How do you get better at volleyball fast? Learn the MOST important skills in volleyball.

As a volleyball coach, I often get the same question ‘how do you get better at volleyball fast’. I always tell them that this is the wrong question to ask as it makes you fall for tricks and short-term solutions. You should ask ‘how do you get really good at volleyball’. There is no magic bullet when it comes to volleyball. You need to have a combination of a lot of skills, speed, and agility. There are exercises that can help you with this but all of these will take time and won’t make you better overnight. A lot of volleyball players have been playing for several years before they finally feel that they are good at it. Things take time and you shouldn’t fall for short-term solutions as these will disappoint you. Focus on improving every day over trying to get quick fixes.

Volleyball has 5 important skills that you have to master if you want to get great at it. Digging, setting, serving, passing and blocking are all needed skills to be a volleyball player.

So how do you get better at volleyball? We have to split this topic up into offensive and defensive movements.

Getting better at offense

The offense has several movements that you need to get good: serving, passing, setting, and smashing. You will have to improve these if you want to score more points. The good news is that there is some overlap between these skills so as you get better at one of them, you will improve the other one as well.

Serving: throwing the ball over the net

Serving restarts the game. You have to stand outside the field and get the ball over the net. The ball can touch the net but should get over it to the field of the opponent. You have to practice jumping, ball handling, and coordination to be able to do this. You have 2 tries before you lose your turn. Therefore it is better that you are able to do it the first time. Serving is quite easy to practice as you just need a ball and a net. You can go to your training session 5 minutes earlier and practice this before anyone arrives.

Controlling the speed and direction of the ball is really important if you want to get good at this. If you hit the ball too hard, it can go outside and you can lose your turn as well. Professional players see weak points in the defense of the other players and are able to serve the ball in that direction. This requires tactical insights that you will only gain after playing a lot. Not a lot of players are able to serve with that much precision so don’t worry if you are not able to do this at this point in time. 

Setting: giving an assist

Setting can be compared with giving an assist. You make sure that your team member is able to get the ball over the net. This requires the right height, speed, and force. You also have to communicate with your team member to make sure that they know that the ball will go in their direction. You have to practice the stability of your feet, ball-handling technique, and communication skills to get this right. This is quite similar to passing but is often done by an overhands pass instead of an underhand pass.

This requires a lot of communication with your team members as you have to receive the ball from another person and then you have to pass it to another player on your team. If you misread what they expect, you are going to make it a lot harder for yourself or the other players. Volleyball is a team sport and you have to get really good at reading the signals of the other players. Based on their body language you can see if they are confident or not. If you feel that they are hesitating, make sure that your pass is easy to catch. You can also look at the position of their hands to try to predict where the ball will land. This requires a lot of focus and attention. You have to be present in the moment itself. A lot of players are distracted during a game and they drop the ball (literally and figuratively). 

Therefore it is important that you find out how you can relax before a game. For some people this is going for a walk, for others, it is talking, some players take a shower to get in the zone. Find what makes you focussed as you will need this if you want to get great at setting. 

Smashing or spiking: attacking

Smashing is scoring a point after you have received an assist (see setting). Once again this requires jumping and ball handling. You have to anticipate where the ball is going to get and hit it at just the right moment. You can throw the ball in the air yourself to practice this or ask a friend to help you out. Be sure that you pay attention to your technique so that you hit the ball in the right manner. You can focus on force to make the ball go very fast or you can focus on giving the ball a special effect to surprise your opponents.

Try these two options and see what playing style works for you. Both are viable ways to attack and can help to score your points. The problem is that the smashes of a lot of players are too predictable and this makes it easy to defend. If you don’t use force or don’t add effect to the ball, your smash will not have its desired effect and your opponents will be able to attack again. Be sure to pick one of these two and keep practicing it until you get it perfected. 

