A middle hitter is one of the most versatile players on a volleyball team. At times, you’ll need to play defensively, trying to block the ball. At other times, you will need to play offensively, helping set up attacking plays.
Because of this, there can be a lot of pressure placed on middle hitters. You need to make sure that you have the right skills. Keep reading to learn some tips to help you lift your performance.
1. Keep Your Opponents Guessing
To help you do this, you will need to learn how to use a wide range of attacking styles. Sometimes, you might want to spike the ball across the line. At other times, you can use a short tip.
When done correctly, you should be able to keep your opponent guessing. If they are unable to predict your next move, it will be easier for you to gain a tactical advantage. However, it will mean that you need to spend more time practicing, so you can become fluent in multiple attacking styles.
2. Learn How to Communicate With Your Setter
To be a good middle hitter, you’ll need to develop a strong relationship with your setter. This will ensure that the ball is getting put in the right place so you’ll be able to hit it properly. There are a few ways that you can build this relationship.
First, you can develop hand signals. This can be a good way of signaling that you want to raise or lower the tempo of the game, without alerting your opponents to the change. You should also make sure that they know where you want to have the ball set.
After each set, you should share some feedback. This can be as simple as a nod or pat on the back for a good shot. If there were problems, you can have a few words while getting into position for the next set.
Often, though, the best way to build a strong relationship is by training together. The more time you spend playing together, the easier it will become to read the cues of the other person.
3. Use the Right Form When Blocking
Blocking the ball is one of the most important roles of the middle hitter. How successful you will be in this position will often depend on your starting position. If you are in the wrong posture, you will find it harder to block the ball in time.
Here are some of the tips you can use to get the right form:
- Bend your knees. You should start by bending your knees. This will ensure that you are always ready to jump for the ball.
- Distribute your weight evenly. You want to be sure that you are balanced properly when you jump.
- Stand between one to two feet from the net. How far away you stand will depend on you.
If you are unsure about your form, you should talk to the coach. They’ll be happy to give you some tips on how you can improve. You can also get a friend to record you during practice, so you can assess your stance for yourself.
4. Think Ahead
You need to do more than just watch the ball. You need to consider the strategy. Look at the type of pass and how it was hit. This will give you some clues about the type of path the ball will take. From there, you’ll be able to get yourself into the best position to hit it.
5. Save the Ball
Sometimes, the set won’t be what you wanted. It won’t be in a position for you to make a strong hit. But you should make sure to recover and keep in play. This will give your team a second chance. After the point, chat with the setter and find out what went wrong.
6. Look For Weaknesses in Your Opponents
As you are playing, it’s important to observe your opposition carefully. You are looking for any potential weaknesses that you can exploit. For example, they might not be synchronized when they are defending. Sometimes, holes will open up between the players.
By watching for these things, you will be able to know precisely where you will need to put the ball. Ideally, your shots will face little resistance and you’ll easily be able to score points for your team. Once you have identified these problems, you should pass them on to the other hitters.
7. Get a Higher Jump
To be a successful blocker, you’ll need to be able to get plenty of height on your jumps. This will often require plenty of practice in the gym. Here are some of the easiest ways to get a higher jump:
- Build your legs and knees. Exercises like squats are ideal to help you build muscle. They’ll target your legs, knees, and core.
- Do hurdles. Practicing hurdle running is a great way to develop the muscles needed to help you get a higher jump. It will also boost your cardio, so you won’t get as fatigued during the match.
- Condition your body. Conditioning drills aim to help build muscle and get your body used to the strain of jumping. The type of conditioning, and how often you need to do it, will often depend on your fitness level. If you are just beginning to play volleyball, it’s best to start with low-impact exercises. If you are more experienced, you should try to do two to three conditioning sessions a week.
- Set targets. Spending time in the gym can be draining, especially it takes a while to see results. One of the best ways to stay motivated is to set achievable targets. For example, you might aim to do two ten-minute conditioning sessions a week.
8. Control Your Aggression
Middle hitters need to be some of the most aggressive players on the team. But you’ll need to be careful about the way you display these emotions. Sometimes, this aggression can help fire up the other team, giving them more energy. Click here for How to Build Sports Team Chemistry
Instead, you should try to use these victories to help motivate your team. Don’t forget to compliment your teammates after a good game, this is one of the best ways to build team morale.
9. Learn From the Past
Being a hitter can be an intellectual activity. You’ll need to have a good idea of what strategy you are going to play. This will determine where you will be targeting and the type of hit you will make. One of the best ways to inform your strategy is by learning from the past.
Watch old videos of volleyball games, learning from the tactics that the professional players employed. Take note of when they decided to use each strategy. Talk about these matches with your team. It can also be a good idea to debrief after each game, reflecting on what went well and what you can improve. You can even get a friend to film the match. You’ll get a lot of insights by watching it back.
10. Have Practice Drills Regularly
You must attend practice sessions and go through drills as a team. This is about more than just improving your individual skills. It’s also about developing teamwork. You’ll learn how to react to each situation and be able to rehearse your most common plays. Through these drills, you’ll be able to work out any lingering problems that you are having with your setter. As a result, your attacks should be smooth and effective.
As a middle hitter, you will have a lot of responsibility on your team. You will have to block shots and work with the setter to create a strong attack. Thankfully, there are some easy ways that you can improve your technique. This will allow you to improve your confidence and score more points.