U.S. outside hitter Alix Klineman, who was an All American at Stanford, gave us a short tutorial recently on how the national team practices the drop step for passing deep balls. One thing we found really interesting is that their training often involves sitting on a rolling share, passing balls that are either tossed or served.
The rolling-chair drill forces players to adjust their upper bodies and platforms without help from their legs. This teaches them to keep their knees bent, open up their upper body, drop their inside shoulder and form a platform that is angled to target rather than flat.
On a slow deep ball, as Alix will tell you, there may be time to move your feet and get back so you can take the ball in your mid-line like you have been taught since Day 1. But on a faster ball, that may not be possible, so then it’s usually better to take a drop step and open up with a higher platform. Also, if you’re an outside hitter in the front row, you may not have time to move all the way back, pass and then get into your hitting approach in time. So the drop step is a good option.
Here’s Alix’s explanation on how to properly pass a deep ball using a drop step and how you can train for it while sitting on a rolling chair.