Luckily there are many settings and ways to learn the game of volleyball. It requires good hand-eye coordination and lots of repetitions. However, it can be practiced in a variety of settings. Grab a ball and some friends, or even just yourself to start getting touches on the ball.
There are three main types of touches that constitute volleyball: passing (or bumping), setting and attacking. Passing is the most commonly used contact in volleyball. Let’s start there and work our way up in difficulty.
Passing is Key:
Platform passing is holding your hands and wrists together with straight elbows to create a nice flat surface for the ball to touch. Start by overlapping your fingers and folding your thumbs inwards. You should NEVER interlace your fingers. I like to use the “pancake, pancake bacon strip, bacon strip” method. Stack your hand with the palms facing upwards. Like a short stack of pancakes. Meanwhile, bring your thumbs together over the top, those are your two bacon strips! The base of your hands and wrists should be touching. Next, extend your arms in front of you until your elbows are completely straight. Note that digging and passing both use the same arm formation. Boom! There’s your foundation for the most important and commonly used point of contact in volleyball.
The volleyball knows only two things: angles and force. The direction your platform faces is where the ball should go. Most importantly, focus on getting the ball to touch both arms and in the middle of your forearms. If you have a great platform you are well on your way to becoming a great passer. Now that we have the direction for the ball established, knowing the amount of force to use with the ball can be more difficult. For a slow-moving ball that has an arc, you will probably need to swing your arms to generate enough force for the ball to move forwards. For a fast serve or a dig, the ball will already have enough velocity – you won’t need to add any force.
Try it out!
Grab yourself, some friends, or a wall and toss the ball to yourself. Practice putting your arms together and see how many contacts you can string together. Go back and forth with a friend and try the same thing. For example, you may also take turns tossing the ball to your partner and having them pass the ball back to you. Keep in mind you may have to adjust your body position to force the ball in the direction you want it to go. Usually forwards; so keep your knees bent and ready to move. Maintaining your shoulders over your knees will also ensure that the ball returns forward and not above or behind you. In conclusion, use your platform to move the ball forward, set up the proper angle, and use enough force to get it to your target.
Set it up:
Setting is a skill that is a bit more difficult to master. Start by bringing your hands up to your face in the shape of a ball. Keep your thumbs pointed downwards and your pinkies the highest fingers up. Depending on the distance you need to set, or the strength you have will determine how much wrist and elbow action is needed. Speaking of elbows, keep them bent. Your fingers should be relaxed but firm enough to stop the ball from slipping through your hands. Your contact on the ball should be on the underside of it. Sets are intended to have an arc, it’s a “soft” contact. In other words, you will be able to change the direction of the ball and guide it onto a new path. You are gently changing the direction of the ball with setting, allowing time for your attacker to get to the ball.
It’s a good idea while you’re starting out to alternate between setting and passing. The more adept you are at both, the better of a teammate you will become! The more touches on the ball you get, the quicker you will learn. Playing at high levels of volleyball takes time and LOTS of reps. For attacking, check out this article.
Put it all together:
If you can, find a court and practice in the gym. The best way to train is to do lots of repetitions. Keep it light and fun by standing in a circle and playing with multiple people. Try out different things with your platform, hands, and arms to touch the ball. You can play with two people facing each other, outside in the grass or sand, and even in a pool. Volleyball is tremendously fun and can be played by all. The main objective is to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible. Have fun and happy training! Do you feel like you are not a beginner anymore? Learn more about volleyball positions by reading our article that covers the topic in-depth and that will help you understand volleyball more and bring your game to the next level.