Volleyball is a sport that tends to favour taller people. They will find it a lot easier to jump over the net. But that doesn’t mean that shorter players won’t be able to excel in the sport. In some cases, being shorter can even be considered an advantage.
If you are a shorter player, you’ll need to learn how to play volleyball smarter. By using the right technique, your height won’t become an obstacle. Keep reading to learn some tips to help you do this.
1. Become a Libero
One of the best ways to use your height to your advantage is by choosing the right position. For example, a shorter person might struggle to be a middle hitter. They are required to block the ball, which can be a challenge if you can’t reach over the net.
The good news is that there are some positions in which you will be better suited to playing. One of the best options is a libero. They only play in the back row and are the defensive expert. They will be responsible for chasing down the ball, keeping it alive.
They are also needed to be the leader in the back of the court. It will fall on them to be vocal, telling everyone what they are expected to do.
2. Become a Dedicated Setter
A second option that smaller people can explore is becoming a dedicated setter. In this case, you will be responsible for helping to coordinate the attack. The setter aims to get the second touch on the volleyball, getting it into position for the hitter.
The key skills of a setter are being able to get into position quickly and the ability to make accurate shots, putting the ball into the right place at the right time. These skills have nothing to do with your height, and everything to do with your technical abilities. Click here for 23 Tips to Become the Best Volleyball Setter.
3. Shot Placement is Key
When you are a shorter player, you’ll need to be more deliberate about the tactics you are pursuing. You’ll need to be more aware of the way that the opposition is playing. For example, you’ll need to look at who is making the blocking shots and where they are standing. You won’t have the height needed to get the ball over them. Instead, you’ll need to find a way of getting the ball around them.
Usually, this will require you to hit from further back, so you can be sure that the ball will clear the net. However, the most important element will be ball placement. You’ll need to spend more time focusing on this area in drills, so you can get the ball to any place on the court.
4. Boost Your Mobility and Reaction Times
The taller someone is, the longer their limbs are. This means that they might be slower to move, finding it harder to get into the right position at short notice. Speed is one of the areas that a shorter player will typically excel.
There are plenty of ways that you can improve your reaction times. Some of the best exercises will include:
- Quick catch. Have a coach or friend stand in front of you, with their hands at shoulder height. In each of their hands, they should hold a tennis ball. Randomly, they will drop one of the balls. You’ll need to catch the ball before it can hit the floor.
- Hit and react. Have a coach or friend stand at one end of the court. You will stand with your back to them. They’ll shout just before they hit the ball. You’ll need to catch the ball before it hits the court. This drill will also help you learn strategy. You’ll only have a few milliseconds to judge the type of hit, and use that to predict where the ball will land.
- Beep test. Finally, this is a good way of gauging your speed and seeing how it improves over time. Click here for Why is Timing so Important When Playing Volleyball.
5. Focus on the Ball
Having fast reaction times is only part of the puzzle. You’ll also need to be able to predict where it is going to land. The best way to do this is by looking at the opposing team and the way the hitter made contact. Was it a light tap or a more forceful hit? If you can visualize the trajectory, you’ll be able to get into the right position in time.
6. Get Good Hand Contact
Since you don’t have a lot of height, you’ll need to focus on the way you are hitting the ball. This will let you get the most out of your power. One of the best ways of doing this is by getting the right amount of hand contact on the ball.
You want to have as much of your hand hitting the ball as possible. This will give you more control, so it will land where you want it to. You should try to hit the middle of the ball. If you are hitting the sides, there is a risk that it will spin to the side.
7. Use a Swing Block
When you are shorter, you’ll need to modify your blocking technique a little. This is where the soft block comes in. This will require you to follow these steps:
- Begin in your typical defensive position. This will allow you to respond quickly.
- Position your body. You’ll need to start with a big step from the right foot, then a big one with the left. The third step should have you faced towards the hitter and the ball.
- Swing your arms. You’ll need to start to swing them upwards. A good arm swing might be able to get you a few extra inches of height.
- Push through your legs. As you are taking the final step start to push with your legs, the force should come through the balls of your feet. This will give you the momentum you need to get into the air and block the ball.
8. Work on Jumping Higher
When you are shorter, you must be able to jump. However, this can be a difficult skill to learn. The best way to improve your jump height is by doing some exercises. Here are some of the ones that you can try:
- Squat jumps. This will allow you to build the muscles in your legs and core.
- Box jumps. These will build strength in your lower body.
- Sit-ups. These targets the core, which will help you retain control when you are jumping.
- Burpees. This exercise works the whole body, so you can develop the explosive power needed to jump higher.
9. Condition Your Body
Jumping can take more effort for short people than their taller counterparts. As a result, you might find yourself getting more fatigued during the game. The best way to prevent this is by conditioning your body. Do some additional exercises to help you improve your cardio and build stamina. For example, you might want to skip for 20 minutes a day. You might also want to try doing some deadlifts or going for a run.
10. Talk to the Coach
Finally, it’s always a good idea to talk to your coach. This isn’t the first time that they have had a shorter player on the team. They’ll be able to help you find the right position. They’ll also be able to discuss strategies with you, so you know where to target your attacks.
Just because you are a shorter person doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to play volleyball. You will need to tailor your training and tactics to suit your height, learning how to play smarter. If done right, you can easily become the best player on your team.
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