When you’re trying to get better at any new volleyball skill, it simply requires a lot of practice. According to leading experts on mastery, becoming an expert at anything takes around 10,000 hours of practice. Before you think, “Woah! That’s a lot of time!” consider how long it took you to practice your penmanship, play video games, or even learn how to swim. You can become “good” at just about anything with around 100 hours of practice. Think about how long it took you to learn to ride a bike; probably not even 100 hours!
Now, while putting in hours is tremendously helpful, it’s not the whole picture. Just doing the thing isn’t enough to get you to where you usually want to go. Becoming good, great, and then excellent at any skill demands attention and focus. Just like with any new skill you might be training, learning the nuances, rules, new perspectives, and asking for help will take you there. Volleyball practices are usually designed to make you attempt skills, patterns, plays, or movements that are new to you.
Whenever a new volleyball skill is implemented there are a few things you can do to improve them:
- 7 Keys to become a better volleyball player
- Crucial volleyball skills you need to develop
- Learning the systems & positions in volleyball
7 Keys to become a better volleyball player
1. Ask questions
The first one is quite obvious. Make sure you understand both the function and purpose of the skill you’d like to improve. Asking questions will help your brain make sense of the new skill or even an old skill in a way that makes sense to you. Fully understanding what is being asked of you will help you with the other steps! Being open to feedback is the number one key to improving your game. Asking makes you a proactive learner and player instead of a passive one.
Watch lots of volleyball games
Secondly, asking for a demonstration will help visual learners understand what to do with their bodies. Most volleyball players at a high level will be able to at least try something new after watching it a few times. If you’re brand new to the sport, watching lots of volleyball games can be useful to see how people move their bodies. Try paying attention to the little details, like where the setter takes the ball in relation to their body, how defenders move into position, and even the steps that attackers take before hitting the ball. Improving your game can be done by simply watching others do it.
2. Train at home
Demonstrations are predecessors to actually trying the skill yourself. Watching game-film of yourself and even live games is useful, but only so if you’re willing to try the skill, too. Sometimes you may look like an idiot, but set aside your pride and go for it! Sports are meant to be fun and improving your game is dependent on getting outside of your comfort zone.
Take videos of yourself
Next up, take videos of yourself. Sometimes even if you feel like you’re doing the right thing, it might not be. Ask a teammate or coach to take some videos of you performing the skill you’re trying to improve. Rewatch them to see if you’re doing it correctly. Self-correction is a great tool for any player to be able to implement. This also ties in with body awareness. It doesn’t take being the best volleyball player in the world to feel when your body does the wrong thing.
3. Read self improvement books
You should be reading. Period. It does matter what you read, too. When I was in University I my head coach required us all to do summer reading. Frankly, I think it was one of the best tools he could have given us when we were in our off season. I fell in love with the genre of personal growth books. We had the option to read all kinds of books – leadership positions, success stories, self-improvement, habits and more.
I recommend reading to get to know yourself a bit better. Many books can tell you how to improve your life, relationships, and yourself. All of which relate to how you see yourself on the volleyball court. Getting better at volleyball isn’t limited to physical things, it’s a combination of body and mind.
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4. Work smart
Everyone knows that working hard is a sign of someone who is passionate. But take it from me, being a hard worker isn’t the end game. I spent years of volleyball frustrated by being the hardest worker on the court – but I was rarely the smartest. That’s not to say I wasn’t a smart person, I just put my efforts into the wrong things.
Learn from my mistakes – being a smart volleyball player, and a very good technical one takes more brain power than physical effort. There are plenty of players who have made it to the upper echelons of their sport by being the best technically. You can be very physically talented but lack the mental capacity to improve your skills.
Volleyball is a sport for intelligent people
Being smart about how you improve volleyball has to do with how well you deal with coaching, changing old habits and making your skills highly repeatable. If you can take coaching seriously and implement the direction you coach has given you, you’ll end up being a better volleyball player. And much quicker, too. Same goes for habits – the faster you release your ego from “what you know” and try a different tactic, you can dramatically increase your gains.
5. Have a “good attitude”:
I hate this term. Having a good attitude doesn’t get the full scope of what it means to be a good volleyball player. Be tenacious. But be a good teammate too. Try coming to practice with an open mind: “what can I learn today, what can I get better at?”. Having a good attitude means coming prepared to work.
Work hard, but also smart. Be open to feedback. Help your teammates up off the floor. Encourage them. Because you need them!
Volleyball isn’t about being all sunshine and rainbows. Emotions run high during competition – but that doesn’t mean you need to be intolerable either. I’d say having a good attitude is more about releasing your ego and putting yourself in a position to learn. Go in with a “I know a little, but I need to know more” attitude.
Being as a reserve on the volleyball team
Sometimes our EGOs can get the better of us. It’s frustrating to be a bench warmer, but there is always a reason why the coach made that decision. Having a good attitude will be crucial to maintaining good team chemistry. If you get over that and accept it, it will make you much better, not just a volleyball player but also a teammate and a person. Earlier, you get through this, better!
