There are (at least) three myths in volleyball.
‘It’s all about repetitions’
‘Good setters see the block’
‘Good spikers can spike in every direction’
I have never written about the second, but I can assure that it is not true.
The third myth was part of the background to my recent ‘Everything Is Timing‘ post. In that post, I asked the question ‘At what moment does the spiker decide whether to spike cross court or down the line?’ That is the big decision that spikers must make.
The poll results were interesting. Over 50% of respondents answered that the spiker makes this major decision when he sees the blockers hands, i.e. at the very last moment. I am reasonably certain that this is the only incorrect answer. For that statement to be true, it would require a spiker to be able to control his armswing in to spike in a full 90° range after the motor program has been initiated. I suggest that is improbable. You will find that spikers who seem to spike in every direction, don’t do so with full power. One of the directions is most often a shot or some kind.
The reality, I believe, is that the spiker chooses his main direction (line or cross) early in the process. In some cases the set dictates the spike direction (‘the set leads the spiker’). In other cases, the spiker sees the starting position of the blockers, or some characteristic of their movement. In still other cases, a spiker just has a favourite shot. Once the main decision has been taken, the spiker can then make small adjustments of height, angle and timing much later depending on the final movements of the blockers. This explains the phenomenon of a spiker who is effective even though he always hits the same shot. And the phenomenon of the ‘cross’ spiker who suddenly hits line.
Sometimes things aren’t the way you think they are.
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