There is a school of thought that suggests errors in volleyball are due to a lack of technique. I have spent a fair chunk of my life up until now watching people play volleyball and have seen quite a few spiking errors. I think I am ready to make some judgements on what I have seen. Some spiking errors are indeed technical errors. Some spiking errors are misses. The player has taken aim at the court or the block and missed the target. Some spiking errors are lapses of focus and concentration. But it seems to me that a significant number of spiking errors are decision making errors. And the specific decision that players incorrectly make is ‘I have to hit past the block’.
Trying to hit past the block leads to two types of errors that look like something else. The first one is the error that looks like a technical error. In this case, the hand misses the ball, and the spike floats off somewhere into the stands. The player has seen the block and in trying to miss the block has hit a shot that is impossible due to their body position or the ball’s position or some combination of the two. The second is an error that looks like a miss, or a lack of concentration. In this case, the spiker sees the block and makes exactly the shot they are trying to make and is more shocked than anyone to see the ball landing out, buried in the net or rebounding off the antenna. The player has seen the block and in trying to miss the block has ignored the physical constraints of the court and hit out.
Next time you see a spiking error, think about what it is that really just happened.
And don’t tell your players to hit past the block. It is a recipe for errors.
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