Monday, December 24, 2007

Secrets to Passing a Volleyball

The Most Common Problem with Passing

What volleyball skill determines who wins most matches? Passing? Serving? Hitting? Setting? Blocking? Digging?

It’s hitting. Outside hitting to be exact. If you average the hitting percentages of the two outsides and opposite and compare it to the same three players of the opposing team, whoever wins that battle will win 95% of all matches!

Here is a second fact that will make sense to you: When balls are passed high and off the net, the team’s outside hitting percentage goes down.

Passing a ball low and to the net is your goal when passing.

The most common error I see when players pass is they use their legs to elevate the ball. They jump up to elevate the ball so the setter has time to get to the ball. Bad move. This single action causes the ball to be passed high and/or off the net and the outside hitting percentages plummet.

Advanced players do everything they can to pass the ball low. The last thing we do is jump up from our legs to elevate the ball. The only time we pass a ball high, is to allow the middles to get off of the net, not to have the setter get in front of the pass.

How do we elevate the ball when we pass? From the arms. Let me explain. When I teach passing at my clinics, I have participants concentrate on one aspect of the skill: backspinning the ball. Backspin = Control = Cushioning = Cutting the ball. All of these words have essentially the same meaning. Whenever you spin a ball in sports, you put control on it.

There are four ways we backspin (control) a ball:

1 Bring your arms back to your body at the moment of contact. This is done all the time on hard driven balls. Specifically when we receive jump serves and when we dig. The arms in this case come back into our body and are used to cushion the impact and change the trajectory of the ball.
2 Pivot into the ball using your knee to go down and through the ball. This is why coaches stress getting behind the ball so you go down and through it on contact. The arms are used to elevate the ball from the shoulder joint.
3 Bend over at the waist when you contact the ball (See picture.) This is how I prefer to teach players to pass. Passers become more athletic (quicker) and learn how to “cut” the ball off of their arms. Again, we use the arms to elevate the ball.
4 Crunch into the ball from your upper chest (See picture.) Players always try to take balls in front of them, but sometimes the ball comes in too high. The only rule we use for passing is to backspin the ball. So, we use our upper body to “crunch” on the ball while using our arms to control the height. By the way, this method does allow us to jump up from our knees.

To teach a player who has always elevated the ball from their knees or waist can be a challenge. What I have found to be an effective teaching tool is what I call the “over-correction” method. It is a teaching concept I took from a golf lesson many years ago. As the name implies, the idea is to over-correct a problematic issue and learn the feeling of correct execution.

Over-correcting passing is fairly simple. To start I have the player put one foot in front of the other. This will create a pivot point on your body. Which foot goes forward? It depends on which side you are passing from. If you are on the left side of the court, put your left foot forward. If you are on the right side of the court, put your right foot forward. The ball will always go wherever your shoulders face as it helps square your shoulders to the target. Most players regardless of which side they are on put their left foot forward for a good reason; setters runs the offense from the right side of the court. Next, get your arms out in front of your face so you can see your wrists. Have you ever heard the expression “follow the ball into your arms?” Reverse this thought: “Follow your arms into the ball.” Lock your elbows so you don’t “pop” the ball. The last thing we do is bend over and touch the floor while contacting the ball. This action of “bending” into the ball and touching the floor will get you going in the right direction. It forces you to pivot down into the ball instead of lifting up from your legs or back. The trick is to let your arms elevate the ball. Since you were taught not to swing your arms, this can be challenging. Swinging your arms is defined by taking your arms out of your peripheral vision when the ball approaches your platform, not by swinging your arms up to elevate the ball. This is a key difference. The result of this whole process is the ball magically backspins (control) and the ball is passed much lower to the net. The feeling of backspin off the arms is what I refer to as “cutting” the ball. It has a much different feeling than jumping up and having the ball bounce off the arms.

Bending into the ball and cushioning it has one other important application: it is how we control power. I hear players coming back from tournaments lamenting how they were “overpowered” by other teams. When you use your legs to jump up on serve receive, you are at the mercy of a good jump serve. By learning how to bend into passes we minimize powerful serves from the other team.

NEXT UP: THE ISSE OF SETTING. WHY YOU WERE TAUGHT TO PASS A BALL HIGH!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

