Error #1: Player's footwork in the approach is backwards (known as "Goofy Footing")
Correction: Have the player focus on the arms as they work with the legs. For a right hander the hands should go forward with the left step and back with the right. (Opposite for left-handers.) With goofy footers the arms go in reverse.
Error #2: Player is too far under the ball and must reach back to hit.
Correction: Young players will have a tendency to either (a) not get far enough off the net to affect a full approach; or (b) will leave too early feeling that they will be too late. For (a) emphasize and reinforce GETTING AVAILABLE and STAYING AVAILABLE. If a visual aid will help put either a mark on the floor or use a traffic cone in line with how far back the player must get. (b) is more difficult in that the height, velocity, and location of the set changes with each repetition. IMPORTANT! Motor learning principles state that learning happens when the skill being practiced is done specifically as it will be applied in the game. Spiking requires hitting a moving ball. Suspending a ball either from some piece of equipment or holding it above the net DOES NOT teach effective hitting. For a player to learn timing he or she must hit a moving ball. Progress from simple to complex and use the Socratic Method of asking the player what is triggering the approach. Direct their attention to the ball leaving the setter's hands and visualizing trajectory, velocity, and location. Some players will pick up recognition and the related timing easily while others will struggle. Repeated and deliberate practice in the variety of situations will yield positive results. Be patient! It can take some time. Go from simple to complex as the player gets comfortable with the previous challenge.
Error #3: Player gets left shoulder (right handers) right shoulder (left handers) beyond the point of attack so that the only shot available is a cross body arm swing.
Correction: Study the second to last step of the approach. For the right-hander the second-to-last step must be FAST- LOONNNG - AND LOW. This allows for the last step to be short and quick and converts the explosive horizontal approach to a vertical launch. If the second-to-last step is short the tendency is that the last step goes beyond the desired launch point and, instead of going vertical the weight continues horizontal toward the net and (for right handers) the left shoulder goes beyond the point of attack.
Error #4: Player continually hits net after hitting ball.
Correction: The setter needs to keep the ball off the net. The hitter needs to launch vertically and further back from the net. The arm swing should be stopped after contact when close to the net, instead of a complete follow-through. The hitting hand is snapped like a whip.
Error #5: Player appears stiff and decelerates on approach.
Correction: The spiking technique is a contradiction of events: It is a powerful, explosive, series of coordinated movements, which implies a flexing of muscles, gritting of teeth, and intensity. However, attacking is a relaxed, whipping motion. Encourage your players to be intense - but not tense. On the first two steps the hands should be relaxed and swing naturally, the hands staying below the waist. Raise them during the first two steps and there is a tendency to raise the center of gravity thus slowing down the approach. The fingers, hands, wrists, and shoulders should be relaxed to allow the whip to accelerate.
Error #6: Hitter keeps hitting ball long
Correction: Often this is the result of the previously described problems. This should be corrected naturally by working on the above items.
Error #7: Hitter keeps hitting the ball into the net
Correction: This problem may have to do with jumping ability, height and length of arms. We can't teach players how to grow so we must accommodate their physical realities. A shorter player must improve their jumps, be very good at their relative position to the set. Also, the player must focus on keeping the hitting hand up after contact.
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