How to Teach Young Players to Hit a Volleyball

Great for Newbies

Girls who are just learning how to spike are short-tossed over and over and over. Often, I don't set the rookies ANY high balls. On the first day of a rookie camp, the rookies usually get no high balls set to them; but, they may get 150 short tosses, each one followed by feedback.

At lessons, I will even short-toss the multi-year veterans who may have never worked me, or may have not worked with me for a few months. I want to see what they're doing. I want to see every little thing. It may irritate them, but these girls come to private lessons to learn and improve, not to practice.

Walk Before You Run

No, my staff will never set high balls to rookies until after their spike approach is mastered. Well, we may throw up some high balls after the rookies have begged and begged; and, then we will watch them fail.

And they will fail because their brain is trying to concentrate on two things that, until mastered, require maximum concentration: a spike approach and timing to the ball.

If neither is mastered, it's IMPOSSIBLE to concentrate on both. Thus, before a girl should be expected to spike a ball that's been set, her spike approach must be a 100 percent habit. THEN, and only then, can timing and approach location be addressed.

Stepping It Up

When a girl can do her spike approach without having to think about it—I mean you can set her ball after ball and her spike approach is the same each time—then you can start concentrating on the more technical aspects.

Many coaches think they're done teaching a spike approach as soon as their players have mastered the 3-step approach with the proper arm swing. Nope! These technical aspects include:

  • Feet and belly-button pointed at 45 degrees (for right handers who are hitting from the middle or from the left side)
  • The "hands together" like on the video
  • The "use it and lose it"
  • The "thumb-thigh" arm swing
  • Learning how to hit line
  • Learning how to disguise a roll shot into the 3-zone
  • Tilting the shoulders

Yep, there are SO MANY things that the master-spiker must learn. But these tips will certainly help. Good luck!

Do you have a question for Coach Houser. Feel free to email him at

Coach Tom Houser is director of STAR Volleyball Camps as well as author of the "I Can't Wait" Drill Collection and Ebooks. For more info on the ebook as well as upcoming camps check out

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