It's no secret that to hit a volleyball hard, you need some serious arm speed. Many players struggle with this aspect of the game, as many young players have difficulty with the basics of just getting the ball over the net, while more developed volleyball players want powerful kills. No matter the objective, the volleyball spike, arm speed, and hitting power can be taught and trained effectively if done the right way. In this article, we will discuss how to increase volleyball arm speed fast, so that you will perform the volleyball spike with great power (you will be hitting the ball hard)! We'll also cover how to teach hitting mechanics correctly so that your athletes can both learn quickly and reduce their risk of injury as well.
Watch the Youtube video below to see an overview of how we instruct the volleyball spike attack motion.
Teach Mechanics First
If you want to increase your arm speed for volleyball (so you can hit the ball hard), the first thing you need to do is focus on your mechanics. Make sure you're using proper form to spike a volleyball or hitting the ball - this will not only help you hit it harder but also prevent shoulder pain and injuries down the line.
Training Hitting Arm Motion
Many young hitters think that the objective to hit the ball hard is to simply swing the hitting arm as fast as they can, but they often swing their arm like a longboard or stick. They don't understand that when swinging the arm like a longboard or stick, this motion doesn't create a lot of arm speed (so you won't hit the ball very hard). Swinging like this can cause undue stress, pain, and sometimes injury to the hitting shoulder and back.
Use the Arm as Three Segments
To create maximal arm speed the athlete needs to think of the hitting arm as three individual segments:
- Upper arm
- Lower arm or forearm
With the proper arm swing mechanics, hitting power is increased and injury risks are decreased which is what happens when the three arm segments move independently from each other.
The upper arm with the shoulder blade forms the shoulder joint.
We focus on a specific way to move the shoulder blade (the scapula) with the upper arm to connect to the power of the body core (when the hips and spine are turning as part of a power-hitting swing or volleyball spike).
When the upper arm and shoulder blade are connected to the upper body we call this being "connected."
We spend a lot of time learning and training this connection because it provides immediate power to the spike but it also dramatically reduces the isolated stress on the hitter's shoulder joint.
The forearm is important in developing speed as a very strong and powerful set of muscles called the "triceps" connect your forearm to your upper arm.
The triceps can create a lot of arm speed and hitting power on their own, however, add them to the power of the turn of the body, the shoulder muscles, and the upper arm and it can be very explosive!
Want some very fast improvements in your arm swing, train the strength, power & speed of your triceps.
The hand (through the muscles of the wrist) can get whipped through the ball and can add incrementally more power & speed to an attack swing.
Like a Bullwhip
The hand is kind of like the end of a bull whip. When a bullwhip snaps it's the very end of the whip that moves fast, snaps, and makes the loud "pop" you hear.
The hand is at the end of the arm and when hitters learn to use their arm and body correctly, the energy of the legs, hips, core, shoulders, and arms all end up helping the hand while through the ball and you'll often hear a loud pop of the hand hitting the ball when a hitter hast a fast powerful body & arm.
Powercore 360's - Arm Swing 1, 2, 3's
We have developed the Powercore 360 Volleyball Arm Swing 1, 2, and 3's as a way to teach athletes the proper form for a spike or more importantly for power-hitting mechanics.
Start on the Ground
Note that ultimately the athlete will need to learn to perform the proper arm swing motion in the air but that we teach and practice these mechanics with the athlete first standing on the ground to keep it simple and to allow them to FEEL how to correctly practice an perform the volleyball spike or attack movements.
Once they have learned the motions on the ground, we will teach them how to jump up and perform these motions in the air.
Step #1 - The DrawBack
For a right-handed hitter, the best way to develop a powerful spike motion or simply to hit a ball with power is to point the left hand up towards the ball, (which tilts the left shoulder up higher than the right shoulder).
Next, then the hitter should draw or pull the right arm & hand back, keeping it under the chin.
The elbow should be at a 90-degree angle as the right arm draws back.
Additionally, the underside of the forearm should be facing the ground.
Step #2 - Lifting the Hand Up
From the end of step #1 (the drawback), for a right-handed hitter, next lift the right hand up which in more technical terms is referred to as external shoulder rotation in more technical anatomical terms.
Make sure to keep the elbow angle at 90 degrees throughout this motion.
Step #3 - Step, Turn, Elbow Up, Hand Up & Follow-Through
The last step is more complex because to hit the ball with maximum power and with minimal stress on the hitting arm & shoulder, we teach the athlete to step and turn their entire body.
The athlete first steps with their left foot in the direction they want to hit the ball.
Turn the Hips and Shoulders
Next, the athlete turns the hips and their chest & shoulders from right to left.
As the chest and shoulders turn to the left, the right elbow angle decreases to an angle less than 90 degrees, and the elbow moves up towards the athlete's right ear.
The right hand then follows the right elbow up to move the right hand to the ball.
It's important to note that the hand should make contact with the ball out in front of the body and not contact the ball directly over the head or above the right shoulder!
The faster the forearm moves, the faster the hand will move up towards the ball and the faster the speed of the wrist snap. All of this results in the objectives of increasing ball speed to score a point and win games.
Proper mechanics includes the right arm & hand following the turn of the chest and shoulders to the athlete's left, and then the right-hand moves down towards the athlete's left hip pocket.
Repetition is Key to Learning
To speed the learning process and to ensure the athlete can use proper hitting form in a volleyball game, then the athlete will need to practice hitting every time with the correct motions over and over until the practice motion becomes an automatic game motion.
For this article, we suggest that volleyball players practice by hitting balls into a net or even against the wall so they can focus on using proper form while hitting balls.
When they practice, volleyball players should NOT be trying to hit the ball every time as hard as they can as that will likely lead to shoulder pain or even worse, an injury.
A safe practice progression would be to hit 5-10 balls at about 30-40% effort and then rest 2-3 minutes and repeat hitting 5-10 balls. Follow this practice routine until the hitter has hit 30-40 balls. Do this a few times per week and the athlete will start to quickly develop the proper form and start to be able to perform the proper hitting motion in a game.
Of course, it will take thousands of practice repetitions, over months or years, to memorize the proper hitting form technique.
Whole Body Rotation
It's important to note the best way to develop powerful attack swing mechanics is by learning to use & turn the entire body to engage more muscles, create more power and reduce the stress and injury potential on the hitting shoulder.
Hip Turn is Critical
For the sake of brevity in this article, we will just mention that practicing the turn of the entire body, starting with the turn of the hips, is the best way to hit the ball with speed and power and stay healthy long-term.
Strength & Conditioning
Once you have your volleyball spike mechanics down, start integrating specific strength training exercises into the training program because when the hitting muscles are stronger, the hitting arm motion will happen faster. When the athlete can use proper hitting form and has stronger hitting muscles they will be able to easily hit the ball over the net (for young players) and hit the volleyball harder (with greater power) for older players.
Strength & conditioning training for the volleyball hitting muscles and volleyball attack motion will be the subject of a future article.
If you want to learn more about how we train the volleyball spike or attack spiking motion, watch our FREE videos on our Powercore 360 Youtube channel here.