John Marshall Volleyball: Skills Covered

Friday, January 4
Skills Covered

At the 2013 John Marshall Volleyball Youth Clinic, we will teach and reinforce the techniques for the following skills:


In volleyball much is made of the ability to serve because of the personal fitness and deception that can be demonstrated; to set, which is volleyball’s answer to the quarterback position of football; to finish a rally with the placement and power of a spike. Perhaps the least recognized and most critical element of volleyball is the pass. In recreational volleyball it is the greatest moment of confusion because some players are concerned about returning the ball while others are just plain uncertain where that ball is going to go after the first touch. More points are lost on a team’s inability to deal effectively with the first ball over the net than at any other point in a game. Most experienced players value a teammate who can pass, as much as they do a good outside hitter and setter. The reason is simple. A good pass will transform your team from a defensive posture to an offensive attack. The most common and effective form of passing is the forearm pass. It’s the easiest way to get the ball under control. The only way you can be called for a foul is if the ball rolls up your arms or comes to rest on you arms which will result in a held ball call. The forearm pass is also known as the bump pass. To use it correctly, you must join your hands together and allow the ball to strike the fleshy part of your forearms simultaneously. There many ways of joining your hands, we’ll touch on a couple here. But the best way to learn yourself is to watch a few players and experiment. A common mistake is to allow the ball to strike your wrists or hands, often resulting in an unpredictable pass or a ball returned over the net, commonly called an overpass. The best way to avoid this problem is to remind yourself to bend your wrists and hands down before impact to help cushion the ball. 


The setter runs the offense, and determines which hitter to set. Sometimes, a team has two setters. The key to good setting is consistency. The basic premise of setting is to take a bump pass and convert it to a well placed ball that can be effectively hit by another player to the opponent’s court. The proper technique for setting is to raise your hands about five inches above your head with your thumbs on the bottom and pointed towards your eyes. Your fingers should be loose and slightly cupped. Don’t spread your hands any farther than necessary to receive the ball. As a guide, you’ll have a two to three inch gap between both of your thumbs and both of your forefingers.


If there is a moment of truth in volleyball, it is the perfectly hit spike. The spike combines power, speed and athleticism to provide the excitement that is uniquely volleyball. The spike is used to either put the ball down in a portion of the court where the opposition is not, or to strike the ball so hard that the defenders are unable to deal with it effectively. Front row players can attack the ball from anywhere on the court. Back row players can only attack from behind the three meter line. 


This is the most popular serve in competitive volleyball. There are many variations that you can master with practice. As in any serve, make sure you don’t touch or cross the endline at any time during your serve. This type of serve offers speed and deception. When using the overhead serve, the ball passes over the net quickly and can be made to do a number of different things including dropping quickly and floating erratically. Strike the ball with either an open hand or a slightly cupped hand. A rigid wrist will allow you greatest power. Toss the ball over your head about three feet and slightly to your left and take a step forward with your weight shifting from your right foot to your left foot. Arch your back slightly and bend your arm at the elbow as the right arm comes behind your head and is brought forward to strike the ball. Finish with a follow through to your hip. Once you know what open spot on the other side you will serve, focus on the ball, from toss to contact. We will not cover the underhand serve at our clinic. 


We will play games, do cheers and teach your children to be team players. This is the most important part of volleyball to learn at a young age. Convienently, all of the lessons about the team aspect of volleyball transcend to all other sports.  


*Skill Descriptsions come from USA Volleyball's 2004 Guide to Volleyball Basics