How to Crush It?
To hit a volleyball harder, the arm does need to swing with greater force and speed. However, just swinging your arm faster is a recipe to create shoulder pain, problems and surgery. The ideal way to increase arm and ball speed starts with the turn of the hips.
Fast Hip Turn = Fast Ball Speed
When the hips turn fast they can increase the force and speed of the arm to hit the volleyball harder and faster.
How Hip Turn Increases Arm Speed
Elastic Stretch & Energy
The body has muscles and other elastic tissues that stretch and build up elastic energy in them which can be used when the elastic energy is released.
Sling Shot Analogy
In a sling-shot, when you pull the rubber sling back, the stretch of the rubber tubing increases elastic energy in the band. When you let go of the band, this elastic energy is released to propel the object in the sling forwards in the opposite direction, with great force and speed.
The Body’s Elastic Tissues
There are two main tissues in the body that are elastic and can be used to hit a volleyball harder, starting with the turn of the hips:
Muscles are elastic tissues which stretch, load and can release elastic energy.
Underneath the skin and on top of the underlying muscles is an elastic tissue called fascia.
Body’s Elastic Sling
Both the muscles and fascia are part of the body’s own elastic sling.
It’s important to understand that in different parts of the body, there are bands of elastic tissues that tend to create more elastic energy than in other areas.
Left Lateral Line (band)
One of these bands is connected on the front side of the left thigh & pelvis, and moves up diagonally across the abdomen (stomach area) and then connects to the right side of the rib cage (and around the back of the upper body).
When the hitter’s shoulders turn to their right and/or their hips turn to their left, this movement stretches this elastic band which builds up elastic energy in this band.
When the athlete steps forwards and the pelvis turns to the left, this movement triggers the release of elastic energy built up in this band and it automatically turns the rib cage, chest and shoulders back to the hitter’s left, fast and with explosive power.
Because the arm is attached to the shoulders, when the rib cage, chest and shoulders turn back to the athlete’s left fast, this creates a whip-like movement of the right arm & hand which moves the arm and hand through the ball with increasing power and speed.
Watch the video below the see a professional volleyball athlete who creates explosive arm-whip from the turn of fast, powerful hips.
Training the Hip Turn
Most young developing athletes (and many mature adults) have no idea the difference between their hips or their pelvis. Even worse, tell them to "turn their hips" and they have no idea how to do that. So the athlete needs to learn how to turn the hips, with power and speed.
How Athletes Learn Sports Movements
Athletes learn sports movement fastest when they can FEEL the correct movement you want them to learn.
Old school coaches are still "telling" athletes how to move which is slow and many times does not work.
Using FEEL to Teach Hip Turn
Put a PC360 Hip Harness over the athlete’s hips (their pelvis), and then connect a resistance band to the harness and the athlete can immediately feel how to turn the hips.
We first train athletes to perform a throwing movement with a band assisting their hip turn. They will immediately feel how to turn their hips (pelvis) as part of the throwing motion.
Next, instruct them to turn their hips the same way and hit a ball versus throwing it. Immediately, with the assistance of the hip harness and resistance band, the athlete will learn how to turn the hips.
Strengthening and Speeding the Hip Turn
The faster the hips turn, the faster will be the resulting arm and ball speed. To make the hips turn even faster, so they can hit even harder, the athlete needs to strengthen the muscles that TURN the hips.
We use the PC360 Hip Harness but this time we change the band connection so the band now resists the turn of the hips.
We instruct the athlete to hit the ball five times in a row (against the resistance of the band on the hip harness) and then we remove the band and tell them to hit again. After 5-10 hits against the hip resistance, the athlete's hips will automatically fire and turn much faster.
Do this for 3-4 sets of 5 reps and then hit 5 balls at a time, 3-4 times per week and this athlete will start pounding the ball. Even better, they will not feel shoulder pain as they do when just trying to swing their arm harder or faster.
Adding More Power & Speed - The Torso Harness
Once the athlete is turning their hips faster, the next step is to move up into the muscles of the upper body to strengthen them. We do that using our PC360 Torso Harness and Resistance Bands and that will be the subject of one of our next articles.