What is a Spike in volleyball and how do you spike? (AVOID Doing This!)

Spiking or smashing is an important skill in volleyball. It is used during an attack and the goal is to push the ball over the net and make the ball touch the floor on the side of the opponent. Pushing the ball over the net and with enough force and precision can be a challenge. The opponent can also block your ball so you have to be prepared for this when you want to spike the ball. Your timing and technique have to be on point. This is why we are going to give a step-by-step explanation of what spiking is and how you can improve this skill. 

Steps in spiking. Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Visual-illustrations-of-a-spike-and-a-tip_fig1_343170635

How do you spike or slam a volleyball? Volleyball spike drills for beginners

Let’s see how Olympic athlete Jordan Larson explains how to boost your spike:

Step 1: Prepare yourself:

This step is not in the graph above. During this phase, you have to make sure that you are standing stable on both feet. Your team member will communicate that he or she will send the ball in your way. You also have to look at the ball, know the distance to the net. Next to this, you also have to see what the position is of the players on the opposite team. You have to take all of these things into account before you even start spiking. This is a step that a lot of people forget and it makes their spike worse. If you don’t know where the opponents are standing, you can’t find a hole in their defense. If you don’t stand stable, it is possible that you will slip instead of jump. All these details are very important. Often it is better to be patient and be sure of what is going on before jumping into action too quickly. It can feel weird to look and wait but it can improve your spike a lot. You shouldn’t wait too long as you still need to be able to push the ball over the net.

Your first two steps are generally quite slow. The two steps after this launch you in the air.

Step 2: Jumping

During this step, you will see that the ball is quite close to you. The goal is to hit it when it just starts to drop. This is the point when you can add the most force to the ball. You will bend your knees and then use this to push yourself in the air. Most players keep their legs behind their bodies so that they can use this to balance themselves. Jumping takes a lot of practice and requires that you wear the right shoes. You have to keep looking at the ball while you are going higher. Don’t focus on anything else but the ball and where your opponents are standing.

Make sure that you don’t touch the net as the other team will get a point for this. Once players start to get tired, they might also send the ball too low (in the net) or outside the court. This means that you will lose points. Attacking is very intense and you have to keep your focus up during the whole match.

Timing is essential and you have to make sure that you don’t jump too soon or too late. You will have to look at the ball and communicate with your team members to make sure that you get the ball in the right place. A few inches higher or lower can make a big difference as you might have to lean forward or backward to get the ball.

Step 3: Touching the ball

At this point, you are floating in the air and the ball is coming your way. You have to time the movement of your arm well. If you move your arm too early or too late, you might miss the ball and the attack could be over. If you hit the ball in the wrong way, it could hit the net. Therefore you have to make sure that you hit the ball at the moment that you can touch it. This will allow you to aim the ball in the desired direction.

If you want to use a lot of force, you can start swinging your arm later but this increases the chance that you might miss the ball. For newer players, it is often a good idea to use less force but to make sure that you are able to touch the ball instead. This is done by moving your arm closer to the ball before it is coming your way. This makes sure that you don’t have to move your arm that much anymore after you have jumped. Spiking happens quite fast and you don’t have a lot of time to think about what is going to happen. You have to be prepared and keep an eye on the ball at all times. If you are going to miss the ball, you can always ask a team member for assistance by shouting their name. In some instances, they can swoop in and continue the attack. 

Step 4: landing on your feet

The last step is important. You have to make sure that you land well. It is possible that the other team starts another attack immediately and if you fall on the ground, you might not be able to defend. It is possible that you have to block immediately after a spike. Therefore you can’t rest on your laurels just after a spike. You need to be prepared to take action again immediately after your attack. Volleyball is not a sport that gives you a lot of time to pause. If you scored a point, it might be great to high five or cheer with your team members. This makes sure that everyone on the team feels acknowledged because you needed them to score the point. Volleyball is a team sport and without them, you wouldn’t have had the great assist that you used to spike. Therefore you have to celebrate the point together.

You can also fake a spike and let the ball fly so that another person on your team can spike. This can be seen in the video below where one player jumps and pretends to go for the ball. This can distract the other team and make it easier for your team to score a point. This is a great move and more players should do it. Also, don’t do it too often as it can become too predictable after a while.

You can learn a lot about volleyball from the popular TV series Haikyuu as well. We have discussed Haikyuu here.

What is the difference between spiking and tipping?

Sometimes the ball is very close to the net and just a little push already gets it over the net. You can surprise your opponents by pushing the ball just over the net as they often expect that you will push it until the end of the court. Tipping is giving the ball a small nudge. Spiking is adding a lot of force to the ball. Both can work and you should try them so that your attacks don’t become too predictable. In both instances, you have to apply the right amount of force so that you don’t smash the ball in the net or outside the court. You can also only touch the ball once so make sure that you are able to do it well. Using your full hand is often better than just using your fingers as you can apply more force and precision with the palm of your hand. 

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Visual-illustrations-of-a-spike-and-a-tip_fig1_343170635

To conclude, we can state that spiking is an important skill that takes a lot of practice to master. You need to be able to assess the situation, jump at the right time, hit the ball at the right angle, and speed and land correctly. All of these steps need to be perfected if you want to score a lot of points. You can also use a tip instead of a spike. This makes your attack less predictable as you can push the ball far away or close by. 

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Visual-illustrations-of-a-spike-and-a-tip_fig1_343170635