The hitting volleyball drills we do in semi private training and Boot Camp classes are to prepare outside hitters and middle blockers to hit confidently in various pressure packed situations.
You learn how to get the ball past a double block, how to hit the high seam between blockers hands, how to wipe off the block, how to mix up shots and how to hit deep corners.
As a left side outside hitter you need to get used to having two blockers up against you when you hit since the opposing team will anticipate you receiving the majority of sets.
Just like the defensive players on a football team have eyes on the opposing team's running back and expect him to run the ball or catch the ball most of the time, the blockers on defense on a volleyball team keep a special eye out, always watching and anticipating the ball being set to the opposing team's left side hitter.
There are hitting volleyball drills designed specifically for hitters to develop the ability to hit past the block, through the seam of the block or to tool the blocker's hands in an effort to score with their attack hit.
You want to be ready for all types of situations and you need to prepare to hit against a one-player, two-player or even three player block put up against you to try and stop your attack hits at the net.
Check out my former coach, three-time USA Olympic volleyball coach Taras "Terry" Lyskevich as he explains his version of the "One Hitter vs Six Players" drill.
There are various ways for a spiker to beat the block.
Once you learn what your options are you will become a very confident and effective hitter.
Indoor players should first look to exploit the holes in the block.
As an outside spiker when you go up to spike the ball you want to look for holes in the seams between the middle blocker and the blocker in front of you.
When blockers don’t time their block so they jump up together the space that is created between them is called the seam.
When you see a hole in the block or the seam you should aim your spike right for that “seam” without fear.
Check out this hitting drill where hitters practice spiking the seam of the block.
The second thing you can do is use your spike to use the block to score a point.
Also called "tooling the block" or "tool the block" as a hitter you want to get comfortable with the ability to "use" the opposing blocker's hands to score a point.
You want to spike the ball like you do when you are going to hit down the line.
Aim straight ahead at the outside blocking arm of your opposing blocker.
Your spiking arm motion "follow-through" should finish with your spiking arm coming down across your body, so your right arm will finish at your left hip.
So when the ball comes back off the blocker's outside hand it comes back over your left shoulder outside the sidelines of the court.
You don't want to twist your body, just let your arms do all the work.
When you learn to wipe the ball off the block its impossible for the opposing team to dig this ball up and replay it in defense.
In a drill we do to practice wiping off the block I'll set up a left side hitter on one side of the net who's competing against a right side blocker on the other side of the net.
Both players start at the net with the Coach in the setter's position ready to toss balls to the hitter who will start the drill.
Lets say the left side hitter starts first. When Coach slaps the ball left side hitter transitions off the net and has been instructed to only hit the ball down the line.
The right side blocker has been instructed to block the line, taking the hit down the line away from the hitter.
The left side hitter must now solve the problem of getting the ball past block by aiming their spiked ball at the hand of the blocker that's closest to the outside antenna.
When hit correctly the hitter's ball will be "wiped off" the outside hand of the blocker and the ball will land outside the court preferably on the hitter's side.
When done correctly this is a ball that cannot be picked up by opposing team diggers.
I just explained how we do our version of the wipe drill which I do with older more experienced players with ball control.
Now check out how former NCAA Division I Player of the year Cary Wendell Wallin does her version of these hitting volleyball drills.
I like how she explains why she makes a few adjustments for younger players who she has doing this drill.
As I mentioned earlier instead of actually spiking the ball all the time, smart hitters know when and how to mix up their attack hits.
If you go up to spike the ball every time you attack, then it’s easy for the other team to anticipate what you are going to do and easy to set up a defense strategy against you.
But if you mix up your shots, like tipping the ball on a good set then its harder for the opposing volleyball team to know how and when to defend your spikes and shots.
Olympian Brent Hilliard coach of the UC San Diego Toreros talks about several hitting volleyball drills he does in practice to teach his hitters how to make smart choices based on what they see the block do.
Another important spiking strategy to practice to make yourself hard to read is to learn how to spike to the deep corners of the court.
This is an effective skill for all volleyball players to learn, regardless of how tall you are.
In hitting drills in practice, by training to hit high, deep and long in the court, you train your body to automatically spike to the open areas of the court.
One of the best volleyball hitting drills, I use in practices and in our weekly Friday Night Lights Open gym at Stupak Community Center, that will help you spike to the deep corners of the court is to play deep court double or triples, or four players against four players in volleyball practice.
This also has to do with mixing up your shots.
To mix up your shots be prepared to to hit the imperfect out-of-system sets,and instead be ready to tip the good 'in-system" sets.
This doesn’t apply if you are spiking the ball against one blocker, if that’s the case then you should go ahead and spike the ball hard since you have the advantage.
But, in a transition play against a double block, if you get a good set, then consider tipping the ball.
Why? Because the defense is expecting you to spike the ball, because just like you see you've been given a great set, so do they!
So they expect you to hit it hard and there’s a good chance you will catch them leaning back on their heels waiting to absorb your hard hit.
On the other hand, if your setter sets you a high ball that’s a little off the net, since its your job as the outside hitter to hit everything, this is the imperfect set that you really want to spike.
As a spiker even after hours of volleyball hitting drills you can’t expect your setter to give you a perfect set every time you have to be ready to anticipate the need to move in case your setter doesn’t get the ball all the way outside to you.
You want to include in your hitting volleyball drills, reps that help you learn how to spike the ugly sets and tip the beautiful ones, so you become unpredictable in the front row.