I came across an article that aims to help players become more powerful spikers. It offers six steps to doing so. They are as follows.

  1. Learn to miss
  2. Abuse a wall
  3. Timing is everything
  4. Use your body to generate power
  5. Align the ball with your shoulder
  6. Follow all the way through

I generally don’t have a major problem with what the author (Coach Maddi) says. In fact, #1 is something that probably doesn’t get enough attention. That’s on the subject of being willing to accept errors. It’s really easy to get caught up in the mechanics and to forget the mentality required to train for power.

I have written about my problems with hitting against a well. I do think it can be useful in very limited and controlled fashion, though. This also applies to hitting off a box. The idea is to get the player to understand what the skill requires, then to immediately get them hitting off a live set.

Another minor issue I have comes in #6 where the author says “Stopping your arm as soon as you have contacted the ball is a major mistake. Doing so will rob the swing of power and flatten the ball out.” This is simply an incorrect statement. Nothing actually matters after ball contact because said contact has already determined the power and direction of the spike.

That’s not why we want players to follow through. We want them to do so because it’s the natural inclination of the shoulder joint, and trying to stop it will cause undesirable strain. Also, if we are trying to stop our hand on contact then we are probably decelerating our hand as we approach contact. Not good for power.

As Tom Tait said in his Volleyball Coaching Wizards interview, we basically want our hitters to “throw” their arm through the ball to generate maximum velocity (see more about teaching players to throw early on).

Don’t forget the approach!

Minor quibbles aside, I do have one major thing I think was left out of the article. That’s the approach. It is the starting point for everything else. A good, explosive approach feeds into the torso rotation we want, which then rolls into the whipping action we want in the arm swing.

Gold Medal Squared teaches a 4-step approach, while others favor the 3-step version. I honestly don’t have a strong opinion on the subject. For me there are three major factors in a good approach.

  • Slow to Fast – slow first step (or steps), fast last two
  • High to Low – start fairly tall, but knees bent on the last two step
  • Strong double-arm lift

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

    1 Response to "Coaching hitters to get powerful swings"

    • Gary Foreman

      Power comes from opening up the hitting shoulder thus complete follow through and snap is ideal. Also allows the hitter to hit line, middle, or cross. Take the non hitting hand to the belly on the way down to prevent throwing the balance off.

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