2007 Volleyball Camp & Clinics Schedule

Dates E Location Cost Availability Site A J
February 3-4 Irvine, CA, University HS, Volleyball Camp
March 17-18 Tampa, FL Hillsborough CC, Volleyball Clinic
April 28-29 Phoenix, AZ, Kingdom Courts, Volleyball Camp
May 5-6 Chicago, IL, Northside Prep, Volleyball Clinic
May 12-13 Cleveland, OH, Rocky River, Volleyball Camp
May 19-20 Boston, MA, BSC, Volleyball Clinic
June 16-17 Cincinnati, OH, McGee's Courts, Volleyball Camp
June 21-22 Springfield, MO, The Courts, Volleyball Clinic
June 23-24 St. Louis, MO, Parkway West, Volleyball Camp
June 25-26 Cape Girardeau, MO, Cape Central HS, Volleyball Clinic
June30-July1 Denville, NJ, Powerzone, Volleyball Camp
July 5-6 Richmond, VA, Athletes Training Source, Volleyball Clinic
July 7-8 Sterling, VA, Dulles SportsPlex, Volleyball Camp
July 9-10 Quad Cities, IL, Black Hawk, Volleyball Clinic
July 11-12 Two Rivers, WI, Two Rivers HS, Volleyball Camp
July 14-15 Indianapolis, IN, Indy Sports Park, Volleyball Clinic
July 16-17 Pittsburgh, PA, Greentree SportsPlex. Volleyball Camp
July 19-20 San Antonio, TX, Factory of Champions, Volleyball Clinic
July 21-22 Dallas, TX, SportsPlex, Volleyball Camp
July 23-24 Detroit, MI, Maxx Play Arena, Volleyball Clinic
July 26-27 Kansas City, MO, PAC, Volleyball Camp
July 28-29 Denver, CO, Bladium Sports Club, Volleyball Clinic
August 4-5 Phoenix, AZ, Kingdom Courts, Volleyball Camp
August 7-8 San Diego, CA, Fairground Center, Volleyball Clinic
August 11-12 Seattle, WA, Kent Commons, Volleyball Camp
August 13-14 Portland, OR, The Hoop, Volleyball Clinic
August 18-19 Irvine, CA, University HS, Volleyball Camp
Oct.27-28 San Francisco, CA, Payes Place, Volleyball Clinic
Nov. 3-4 Sterling, VA, Dulles Sports Plex, Volleyball Camp
Nov. 10-11 Houston, TX Willowbrook Complex, Volleyball Clinic
Nov. 17-18 Pleasant Prairie, WI, LakeView RecPlex, Volleyball Camp
Nov. 19-20 X Canton, OH, Elite Sports Ohio, Volleyball Clinic
Dec. 1-2 Minneapolis, MN, Ralia Center, Volleyball Camp
Dec. 8-9 Cherry Hill , NJ, ISC, Volleyball Clinic
Dec. 15-16 Seattle, WA, Kent Commons Volleyball Camp
Dec. 17-18 X Surrey, BC, Panorama Ridge HS, Volleyball Clinic

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Information on attending volleyball camps

Q: What is the recommended age of participants?

A: Age 12--adult. Skills clinics are different than camps. Participants learn skills. We do not play against each other all day. Two hours into the clinic, players are divided up based on how hard they hit. For me it is a safety issue. Safety of all participants is my primary concern.

Q: What if I feel my skill level is not good enough to participate?

A: Relax. Most of the time we learn skills and do drills. Skill level and age are not an issue. The second hour of the clinic we separate out players by how hard they hit. I do not mix skill levels when we play. It is a safety issue. 20 minutes into the clinic, you will feel fine.

Q: What if I am a good player, will I learn anything?

A: The participants who get the most out of the clinic are advanced players and coaches because they understand the game better and have a greater appreciation for the instruction.

Q: Adults and juniors together? How does that work?

A: Great! In fact I rarely do clinics of just adults or just juniors. Again, we separate out players by how hard they hit and how well they play. I have found the best ratio for clinics is: 40% junior girls, 30% junior boys and 30% adults. Junior players listen better when adults are in attendance and adults last longer on the court when junior players are playing with them.

Q: How old are "junior players?"

A: Age12-18 years old.

Q: How many participants are at each event?

A: Usually 55-65. It depends on the location.

Q: How many instructors at each clinic?

A: No less than four (including myself) and usually five. I do all the instruction at all events. The assistants are prepped in advance on how and what to teach.

Q: What is the format for the clinic?

A: I teach skills a little different than most coaches: I advocate passing the ball low instead of high. I am a big fan of snapping the ball instead of hitting it. Because of this, I have a successful teaching manner: theory, demonstration, "Over-Correction," drill, next skill. Then we play "Survivor."

Q: What is "Survivor?"

A: Survivor is where we put everything together. The first part of the clinic is where we establish the rules and teach you how to play, the last part of each day is when we make you play by the rules…or you go to the end of the line. Very effective!

Q: What happens if I am put on the waiting list?

A: I will send you an e-mail telling you the clinic is currently full and what number you are on the waiting list. I release the list 7 days prior to the event

Q: Can parents watch?

A: Yes. Parents are more than welcome to watch the clinic and are actively encouraged to participate when I talk to the junior players about high school, college, club ball and scholarships at the end of the first day.

Q: Can players under the age of 18 leave the facility?

A: Absolutely not. Juniors must stay inside the building until a responsible party arrives to pick them up.

Q: Does the cost of the clinic include housing?

A: A list of nearby hotels will be included in the e-mail I will send to you.

Q: Should I bring water, snacks, knee-pads and extra t-shirts as needed?

A: Yes.

Q: If I still have a question, who do I contact?

A: Send me an e-mail or phone me (760) 635-3994

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