Hitting techniques

Holding the ball is forbidden by the rules of the game. Hitting techniques are the tools that players will acquire to solve the problems posed by the game. This is why they will find their origin in their final outcome in a match.

The acquisition of these different hitting techniques results in a structuring and widening of the hitting space.

Limited in the beginning to the interception of a ball arriving in front of him between waist and extended arms level, the player will gradually become able to reach balls that are far away from him, to control and hit balls under waist level and down to the ground as well as higher up after impulse.

This structuring of the hitting space matches at the same time the integration of a logic of tactical and technical choices by answering the questions:

  1. What do I want to do with the incoming ball (tactical choice) according to its trajectory and to my situation?
    • Send it back to the opposing target with precision?
    • Send it back with power?
    • Put it at the disposal of a partner for a pass?
    • For an attack?
    • Stop it from falling into my court?
  2. How can I hit this ball (technical choice):
    • With two hands, with a bump, with one hand?
      According to my situation, on the trajectory and on my tactical intention.

This is why, even when we put in place favourable situations for the learning of a particular technique, it is perfectly normal that occasionally a player will use another technique more appropriate to the present situation. For example during work on the bump a player who sees the ball arriving head high at slow speed must take it with two hands and not attempt an ill-adapted or even impossible bump.

To enable him to acquire the techniques we will place the player in situations that make it easy and we will focus on the relationship created between the aim ("what I'm trying to achieve"), the means ("how I went about it") and the result ("what I have really achieved"). By doing this we put in place some references which are at the heart of the technique: attitudes, rhythms, orientations and weight support, heights and hitting surfaces.

Often, the teacher's only references are the gestures of experts and he tends to judge by "consistent / not consistent". A more productive and more interesting approach is to enter into a sharper yet more accessible analysis. In the observation files, we propose some simple and usable points of reference. This makes the teacher's job easier even if he is not a volley-ball specialist.

We will notice that the pupil gradually owns this process and that he naturally makes his own diagnoses in case of error: "I didn't turn properly", "I didn't bend my legs", etc. Often he mimes to himself what he should have done. At this stage a capital step for improvement is reached.

Technical accuracy is inseparable from tactical opportunity. The efficiency of different techniques is not equal in all situations. This is why, through diversity, we will work on technical adaptability and availability. We sometimes see intermediate level players trying to save with a low bump a ball coming at face level, as if they were handcuffed or trying to hit with two hands a low ball on the side.

In each hitting technique lays a reading of the situation and a choice. This will be the case in learning situations. We will introduce this dimension even in systematic situations where we are looking for a large volume of repetition via occasional variations in order to impose the attention and availability which form integral part of the skill to be acquired. Remember that in a match, identical repetition doesn't exist!

See the resource on
volley-ball and technique


Serving is of critical importance in the game. It is a very particular hit occurring in totally different conditions to the other hits: without time constraint, with mastery of the ball (note however that the rules limit the available time to 8 seconds).

As a result, it is learned differently from other hits:

  • Using the available time to concentrate and choose the target.
  • Creating fixed and permanent landmarks.

Learning situations: working on the serve

The serve is the only hit that can be done without time constraint and where the ball is held by the player. Two consequences can be drawn:

  1. The player is totally responsible for this hit.
  2. The conditions for the use of serve techniques being very different from those of other hits, they can be worked on in very different conditions to other techniques in the game.

The player puts in place some routines enabling precision and regularity:

  • Placing (position relative to the court and feet placing).
  • Aim (having a clear and precise representation of the target zone) and a concentration on realisation.
  • A controlled hold or ball throw.
  • An efficient hitting mechanic that can be reproduced.

To promote these acquisitions we will often out in place a point count in the form of games. From there we can notice that:

  • Players, even beginners, can very quickly deliver a regular and efficient serve.
  • A correct serve is within reach of everyone and doesn't require any particular physical means.

Overhand hits

A two-handed hit is logically the most precise and reliable technique. It can be used both for counterattack and for passes. It rests on a movement allowing the player to take position under the ball and suits a hitting space above the head of the player.

With beginners it comes as a spontaneous and direct opposition to the trajectory to send back the ball straight ahead. Learning will turn it into a technique allowing distribution of the ball in all directions, or at a 360° angle. Weight support control and in particular the last two steps before the hit are crucial.

Finger positioning enables to ensure the precision and safety of the hit. Work on two handed hits opens naturally to the one handed hit in borderline situations.

Learning situations: work on the two handed hit

We use the word hit in the context of a game rules that forbid holding the ball. However, in the many different techniques, touching the ball with two hands allows contact and a more precise control of the ball.

This is why it is generally called passing technique. It is not the most powerful technique but it is the best was to pass the ball on to a partner while at the same time fine tuning height, direction, speed.


Bumps with two arms or one arm enable to extend the player's hitting space downwards, and to act on balls that a beginner would consider lost from the outset.

Bumps are primarily second choice techniques when you can't play with two hand. This rule has three exceptions:

  • In defence against powerful kills.
  • In situations where we want a certain hit strength like the last touch of the ball from backcourt.
  • In beach-volley to take into account referee appreciation.

Very early on in the learning of two handed or bump hitting techniques, we must solve a problem of choice and of adaptation to the trajectory. We must be careful to build this versatility and not a stereotyped attitude which often hides a lack of placing skills.

Learning situations: work on bumps


The spike is a game acceleration technique with direct trajectory. Is requires therefore hitting the ball higher than the net. Yet, efficient direct trajectories can be produced even when the hit is a little lower than the net.

The difficulty and educational interest of the spike reside in the synchronisation of the impulse with the trajectory and the coordination of the hit in suspension. This hit extents the player's hitting space upwards and implies the integration of optimal orientation and hitting distance from a biomechanical and perception points of view. This is why we propose introducing these hits rather early, in easy conditions, and linking them straight away to different trajectory times and hits.

Spikes can differ on two points:

  • Timing of the momentum, of the impulse and of the hit relative to the trajectory of the ball.
  • The placing relative to the net in distance and height.

To get more details on timings, distances and heights of attack:

See the resource on
the spike

Learning situations: work on the spike

Here we work first away from the net because it is essential to be able to get away from this landmark to be able to get organised in relation to the ball. When we free the spiker from timing worries by throwing the ball at him in a helpful way over a short time. This way we can insist on the organisation of the impulse and of the hit itself.

The block

The block is the direct counterattack technique which responds to the spike. It aims at closing a direct attack angle.

It presents three major characteristics::

  • Multiple sources of information to process: the setter, the ball, the attackers, the spiker's arm.
  • The possibility of organising a hit alone or with several players (2 or 3)
  • Specific movement modes.

If, at expert level, the choice of whether to block or not rarely occurs, at intermediate level is a question that needs to be mastered and forms part of the blocking technique.

Learning situations: work on the blocke

Borderline techniques

Players try to use the most effective techniques but errors or opponent initiatives can create borderline situations where these solutions don't apply.

Borderline techniques then allow trying to ensure continuity of the game. Learning them is part of the desired technical and tactical adaptability. The purpose of training is to widen the player's intervention space sideways but mainly downwards.

This is why, through fun exercises, we introduce very early on in the warm-up some games of borderline hits. Players assimilate the fact that a ball is playable as long as it hasn't touched the ground. Attention will only be brought to the fact that they are only used as a last resort and not as a lazy solution (for a lack of attention or insufficient move) or a free demonstration.

Learning situations: work on borderline techniques

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