How to Hit a Volleyball Harder

man spiking in volleyball
Richard C. Ersted/Stanford Athletics

There is much more to getting the kill in volleyball than hitting the ball harder. There's placement, there is timing, there are tooling and many other ways to score a point on the attack. But let's admit it, hitting the ball hard is fun, and it can send a message to your opponent that you mean business.

A good volleyball hitter doesn't hit the ball as hard as they can every time. It is important to have a changeup - like a tip or a roll shot - not only to keep your opponents guessing but also to save your shoulder from certain ruin.

That said, if you want to bang the ball and bring the heat, make sure you pay attention to several things:

  1. Body Position
  2. Arm swing
  3. Ball Contact

The first thing you need to correct if you're having trouble putting heat on the ball is the position of your body relative to the ball. Keep these two things in mind and you will be well on your way to serious velocity:

Stay Behind the Ball

The biggest mistake hitters make is to misjudge the set. Once you are out of position, you can forget about hitting with any kind of speed. The worst position to be in is to have the ball drift behind you. Not only can you not get a good swing from here, but since you are looking up and back at the ball, there is no way to see the block that's in front of you either. Do not let yourself make this mistake. Make sure to take off for your jump with the ball in front of you and control your drift so that you keep it there. Then you can begin your wind up for your monster swing.

Get on Top of the Ball

Now that you have the ball in front of you, you can see the block and you are up high in the air, you can focus on the next important thing - getting on top of the ball. If you're going to take a good hard rip at the ball, you want to make sure all that power doesn't go toward launching the ball into the stands. If you've timed your approach correctly you can wait until that hitting hand is in the perfect spot on top of the ball and then take a good, hard swing. Keep an eye out for the block, but if the coast is clear or you see a hole in the block, you can hit the ball at a sharp downward angle.

  1. Arm swing
  2. Ball Contact

Body Position is only half the battle. The finishing move is a great arm swing. The phrase arm swing is a little misleading though because a good hitter uses the entire body to bang the ball. It starts with your approach and goes all the way to your follow through.

If you want to hit harder, you need to use everything at your disposal. The arm and shoulder itself can provide power, but you can generate much more by using your momentum and your core in conjunction with the arm and shoulder. Hitting with your entire body will also help you reduce the wear and tear on your shoulder over the course of time.

Use your forward momentum on the approach to building speed. A slow approach is the death knell for the hard-hit ball. Wait for the set, then take a quick, fluid approach. Transfer as much of that forward momentum into upward momentum as you can. As you swing your arm, pull in with your abdominal muscles - almost like a pike - to add more power to your arm and shoulder.

Everything about your attack should be quick, and that includes your arm swing. A quick arm swing, as opposed to a long, slow one, will help you put some extra pop on your attack.

  1. Body Position
  2. Ball Contact

Hitting The Ball

Now that you've adjusted your body position and you're ready to put your entire body into your swing, don't throw it all away by mis-hitting the ball. Sometimes referred to as hitting the ball with your purse, a mis-hit is usually an easy dig for the other team and a waste of a perfectly good set.

Keep your eye on the ball, keep the block in your peripheral vision and get a nice, crisp contact right on the top and center of the ball. Follow all the way through with your hitting arm and you've officially brought the heat.

Practice makes perfect, so keep working on your timing, your court vision, and your body position. Before you know it, you'll be hitting with real power.

  1. Body Position
  2. Arm swing