Drills for Volleyball Spikes
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It's no accident that a successful volleyball spike is also known as a "kill." A well-executed spike during a game can gain points, improve team dynamics, and intimidate the opposing team. Without practicing proper form, however, players can send spikes flying out of bounds, or into the net. Simple drills will help players learn approach, timing, and technique.
Front-row players should initiate the spike approach from the 10-foot line. The proper approach allows the player to gain momentum, lift into the air, and hit the ball from above with more precise aim and follow-through. You should incorporate a spike-approach warm-up into the beginning of each practice to get the players ready for action.
Ask the players to line up single-file on the left-hand side of the court, behind the 10-foot line. One after the other, each player should practice her spike approach, performing the "left, right-left, jump" footwork, with the backward arm swing and subsequent hitting movement. The first player will perform her left-front position mock-spike, then immediately move to center-court to perform a middle-front approach, then a right-front approach. Each player follows suit. The players should rotate through each position two to three times, concentrating on approach form.
To work on precision and follow-through, send each player to a wall to practice wall-spikes. Standing approximately 10 feet from the wall, the player should balance the ball in her non-dominant hand, extending the elbow so that arm is straight, and raising the arm up and across her body so it sits at roughly head-height in front of the opposite shoulder. She should lift and draw back her opposite arm, bending the elbow so the hand starts near her shoulder. She should use her dominant hand to hit the ball, aiming down toward the ground between herself and the wall. When the ball bounces off the floor, it will hit the wall and ricochet back toward the player. As it returns to her, she should track the ball with her extended non-dominant hand, and as it reaches her, she should hit the ball again with her dominant hand, continuing the drill. If the ball takes an odd bounce and the player can't return it, she should just start over. Continue for five minutes before switching arms and practicing with the non-dominant hand.
You can split this drill up onto several courts so each player has more time to practice. Each group should include at least three players, but you can use larger groups, rotating players in at the passing position.
Start one player in the back-left position, with a setter at the net holding a ball. A third player should stand on the opposite side of the net to shag the ball. The setter tosses the ball to the passer, who passes the ball back to the setter. The setter then sets the ball while the passer moves to hitting position at the 10-foot line, and makes the proper approach to spike, or kill, the ball over the net. The shagger shags the ball and the players rotate, the passer taking the setter's position, the setter taking the shagger's position, and the shagger rotating to the pass-hit position. The rotation continues for five minutes before switching sides, to work on the right side of the court.
Laura Williams has worked in recreation management since 2004. She holds a master's degree in exercise and sport science education from Texas State University, as well as a B.A. in exercise and sport science from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.