Spiking (also called smashing) is an essential part of playing volleyball. This is an offensive maneuver where you push the ball over the net. Your team members often pass the ball just in the right position and height so that you can spike the ball. A good assist is therefore essential if you want to spike the ball. Even if you get a great assist, it is still possible to miss the point. This can frustrate the other players on your team as they often expect that you will score at that point. Let’s make sure that this never happens to you again.
There are several components when it comes to spiking. All of these elements have an impact on the outcome of your spike. Therefore you have to master all of them if you want to become great at spiking. One element can throw off your attack and result in a lost point.
Let’s see how an Olympic medal winner approaches this type of attack:
Form: get your technique right
Spiking takes several steps. You start on the ground and eventually you jump and place your hand behind your head. Once the ball arrives, you can use that hand to push the ball forward. This should change the direction of the ball and also add force to it. Therefore you have to make sure that you hit the ball at the right point in time. It is also essential that you hit the ball with a stretched-out hand. You can’t do so with your fist. If you only hit the ball with a part of your hand, you won’t be able to add enough momentum to it. Therefore it is important that you perfect your form so that you can jump high enough and hit the ball at the right angle, with the right force, and at the perfect moment.
You can practice your form by just mimicking the movement without a ball. If you film yourself using a phone, it is easy to see how your body moves during each step of the spike. Make sure that you perform every step similar as in the image below. You can train this for several days in this manner to make sure that your form is exactly as below.
Once you have mastered this, you can ask a friend to pass the ball in your direction. He or she can make it easy and pass the ball in the right location. To keep it challenging, they can also send the ball in a different direction so that you have to run before you start spiking. In a volleyball match, not every assist will be perfect and you have to prepare for this as well. In fact, quite a lot of assists make it challenging to spike. If you don’t train for this, you will miss a lot of opportunities.
Sometimes you don’t have a friend around and you still want to practice your spike. This can be difficult as the ball is flying quite far away and running after it can cost you a lot of time. If you want to practice this on your own, you can also use this product of Puredrop. This will help you to practice your timing and form. Don’t hit the ball at full force as it uses an elastic to bring the ball back.. This product will help you to save time and improve your spiking technique as you can practice a lot faster. It has great reviews and players seem to love the convenience of it.
Timing: when to hit the ball
When you start jumping and when you hit the ball has a big impact on your spike. You should jump as high as possible so that you can easily touch the ball. Furthermore, you should hit the ball at the point when it is falling down in your direction. If the ball is still going up when you hit it, you might aim too far and the ball might fall outside of the field.
Getting your timing exactly right is very challenging as you have to wait for the perfect moment to jump. A lot of players get too excited and jump too early. They then are not able to reach the ball anymore. Waiting is something that professional players really master.
Aim: send it in the right direction
It is really important that you aim the ball in the right direction. Often other teams have a weak point in their defense. It might take some attacks before you find it but once you do, it is possible to exploit this over and over again. You need good aim to be able to do this. What is a good aim?
Being able to send the ball in the direction that you expected. Some professional players are able to aim the ball within inches of the expected direction. This takes a lot of practice and patience.
The position of your hand has a big impact on the movement of the ball. If you turn your hand slightly, it can land in a completely different location. You will have to try different approaches to see what works for you. Often it is best to hit the ball with the palm of your hand.
The defense can move so it is useful if you can change your aim in an instance. For example, if someone sets a step forwards or backward, this can leave a hole in their defense. YOu have to look at the ball but also at the opponent when you want to get your aim just right. This i s for advanced players as most beginners are happy that they got the ball over the net already but can help you to score a lot of points.
Some players make a fake to surprise the opponent. They then leave the ball for another player or use their other arm to hit the ball anyway. Check with your coach if this is allowed in your competition before trying it.
The following exercise can help you with your aim. In the video below it is shown for serving but can be done for spiking as well. You are standing in a line behind the net. There is a basket and you have to ain the ball in it. The basket is moving around so that you can aim at several targets. The player that has the most balls in the net at the end of the exercise, wins the game.
Force: hit the ball hard enough
The volleyball court is not that big. You have to make sure that the ball does not get out of bounds. Especially if you aim the ball sideways, you have to be careful that you don’t hit the ball too hard as the field is quite small in width.
You have to calibrate to see what amount of force is right for your type of attack. A lot of players want to hit the ball too hard and aim at the end of the field. It can be surprising if you hit the beginning of the field as the opponent often doesn’t expect this. Often it is better to hit the ball too soft than too hard, as long as you get the ball over the net.
As discussed before, beach volleyballs are bigger and therefore require a different amount of force than indoor volleyballs if you want to score a point.
When to do it
If you want to spike, you will need a good assist. This is often only possible after 2 ball touches. At that point, you need to get the ball over the net. If you feel that you have a good chance of scoring a point when you spike, you should apply this technique. A good assist is high enough and also is close enough to the net. It can be challenging if you have to spike from a big distance of the net as you are sending the ball in a downwards trajectory. The ball also shouldn’t drop too fast so that you have time to jump and hit the ball. It is therefore not always possible to spike on every ball that you get.
To conclude, we can state that spiking is an essential skill in volleyball. We have discussed some techniques and methods to improve your spiking attack. If you train this consistently, you will see that you will make a lot of improvement. There are a lot of things that you need to finetune if you want to get great at spiking and it can take several months or even years before you get fully confident about this.