How to get faster reflexes for volleyball: how to improve your reaction times and get an edge

Reflexes are very important in volleyball. The difference between catching the ball and dropping it is often only a few seconds. If you move slightly faster, you will be able to catch the ball way more often. Therefore it is important to make sure that you have good reflexes.

This is not something that is often trained so in this post we will discuss some practical ways in which you can improve your reflexes. This can only be improved by training so you will have to perform the discussed techniques to make sure that you improve.

The traditional way of practicing your reflexes

Training on reflexes is traditionally done by a coach that says that you have to go left or right in quick succession. After a while, you get overwhelmed but you have to keep your head cool and focus on the instructions so that you can change direction in an instant. 

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Another way that this is trained is by throwing balls. The trainer has a stack of balls and throws these in a random direction. You have to be quick and make sure that you catch the ball before it hit the ground. This simulates what happens during a match so it is a great exercise as you are training your technique at the same time.

The challenge is that you can’t do this for the whole team at the same time as you would need a lot of balls. This is why the exercise is not performed that often. Coaches often also don’t realize the importance of training your reflexes and focus more on ball handling instead. 

Other than this, your reflexes are also being trained over years of playing volleyball. This is not the most efficient way to improve your reaction speed but it is the most common approach to do this. 

You can also use a ball launch machine to add unexpected trajectories to the ball. You then have to catch the ball. Since you can adjust the speed of these, it is possible to create a challenging workout. These machines are very expensive though so not a lot of clubs have them. They also require quite a lot of maintenance so it is more targeted at professional volleyball players than a younger audience. 

The new way of improving your reflexes: reduce your reaction time

Recently a new way to train your reflexes has arrived. This uses lights that change to give an indication of what move you have to make. There are a lot of exercises and you can download more through the app that connects with them. All these exercises keep it fresh and challenging. You can also start quite slow and turn up the speed.

This will make sure that beginners can use them but also people that already have good reflexes. This system has a lot of positive reviews so people seem to agree that it is a great way to train your reflexes.

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The great thing about these is that you can measure your hit rate and see your progress over time. What gets measured, gets improved. This data is very valuable as it can give you an edge over the competition. Cheaper systems just offer the lights without the feedback of the system that offers insights into how well you did.

The main drawback of this system is that you have to charge the batteries. If you forgot this, it is not possible to train with them. You also have to have your smartphone with you to control them. These systems are still quite new so they have some teething issues such as having to reconnect from time to time. They also require an investment. 

Not a lot of sports clubs own such a system at this point in time so it can be your hidden weapon that allows you to react much faster than other players. Especially if you want to make the team or want to partake in the tryouts or other competitions, this can be a great product to have. You shouldn’t expect miracles from it but it can help you to keep your focus on the ball and to react faster if it comes your way. 

They come in a box of 4 lights. You might want to consider buying more to keep the challenges more difficult over time but it is a great way to get started. Other systems offer more lights in the box but they cost more to get started. 

You will also improve hand-eye coordination if you work with these, which is another critical volleyball skill. You have to trust your vision if you want to be able to hit the ball. If you get better at predicting when you should hit a ball, you will score a lot of points. This can take quite some getting used to but can improve fast with the correct training techniques. Speed is essential if you want to improve this and therefore these pods are perfect for this. 

If the above system is too expensive, you can also start out with cheaper lights. These don’t connect to your smartphone or offer as much variety but are a great way to get started if you want to improve your reaction times. You can also set the different difficulty levels. This product is waterproof so even if you sweat a lot, it should work. The system is lightweight so easy to bring with you and you have to think less about charging batteries. 

It can also be a great supplement to the previously discussed systems as your hand movements have to be different. If you perform the same exercise over and over again, it will get quite monotonous and you won’t evolve that fast. This is why it is a good idea to switch it up from time to time. 

Since you throw this product in the air, you can also train your non-dominant hand to become stronger. A lot of players have one strong hand and one that is weaker. You should be sure that you improve both over time but this is often forgotten. This product will increase your confidence in both hands so that your volleyball technique gets better as well. 

Reaction time is the time it takes you to react to something. Reflexes are reacting fast to something that happens. They are not completely the same but if you can reduce your reaction time, you should react better to unexpected movements.

You will need to repeat the same volleyball drills over and over again so that you have the right position when the ball comes your way. Training your reflexes is done by reducing your reaction time and also having the correct hand position. Therefore you need to combine the previous drills with the standard volleyball drills.

Why is reaction time important in volleyball?

We discussed several ways to improve your reaction speed and reflexes. Why are these so important in volleyball? As you get better at volleyball, the pace at which it is being played will increase dramatically. In beginner leagues, you have a lot of time to see what will happen as players need time to control the ball and communicate with team members. Once you start to level up, you will notice that attacks can progress very fast.

If a team has played together for a while, they are able to do so in the blink of an eye. If someone passes to you, you have to be ready to receive the ball and already know to whom you are going to pass it. This means that you need to react very fast if you want to play a role in the attack.

Also, when you want to defend, you will need to react very quickly if you want to keep the ball in the air. For example, if you need to dig (or dive) to get the ball, you can’t start running too late or you won’t be able to get the ball. A few seconds can make a big difference here as you don’t have a lot of time to catch the ball.

Reflexes can help you to get started faster. It is therefore surprising that not a lot of players are training this part of the game. Preparation leads to results. You don’t have to train this every day but a weekly training session can help you improve these skills rapidly.

To conclude we can state that training your reflexes is essential if you want to get good at volleyball. Reacting just a few seconds later to the ball can make the difference between winning and losing. There are a lot of new systems out there that will help you with improving this. Therefore you might want to take a look at these.

Not a lot of coaches are already using them so you can create an edge for yourself as your skills can get a lot better than these of other players. Don’t expect miracles as it will take a lot of time and work to improve these skills but you can make noticeable progress. The great thing about these is that you can measure your reaction speeds and see how they evolve over time.