Transition is one of the toughest positions to begin your attack. Anytime you are shifting from playing defense to attacking you will have to make the best use of your time. This is a follow-up article to ” where I discussed hitting out of serve receive. Remember there are 5 main scenarios from which you would begin an attack
- Passing the ball in serve receive
- NOT passing the ball in serve receive
- Dig-To-Hit during transition
- Not taking the dig during transition (blocking or free)
This article will cover how to IMPROVE YOUR TRANSITION HITTING. First things first, a reminder that volleyball is 99% preparation to make a contact with the ball. That being said, you have to move your body in the most efficient way to do that. There are some steps and methods that will help you to get into a better position to attack the volleyball.
BODIES ARE QUICKER MOVING FORWARD THAN BACKWARDS:
We were designed to move forward in this world and doing that on the volleyball court will help you to get further off the net and in the best position to attack. Where are you starting your transition from? Right-back, Middle back, right front, or left front?
If you dig the ball, whether you are in the front row or not, these steps can help you create space to make an attack. The most important step is to keep your head up and not lose sight of the ball. Second, you will want to use the range of motion in your neck to your advantage. Many times, hitters will “run backward” to keep their eyes on the ball to get into position. However, if you can turn your head and run, you will create more time to get into position and are less likely to miss your first two steps; you know, the ones that help you time your set and get you to where you need to be going?
YOU’VE GOT TO MOVE IT, MOVE IT:
Let’s start with the easiest position to transition from, blocking in the left front. After you have done your block movement and the ball is still in play, land, and move. I recommend taking four steps to get off the net. The best way to take your steps is to open your shoulders to face the court first. Take a huge running step towards the outside of the court with your right leg, followed by another large step with the left. It’s almost like doing an attack approach to get off the net. Once you have taken those two big steps, begin to turn your body back around with your right leg, and swing the left one back behind you. I like to aim to get myself anywhere from 4 to 5 meters off the net.
Now, if you’re blocking right front, as a right-handed person the steps will be slightly more complicated, and you might feel an even bigger rush to get off the net as you are closer to the setter (generally speaking) so your sets will take less time to get to you. If you are right-handed and playing right front, I recommend taking five steps to get yourself off the net. Once again, you will land, open facing the court and run to get off. Your first large step should be taken with your left foot. Followed by right, and ANOTHER left step before swinging your legs and turning your body back towards the net for the last two steps.
By landing and running off the net you will create space and time for you to be ready to attack the ball again. If you’re backing up to attack, not only are you slower, but it’s more difficult to find and track the ball. You need space to take good swing after good swing. The best way to practice these steps is by doing the footwork at the beginning of practice. Even after years of playing it’s a great way to warm up and help create the motor patterns so that it feels like second nature!
WHAT IF YOU DIG THE BALL / DO NOT BLOCK?
I will say, the most important thing if you take the first contact is to NOT rush it. The first contact is the most important to set up the success of the play. If you are digging, make sure you time your time with that skill before moving on to the second one. It doesn’t help your team if your first contact is misplaced because you were in a rush. As I mentioned in the “How to Spike a Volleyball article” Be quick to get to your spot, but do not rush the skill itself. Once you have successfully touched the ball, begin your move to get into position.
If you have dug the play while playing left front, and you are inside the court – you have two options depending on the quality of the dig and your actual location. The further towards the middle of the court you are, the more likely transition steps are out of the question. Look at the court below:
Go straight into your approach
The best thing to do if you dig a ball this far over into the court is to back up behind the ten-foot line and go straight into your approach. Going from the inside of the court to the outside. You can still make it to the outside sets if you use your steps effectively. Make sure you and your setter are on the same page and be open to calling for an inside set or something quick to put the other team on their toes.
If you dig the ball from the right front, just do your best to get outside of the court to hit. If you take the first contact or not, being available to hit puts strain on the other team’s blockers because they will have more hitters to focus on. I still prefer the turn and run method, but it isn’t always an option. However, working hard to both; get out of your teammate’s way, and being ready for another contact helps ease the strain on some of the other players who might not be ready. If you can consistently get outside the court and ready for your setter – guaranteed you will get more sets!
If you are the off blocker for block defense, whether you dig or not, do your best to turn and run into position. For consistency purposes, I like to use four steps for almost all of my attacking and transitioning no matter where I do it from. From the left front, again turn your shoulders and run to the outside of the court. I start with my right leg, turn my back to the net and take one more big step before spinning around to face the net again. I will swing my left leg back to start a four-step approach. NEVER SPIN IN A FULL CIRCLE. Your body should be turning and rotating in the opposite direction you did before by the time you’re facing the net again.
Depending on where your team has you playing defense will also determine how many steps and how far outside the court you can get.
Important things to remember:
- Big fast steps forward are ALWAYS faster than backing up
- No matter if you dog or not, getting into a position from where you can take a swing puts pressure on the other team
- NEVER take your eye off the ball and NEVER spin around.