, while standing on the court waiting for a serve a hit or a set, that you find yourself actually hoping that the ball does comes to yo