Volleyball Skills

Instructor: Sharon Linde
You may have played volleyball at the last church social, but if you want to be more competitive at the sport you will need to learn and practice the five basic volleyball shots. This lesson describes the shots you will need to know to be the king of the court.

Overview of Volleyball

Charlie tells his new friend and neighbor Jermaine about wanting to play volleyball on the high school team. 'I don't know if you are going to be able to make the team, Charlie,' Jermaine says. 'You're a great athlete, but you just moved here and didn't play volleyball before. At the very minimum, you'll have to get the five basic shots down to stand a chance, and you've only got five days!'

Charlie does some quick math in his head. 'Well, that means you could coach me on one shot a day. You're a great teacher and you know I'm a fast learner!'

'I think you're crazy, but let's give it a try!' decides Jermaine. 'In order, you will need to learn to serve, block, forearm pass, overhand pass and spike. First lesson will be on the beach 30 minutes after school,' says a laughing Jermaine.

Volleyball Serve

The first thing to teach Charlie is the serve. For this, one team begins the play with a player standing at the back line and hitting the ball to the opposing team's side. A few minutes into the first session, Charlie is having trouble with this and asks his new teacher, 'Why do I keep hitting the ball into the net?'

'The problem is you just started serving overhand five minutes ago and you haven't learned the proper technique yet. Let's go over the steps for right-handed servers:

  • toss the ball overhead with your left hand;
  • step forward with your left foot, making sure it stays behind the line;
  • using your right hand, hit through the middle of the ball with a straight wrist and open hand.'

A player serves the ball from the back line.
serve

Charlie, being new to the sport, has issues with each step. The toss is a little low and slightly too far forward. He's not stepping far enough, and the ball spins because he's snapping his wrist. But Jermaine is a good and patient teacher, and by the end of the session most of Charlie's serves are landing on the opposing team's side with some speed to them.

Volleyball Block

The next day they work on the block, a move used at the net to prevent the opposing team from hitting the ball over. Jermaine starts by explaining, 'We don't have enough time to work on advanced techniques. We're just going to go over the form of single-player blocks once you know where the ball is going to be hit.' He then explains the steps for a proper block:

  • time the jump so you reach maximum height just as the spiker makes contact with the ball;
  • keep your arms straight and hands open;
  • angle your arms slightly over the net and slightly towards the inside of the opponent's court;
  • make sure to land on your side of the net without touching it.

'What you're trying to do is take away as much angle of the spiker as possible, while also sending the ball back onto the opponent's side of the court.'

Twenty minutes later Charlie complains, 'I'm getting tired from jumping and my arms sting from where you keep hitting the ball into me.'

'Do you want to make the team or not?' asks Jermaine. 'Your jump and arm angles look good, but you are still landing in the net too often. Let's do another 10 minutes and call it a day.'

Volleyball Forearm Pass

The next day the boys work on the forearm pass, a move used to receive a serve and get the ball to the front line for a hit. Jermaine sets up the situation: 'You served the ball and then the opponent's return comes to you. You have to pass the ball to the setter with your forearms.'

Jermaine then goes over proper form for a forearm pass:

  • keep your wrists together and all fingers crossed;
  • start with your arms straight and pointing towards the ground at an angle;
  • adjust your arms to the desired angle just before contact;
  • initially bend your knees, but straighten them out to provide more power as you make contact with the ball.

The next few minutes see the ball careening in all different directions, but the athletic Charlie is able to quickly learn the technique. After an hour Jermaine calls it quits for the day. 'You're picking this up faster than anyone I've seen. Most people take months to get that down!'

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