There are a various types of spikes or hitting techniques in volleyball. For instance, outside hit, middle hit, quick balls, backcourt spike etc. In its most basic form, spiking is simply the action of jumping into the air and hitting the ball downwards into your opponent’s side of the court, which hopefully results in a ‘kill’.
To execute a spike you need to make an approach, jump into the air with a good arm swing and then hit the ball with force as you bring your arm back from the swing. It takes a lot of practice to get all three actions to flow together smoothly and to develop an effective spike so be patient and put in the hard work.
Lets breakdown the action of a spike into easy to follow instructions. In this example, we will describe the actions for a right-handed hitter.
Start with your left foot well back from your right foot and take your first step with your left foot. The aim of the first step is to build speed and cover distance, so be sure to make this first step powerful and strong.
The second steps is with your right foot and so continue to build speed and cover distance. It should take you to the ball. You can vary the distance of this step to adjust for the position of the ball from the net. So if the ball is off the net and closer to you, take a shorter second step or conversely take a greater second step is the ball is further away from you and closer to the net.
As you take this step, start to swing your arms back behind you. Your arms swing will help you gain extra inches in your jump so make sure your timing is spot on.
The final step is with your left foot and it should follow quickly after your second step. Keep both feet about shoulder width apart to maintain maximum balance. Before your last step lands, continue to swing your arms back as far as you can and simultaneously bend your knees to lower your body in preparation for the jump.
Through out the whole process, keep your head up and continue to track the trajectory of the set.
As your last step lands (often referred to as planting) keep your body turned at about 30 degrees from net with your right shoulder (your hitting shoulder) further away from the net. This will give you room to execute the spike but more importantly, keeps your body open so that you can see the approaching ball.
The jump consists of quickly swinging both arms forward and upwards while pushing explosively with both legs to lift your body into the air. The quicker you can execute these combine actions and the more explosive your leg push, the higher you will jump. If you need to increase your vertical jump, there are programs specifically designed to help you achieve this. You can read about plyometrics techniques here.
Aim to jump vertically as much as possible because your natural momentum will give you the horizontal motion. The higher you can jump the more effective your spike will be.
The Arm Swing and Hit
As your jump progresses and your arms will reach above your head, pull your right elbow back and bend it to about 90 degrees. Keep you right hand relaxed but opened and curved to the shape of the ball. To hit effectively you need both power and control. Keeping the hand open to make maximum contact with the ball will deliver both control and power.
Rotate your right arm around the shoulder joint and quickly move your elbow forward. Your forearm should whip forward as your hand accelerates towards the ball. Your hand should “snap” forward as you make contact with the ball.
Be sure to hit at your highest reach for maximum power and chance of success. At the point of contact, your hitting arm will be straight but has you follow through with the whipping action of the arm; your arm will bend at the elbow. Bending the elbow and bringing your arm back towards your body will help avoid a net touch.
On descent, bend you legs slightly and use your leg muscles to absorb the force of the landing and to regain your balance. Often, your body will be slightly off balance following a powerful hit.
Keeping your distance away from the net as you land will help avoid landing on your opponent’s foot, which is a common cause of ankle injury.