How to Spike a Volleyball

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If you play volleyball, you have seen a spike being performed. This attack sends an almost unstoppable ball to the opponents. Knowing how to spike a volleyball is crucial and all players should be able to do it. 

How to Spike a Volleyball

Completing a successful spike on a ball is a game-changer factor that could easily define a game. Even though this attack requires a lot of brute force, it is not the only factor that influences it. You have to be really accurate when it comes to the little details.

Players fighting over a ball during a volleyball game

To fully conquer the spike, you need to learn the correct technique and follow the right methodology. This goes from the timing of your jump to the number of steps you take. Even your arm swing is important.

Assume the Correct Position and Stance

Due to the rules of volleyball, you need to be a front-row player to perform a spike. That being said, this movement is often started by positioning yourself right behind the attack line. You can stand further back if you have a greater reach when it comes to your strides.

For your stance, you need to slightly bend the knees and face the ball. You need to be ready to quickly move while avoiding momentum as much as possible. This applies to every player. However, some things may change depending on which hand is your dominant one.

For instance, if you are left-handed, you need to keep your right foot back, while having your left one forward, and vice versa. If you’re right-handed, keep your left foot back, and the right one forward. Keep in mind that you will be taking the first step with your non-dominant foot.

Find the Best Space

When you’re in the attacking zone, you need to seek the best space. This will allow you to approach and easily shoot the ball. Think about it as a path. When your teammate is setting the ball, you need to quickly create this “path” that will enable you to be more effective.

The whole purpose of this is to make it easier for your dominant hand. When you envision this path, you need to create the space where you can safely spike. 

For instance, if you’re right-handed and currently positioned on the left side, you will have to previously take enough distance. This way, you will be able to efficiently contact the balls the setter sends you.

Player aiming to spike a ball against the competing team in an outdoor game

Know the Types of Footwork

There are three approaches when it comes to footwork. Some are more difficult than others but provide different benefits for each attack.

  • Two steps: Step with your right foot first, then follow with your left foot (and vice versa for left-handed people). This is mostly used by beginners and it allows them to quickly learn the pattern.
  • Three steps: Step with your right foot first, follow with your left foot, and end with your right foot (and vice versa).This allows you to quickly establish where you want to go.
  • Four steps: Step with your right foot first, then hop with your left foot, follow with your right one, and conclude with a jump using your left foot (and vice versa). This gives you more time and allows you to build more power. 

Sync Your Movements and Get the Right Timing

This is one of the most important parts of the process. You need to sync your footwork and your movements to reach the ball at the best time possible. To achieve this, you should take your first step slowly, then build up the speed until you reach the last step.

This will not only help you visualize where the volleyball is, but also where you want to send it, and how you’re going to reach it. If you don’t do it, you will have problems when trying to sync yourself with the ball. It could lead you to completely miss the target.

Lastly, just like you should go from slow to fast, you should go from small to big. You need to take small steps first and then turn them into big leaps. This also applies to your energy. You want to start slow and relaxed and finish very fast and explosive.

Control Your Jump

As we mentioned before, you want to avoid any kind of momentum that drives you towards the net. Also, you want to go as high as possible and effectively hit the ball. The way you jump allows you to control this. Here are some tips:

Player aiming to spike a ball against the competing team
  • When taking the last step, square your feet, and jump upwards. This gives you more stability and stops the momentum towards the net.
  • Try to keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Use your arm swings to pull your body upwards. This will also help you jump higher.
  • Try to keep your body diagonal to the net.
  • Be explosive and fast. 

Learn the Types of Swings

There are five different types of swings, each with their own unique characteristics: 

  • Straight: When jumping, both of your arms should go as high as possible. When fully stretched, the elbow of the hitting arm should go back. Yet, don’t go too far, if you do, your shoulder might get overworked and it could lead to an injury.
  • Bow and Arrow High: This one is similar to the straight swing, but you need to have your elbow back before the arms are fully stretched.
  • Bow and Arrow Low: This one is a variation. It starts the same, your arms should go as high as possible and you should have your dominant elbow back. Yet, the final position should have your elbow at the same height as your shoulder.
  • Snap: When your wrists get to shoulder height, your attacking elbow should be already going back. The final position should have your wrist and elbow at shoulder height.
  • Circular: Your attacking elbow should be going back before your wrist reaches shoulder height. The final position should have your elbow and wrist below, or at the same height as your shoulder. This one is faster and avoids injuries.

Conclusion

Every volleyball player needs to know how to correctly spike. After all, this movement is essential when it comes to attacking. Also, when it is fully mastered, it could be one of the most valuable techniques. Use it correctly, and you will score a lot of points.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.