Volleyball Spike Tips: 
Improve Your Spike Approach, Armswing and Hitting Accuracy

Develop Proper Hitting Technique, Increase Your Armswing Speed, Learn To Attack The Last Two Steps of Your Spike Approach and Improve Volleyball Hitting Accuracy

Admit it, the volleyball spike is the most fun part of the game.

Okay I said it. I got it over with. It's done.

You and I both know it's the part of the game that we really want to be good at.

We'd all love to hit a ball like Big 10 Player of the Year, Penn State, outside hitter Simone Lee.   


After you've learned how to spike a volleyball there's some kind of crazy satisfaction that hitters  get, when we take a good aggressive spike approach, make high contact with the ball at its highest point, and then spike the ball past the block into an open space on the opposing team's  court for a point.

Wisconsin outside hitter Lauryn Gillis talks about leaving her legacy as a Badger. 


Before you can spike the ball well,  you need to learn the commonly used hitting terminology all players know like 

Improve Your Volleyball Spike By
Learning How To Improve Your Volleyball Approach
What's A Spike Approach?

When an airplane is ready for take off, it makes its approach down the runway to gather speed and velocity so that it can lift itself up in the air.

Well, a player learns to do the same thing, before they can hit a ball and before they begin to initiate their volleyball spike technique. 

Volleyball Spike Approach Steps

The spike approach is a set number of steps, usually a three-step approach or a four-step approach that a player makes to gather the speed and gain forward momentum needed to get herself in the air to make contact with the ball at its highest point.  

Learning  How To Improve Your Volleyball Approach

The Four-step approach

The four-step approach gives outside hitters more time to get to balls that are set higher and are slower to get to the outsides of the net.  

Higher sets are considered slower sets but are used with high jumping hitters to beat the opposing block with a high reach, great vertical jump and using a lot of power. 

The higher, the hitter can jump, and then the higher they can reach..the better. 

This means the ball is contacted at a higher point in the air where hopefully the block cannot reach. 

The Three-step approach

The three-step approach is used more often for faster sets that are set lower to the net that quick athletic hitters use with a quick armswing and fast swing to beat the block. 

These faster and lower sets are used to beat the block with speed. 

The faster, the hitter can jump, and then the faster they can swing..the better. 

This means the ball is contacted at a lower point in the air above the net, but is contacted at a faster speed where hopefully the block cannot reach. 

This Kansas State hitter perfectly demonstrates how to spike a volleyball using a three-step spike approach. 

She's a right handed hitter so she steps on her left foot first ...which she uses to propel her closer to where she wants to contact the ball...this is her directional step...and this should be the slower step she takes...

The last two steps...(right foot then left foot) occur almost simultaneously..and should be the fastest, most aggressive steps in the entire spike approach because these are the steps that propel her upward and into the air, helping her contact the ball at her highest possible contact point above the net. 

Learn How to Develop Proper Volleyball Hitting Technique With These Volleyball Spike Specifics 

You will then spike the ball over the net, past the block and to the floor before a back row defensive player can get it up.

The speed and length of a spike approach can change depending on what play and what kind of set a player receives.

Your spike approach length can also change if you are playing in a crowded volleyball tournament that doesn't have a lot of space between courts. 

In this situation you may be forced to change from a four step to a three step approach.

What should never change for a spiker is the aggressiveness of and speed of the last two steps of the spike approach. 

When I coach the volleyball spike approach, I ask my players to "attack the floor" with their last two steps.  

I tell them to treat the floor as if its a trampoline and be aggressive in attacking the last two steps..the more aggressive, the more you increase your vertical jump. 

The higher your vertical and the higher you reach..the better chance you have of outreaching the block. 

Specific Steps On How To Spike A Ball...You Need To Use An Aggressive Volleyball Spike Approach

In a four step approach, once you've made the first two steps of your spike approach that get you closer to the ball, you then  start your arm swing motion, swinging both arms back ..before swinging them both forward. 

Both arms swing forward at the same time the last two steps are taken which lifts you into the air, like a plane that has taken off at the end of the runway. 

In the air, you pull back the elbow of your hitting arm, keeping it above the level of her ear while the arm is above her head.

Holding your elbow high and using a bow and arrow type movement to make contact with the ball so that it clears the net, you bring your hitting arm forward so it contacts the top third of the ball. 

Proper Hitting Technique:
Upper Body Volleyball Spike Requirements

The components of a good hard volleyball spike are...:

  • a fast arm swing rotation with a 
  • a high reach keeping the elbow high along with 
  • contacting the top third of the ball ...all combines to 

...create a high paced hit with a downward trajectory that sends the ball into the opposing court with force and intensity.

Its important when you spike the ball that your hand makes contact on the TOP third of the ball, if not (like you see in the video) then your spiked ball will not have a downward trajectory into the court, but instead will go sailing long towards the back wall and out of the court. 

Volleyball Hitting: What's An Attack?

Left Handed Spiker Attack HitLeft Handed Spiker Attack Hit

An 'attack hit' is an attempt by a player on the offensive team, to get the ball into the opponent's court either with an aggressive volleyball spike or a slower offspeed but strategic touch on the ball called  a tip.

The speed and power of an attack is dictated not only by the spike approach but moreso by the speed of the armswing rotation

A faster armswing rotation usually produces a more powerful hit. Strong hitters have fast armswing rotations.  

Below is the volleyball hitting drill I send players home to do as homework ..they do this to specifically work on increasing the speed of their armswing rotation for their spike swing.

Now you can do it too. Check out how Pat Powers - Mens US Olympic Gold medalist teaches this important spiking volleyball drill...

Types of Volleyball Spikes:
What's a Kill?

When a player successfully attack hits a ball for a point or a sideout against their opponents then that action is marked on the stat sheet as a kill.

A kill can be a hard driven spike or a soft touch dink or an off speed ball, but as long as it gets past the block and hits the floor without the opposing team being able to play or pick it up, then the "attack hit" is called a "kill,"

What's A Dink?
The Dink Is A Form Of Volleyball Spike Attack

A spiker doesn't always have to hit a ball hard to make a kill or score a point or hideout for their team.

You have the option of dinking or tipping the ball into the opponent's court In indoor volleyball, a female player can open their hand and contact the ball with the pads of their fingertips to push it over or past the block.

Before contacting the ball, you would use your normal spike approach before attacking the ball but during your armswing, your armswing rotation is not quite as fast since you dont plan on hitting the ball hard. 

Which of course, leads me to explain what the "cobra" is.

Volleyball Spike: What's a Cobra?

Used mainly by beach players, who use their knuckles to do a closed fist tip, either short in the court or deep, that directs the ball into an open area in the opposing team's court.

In your beach practice drills a great skill to work on is to use the cobra shot to tool the block.

How To Play Volleyball: Where Do you Go From Here?

No need to guess where you need to go now? Here are three options: 

  1. Learn more about Blocking.
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page    Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
  3. Or visit the pages in the How to Play Volleyball section in the drop down menu at the top of the page to get started. 
  4. Before leaving this page Say "Hi" to Mr T.T. MUGB the Lion, wearing the #7 jersey below. 

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