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From Theory to Practice Volleyball Hitting and Passing Post 1

by Daniel on September 27th, 2011


Passing and hitting arguably are the two most important skills in volleyball, at all levels, and the ability to execute these skills properly greatly affects the enjoyment of the game. Beginners are often turned off to the sport after their first attempts because of their inability to pass.

What they play is called “jungle ball” and the main goal is to get the ball back over the net in one, two or maybe even three touches. The beginner soon realizes that ball control is difficult to execute and learn. Hitting is also difficult to perform, learn and master. Watching volleyball played on television, by pro beach or Olympic-caliber players leads us to believe that hitting is easy. But hitting is actually a great athletic accomplishment.

Hitting requires the athlete to strike the volleyball that is in the air, into a 30 x 30 feet area, over a net eight feet high (for men’s) while the athlete is also airborne. Then there is also the matter of a block to look at, hitting with force and hitting into the court.

1. How would you classify the two skills identified?

Passing is an open skill. The situations are always different and changing. From different types of serves to pass, to where the ball is served, to different target areas to pass too, to different passing techniques. Passing is also a discrete skill. There is a definite beginning and end. It starts as soon as the ball is served; the ball is “tracked” by the passer all the way down to his platform where contact is made above the wrists off both arms simultaneously. Then if the pass is successful the ball will go to the target (setter) and the passing skill ends. Passing requires the use of large muscle groups; legs, hips, shoulders and arms, so it is a gross skill. The major source of power not coming from the point of contact, which is the arms, but instead coming from the lift generated by the legs. Ideally the platform is near stationary.

Hitting can be described as an open, discrete and gross skill. Open because of the thousands of situations that can occur; where the attacker is hitting the ball, front side, backside, middle or back row, to the location of the set, to where the attacker wants to hit the ball. It is a discrete skill because the skill starts as soon as the setter sets the ball, and ends when the hitter hits it. Large muscle groups are used when hitting, first the approach, using legs and arms, then arm swing, using arms and abdominal, and finally the follow through.

2. How would you organize each practice/lesson session (e.g., placement of the students and the instructor for each activity)? Why?

Each practice would start off with a “chalk talk,” demonstrations or instruction of the basic skills being worked on. The amount of time and complexity of the instruction would depend on how far the athletes as a whole have progressed. If we were working with athletes who have learned the passing and hitting skills fairly well, then our demonstrations would be shorter and more complex, as compared to athletes at lower levels.

A shorter time is used with the more accomplished athletes because the athletes already understand the main concepts and it is easier for them to grasp the new ideas. After explaining the basics body positions and fundamentals of hitting and passing, the group of 30 divides up into three groups of ten, depending on their skill level.

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