Without the serve, no team can win. It´s that simple. By serving well, you can account for as much as 40% of your team´s offensive output.
There are many different types of serves, but they all have one thing in common: a server must develop a consistent routine.
Think of it in terms of shooting free throws in basketball. A player steps to the line, bounces the ball a couple times, takes a deep breath, and shoots.
The same strategy works in serving. Work out a routine from the very beginning of your career, and once you´ve found something that works, stick with it.
A typical routine will involve looking down while you bounce the ball several times, collecting your thoughts, then looking up, taking a deep breath, and then going into your serving motion.
Never underestimate the importance of your routine. Do it exactly the same whether it´s the first serve of the game or match point for the championship. Every serve is critical. Use your routine every time and see how your success will build.
Nearly every player has played some sort of card game, so they´re all familiar with what a "spade" is.
We tell beginning players to make a "spade" by touching their thumbs and index fingers together. Then we have them look up through that "spade" and remember that shape.
We also call it a "view finder," which seems to help. It gives players a visual description to key on when they´re first learning to set.
You don´t have to do spectacular 100 mph jump serves to be a great server. Here´s some tips on how you can become a greater offensive weapon the serving line.
First, make sure you have a consistent routine. Then, concentrate on getting the ball over the net. Your team can´t score if you don´t keep the ball in play.
Next, think about placement of your serve. Pick out an area that appears vulnerable ... a hole, unprotected corner or a player who has had trouble passing earlier.
Then, put the ball in that area. If you have a strong defense, you won´t need to serve tough. Aces are fun, but a point is a point, regardless of how it´s gained.
Remember: the first key to being a great server is to get the ball over the net. Nothing is more discouraging to a team than to work hard to get the ball and then have someone serve into the net.
Like free throws in basketball, each serve is important, and enough of them can make the difference between winning and losing.
An inexpensive, yet highly effective technique for teaching beginners to pass involves something everyone can easily come by ... a one-gallon milk jug.
Set the milk jug on the floor, and then have the passer stand above it, feet slightly wider than her shoulders, the milk jug slightly in front of her body.
The passer then bends her knees, keeping her back straight, eyes forward, arms locked into the passing position, until she can feel the handle of the milk jug with her index fingers.
Have her pick up the milk jug with her two fingers, and rise up with her knees, always keeping her back straight, eyes up, and the jug squarely between her legs.
This technique is excellent for teaching beginners not to bend at the waist, making it difficult for them to see their target. If taught very early, it will help train the body to always maintain the proper stance when passing, and eliminate many of the bad habits that creep into player´s technique if they´re not taught correctly from the very beginnning.
Here´s a way to up your outside hitting percentage by simply making your opposing blocker "play you honestly." The strategy is simple, but not used nearly enough.
All you have to do is to always, without exception, hit your first ball down the line. Sounds simple, right? But what it does is this: blockers are taught to block angle until the opponent hits the line, since 90% of hits are blasted angle.
So if you hit your very first hit down the line, it instantly shows your opponent you can do it, and that you WILL do it. They must now play you straight on, to guard the line, which will open up your angle again.
Another hint: if your first line shot goes down, hit your second one down the line, too. The reason? Many coaches assume that a line shot was actually an accident, a ball that wasn´t hit right, in effect. They´ll tell their blockers to keep blocking angle until their opponent hits two down the line. So you´ll get away with a second shot down the line, as well.
It goes without saying that if they never adjust, keep hitting the line all night. Either way, your percentage has increased dramatically.
To teach proper setting position to beginners, we have them balance the ball on their forehead for as long as they can. This give them a good feel for where the ball is supposed to be when they´re setting in the proper position.
Middle blockers rule the net. They need to be warriors, constantly in motion, relentlessly aggressive on offense and defense.
To be an effective CF (Center Front), you must love to work hard and be involved in every play. You´re like the shot blocker in basketball. You have to dominate the net, and make it your own, make opposing hitters think about what they´re doing, change their shots, throw off their game.
Here´s some tips for playing tough CF:
After having beginners balance the ball on their foreheads, we have them toss the ball up, and let it hit them in the center of their forehead. This reenforces where the ball should hit them when they get ready to set, if they´ve gotten into the proper position.
Every new player wants to spike ... it´s the glamour skill, after all. But it´s also one of the hardest to break into components for teaching. We begin by using tennis balls.
Since most young people have thrown a baseball or softball, their bodies and minds are attuned to the technique involved. Having players toss a tennis ball against a wall allows us to show them how similar the armswing and wrist snap in a volleyball spike are to the throwing motion.
Players respond well to the instruction, because it is something they´re familiar with, thus taking some of the fear out of the learning process.
After tossing the ball so that it bounces once, hits the wall and returns to them a few times, players begin to get a feel for the spiking motion.
After the wall, we move to the net, where we have players simply stand and snap the ball over the net a few times. Then we have them jump in place, tossing the ball over.
After they´re comfortable with the jumping and tossing,we move to teaching of the approach, still using the tennis balls.
Have two players sit cross-legged, facing each other close enough for their knees to touch. Then have them set a ball between them, staying under control.
This drill helps develop good hand position, develops quickness and accuracy, and gives many touches in a short amount of time.
It´s especially effective at the beginning of the season, or in a camp situation, so you can isolate just the hand motion and offer feedback for improvement.
Telephone for You
A tongue-in-cheek observation from hyo-sen:
Hitters must keep their eyes open when they hit or it’s like hitting in a telephone booth. Ouch!
Here´s an idea for teaching the wrist snap on spikes. Hand the player a kneepad, then have them go through their approach, including the big high-reaching arm swing. At the height of their jump, have them toss the kneepad over the net, trying to get it as close to the 10´ as possible. This helps quite a bit in teaching the snap at the end of the spiking motion.
Does your serve not go where you want it to? Try this - when you are serving, point your toes, knees, hipsand shoulders where you want your ball to go. Serve it up!!