Defensive drills

Defensive players have to be able to block the ball and dive to get the ball. Players that are very good at passing and diving (or digging), can become a libero. A libero is a player that is able to replace other players at the last row on the field. They are very good at defending.

How to get good at blocking the ball.

Blocking means that you stop the ball at the net when your opponents want to get the ball over the net. This makes sure that their attack is being stopped immediately as the ball goes back to their part of the court. It can be a challenge to get better at this. You have to practice jumping and also see when people are going to attack and where the ball is going. The latter can only be learned by joining a lot of matches and getting an idea of how the ball will behave. You can look at the body language of the opponent to see when they are going to attack. If they tense up, start moving their arm and look very directly at the ball, it is very likely that they will attack.

At that point, you can move closer to the net so that you can block the ball. It requires a lot of coordination to get this right as you can’t just touch the net. You can ask a friend to throw the ball over the net slowly and this will give you an idea of how you can block. Once you get better at this, your friend can throw the ball harder and faster over the net. Timing your jump and block requires a lot of experience and it can take several months before you get this just right. Don’t be too hard on yourself as even professional volleyball players miss a block from time to time. 

How do you get better at diving and passing in volleyball?

Diving to get a ball (this is often called digging) can be hard to practice but it is essential that you get good at this as it happens a lot during a match. This requires reflexes, speed, and agility and is something that you have to train. You can ask another person to throw the ball and you can dive to get this. If you have multiple balls, you can perform a lot of repetitions of this exercise quite fast. If you don’t have a friend to help you out, you can throw the ball in front of you and dive to keep it up. You can start by throwing the ball close by so that it is easy to catch. Once you get the hang of this, you can start throwing it farther and farther away until you feel that you are able to catch it from multiple angles and from a big enough distance. 

Sometimes you need to get closer to the ball. This is done by diving. Let’s take a look at the best technique to do this.

You have to catch the ball and pass it to your team member at the same time.  Make sure that your technique is on point so that your team members can receive the ball without having to bend too much. Ball control entails that you can keep the ball in the air, send it in the right direction, at the right angle, and with the correct speed. All of these elements require practice and you will have to spend a lot of time repeating this. Make sure that you have a volleyball with the same weight and size as you use during a match to practice this as a different ball can give you the wrong reflexes. 

How can I get better at volleyball in a week

One week is a very short period of time to get better at volleyball. You will want to train every day for more than four hours if you really want to improve. You should ask your coach what your weak points are and find some drills that work with this. Repeat these over and over again. You can invite some friends to encourage you and catch the ball so that you don’t have to run after it. A lot of getting better at volleyball is muscle memory. If you repeat the five basic skills (digging, serving, setting, blocking, and spiking) over and over again, you will get better at them.

The problem is that a lot of people don’t want to put in this type of effort as it can get boring after a while. If you want to get better at volleyball in one week, I would pick one of these five skills and repeat the same drills over and over again. This will make sure that you know how to do this. You can start slowly and make sure that your technique is on point. Once you have mastered this, you can speed up the drills. If you can play faster in volleyball, you will score a lot of points as you can surprise your opponent. For this reason, you can improve one of the five skills during a week and get a lot better at volleyball. Always check with your coach to see what input he or she has.

Don’t expect miracles after one week as there are a lot of nuances such as timing, communication, reaction time and so on that need to be improved over months and years. It is possible to improve your skill level during one week if you are really dedicated to this. You often need a reason to do this (for example an upcoming tryout, someone that told you that you wouldn’t be able to do it, and so on). Find out what motivates you and use this energy to push you through difficult moments.

To conclude, we can say that it takes time to get better at volleyball. Some players believe that a new trend or a new trick will magically improve their game. This is not the case and it takes years of practice to get really good at passing, serving, digging, and other offensive and defensive movements. Be consistent and try to improve your skills every day. Some drills can help you out a lot and you can ask your coach what exercises can improve your weak points. Don’t expect magical outcomes as you will have to repeat these over and over again for several hours before you start to see improvements.