You need to keep in touch with yourself. In what conditions do you bring your best self to practice?
Keeping a journal can be amazingly helpful for yourself. Try writing in it every day before practice and after. It doesn’t need to be long. I like to include:
- What I’m grateful for
- What am I working on?
- What do I need to do to get better at it?
- How did I do?
This takes me like five minutes to do. It sets my intentions and gives me a game plan. I check in with myself – sometimes I note personal things in my life if they’re significant enough to possibly impact my practice performance. If you want to get really into it, you can include meals that make you feel the best. Rituals you do before games and the like. Whatever you do, make it sustainable. Journaling for an hour everyday isn’t realistic for many people. Make a plan and stick to it.
7. Improve volleyball practice
This should never be underrated. If you’re only putting yourself into “game mode” for game day – you’re going to have serious issues. The only way to get better at anything is to practice. Practice using your mindset to your advantage. If you do this five times a week for practice, then what’s to worry about in a game?
Come game time – you’re so well versed in how to mentally prepare yourself it feels natural. It’s just another day. Another day with the opportunity to play volleyball. To play your hardest. Are you ever having feelings of doubt in practice? Probably not many. The consequences of errors in practice don’t lose you games. Remove the doubts you have by continually putting that pressure on yourself in practice. Come game time? You’re ready to perform because you’ve done it so many times before.
Most importantly if you feel relaxed in practice, try translating that into a game. Play to your strengths. Work hard. Work smart. You’re going to do great!
You will also need proper equipment and volleyball shoes for a better experience at the practice. Check out our article about the 5 best volleyball shoes to learn more about volleyball shoes in general and see our model recommendations.
Crucial volleyball skills you need to develop
Although many of you will probably say that an attack in volleyball is an essential skill to learn first, everything starts with a good pass and reception. Developing passing skills will be a great first step to becoming a better volleyball player. It is technically the most demanding skill, and it takes time to master it. There are two ways of passing: using the forearm or fingers. Both will be extremely important.
After the reception, it always comes a set. There is where the setter will be the one who distributes the balls. If playing by the system 6-0, where players play all positions, the player who is setting is the player in the front row in the middle of the court. That player distributes the balls to the hitters, and the sets need to be as precise as possible. In most situations, the setting is performed with fingers; however, if the reception is not ideal, the set needs to be done with a forearm bump set.
Another skill you have to learn to become a better volleyball player is a spike. That is probably most players’ favourite part of volleyball and the main aspect of the volleyball game for scoring points. There are two stages to performing a great spike: the approach and the spike itself. We prepared an article that will help you become a better spiker, leading to scoring more points. To become better spiker you should increase your jump as well!
Another skill to become a better volleyball player is serving. There are a few varieties of the serve. Underhand, Float from the ground (Overhand), Jump float, jump spin serve and hybrid. Beginner volleyball players should always start with the basics, so learning a float serve from the ground will be the best start. We prepared an article that is a great first start to become a better server!
5. Block & Defence
Will you need to stop the opponent player somehow, right? The skills that will help you to do that will be blocking and Defense. Both are extremely important because the players in defense position themselves according to the block. To become a great blocker, you need to be great in timing, anticipate and have excellent footwork. For the players in defense, anticipation, positioning, and especially reflexes will play an essential role.
Learning the systems & positions in volleyball
Learning the skill of all volleyball positions will be crucial to go to that next level. There are 5 positions: setter, libero, opposite hitter, outside hitter and middle blocker. Every position plays a different role in the game, and learning them will make volleyball much more enjoyable and fun. The playing volleyball rotations will seem complicated to learn initially, but you will see they are not as hard as they look. We prepared a complete guide to volleyball positions that we hope will give you all you need to know.
Repetitions make every volleyball player better! Passing the ball into the wall at home can improve your skills immensely. Use fingers, forearm bump set, and the spike into the wall; you can find lots of content and forms of exercise on the internet you can practice at home to improve your volleyball skills.
For beginner volleyball players is essential to start with the basics. Basic skills are required before you make the next step and maybe even pursue a professional career. We specifically prepared an article on how to play volleyball for beginners.
The five essential skills in volleyball are passing, setting, spiking, blocking and defending. All these are required for you to play volleyball. Improving them will make you a better player; everybody needs to train them regardless of playing position.
It usually takes years to become good at volleyball. Training, mental toughness, fitness and skill level will tell about how good a player you are. Repetitions and not quitting are keys!
Becoming a professional volleyball player takes extreme dedication and willpower. You have to train much more than others and improve not just training habits but also what you do outside of the court. We prepared an article on How to become a professional volleyball player (The Ultimate Guide)
These are our top tips for improving your mindset to get better at volleyball. While there are plenty of physical things you can do – there’s also the mental aspect. Make yourself the best volleyball player you can be by doing both. Use intention. Be open. By the end of it, you can play free. Would you like to add something we might forgot? Feel free to leave a comment down below!
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