What Is Hitting In Volleyball: A Comprehensive Guide

Victor Holman

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Hitting In Volleyball

Volleyball, a dynamic sport that requires a blend of precision, teamwork, and athleticism, features an array of exciting maneuvers that keep both players and spectators on their toes. 

One of the most exhilarating aspects of the game is hitting, a fundamental offensive technique that can turn the tide of a match in an instant. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a curious enthusiast, diving into the intricacies of hitting in volleyball promises to deepen your appreciation for this sport’s strategic prowess and physical prowess. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of hitting, from its core definition to the mechanics that make it a formidable offensive weapon.

What Is Hitting In Volleyball?

Hitting in volleyball, also known as spiking, is a crucial offensive maneuver where a player forcefully strikes the ball over the net into the opponent’s court. This dynamic play involves a combination of timing, technique, and power. 

The hitter, usually a front-row player, approaches the net after a set from a teammate. As the ball is set into the air, the hitter times their approach to jump and meet the ball at its highest point. 

With a swift and controlled arm swing, they direct the ball with precision toward the opponent’s side, aiming to exploit gaps in their defense. A well-executed hit can result in a difficult-to-defend attack that scores points or places pressure on the opposing team. 

Successful hitting demands athleticism, accuracy, and the ability to read the defense. It’s a defining aspect of offensive strategy in volleyball, requiring coordination among setters and hitters to outmaneuver the opposition.

How Does Hitting Work?

Hitting in volleyball involves several key steps that need to be executed in a coordinated manner to successfully strike the ball over the net. Here’s an overview of how hitting works:


The hitter begins by timing their approach, which is a series of steps taken to build momentum toward the net. The approach varies but typically includes three steps. 

The player needs to time their approach to reach the net at the right moment when the setter releases the ball.


As the setter delivers the ball in the form of a set, the hitter must time their jump to meet the ball at its highest point. Timing is crucial to maximize power and accuracy in the hit.

Jump and Contact

The hitter jumps off one foot, extending their arm and hand to make contact with the ball. The contact point should be ideally above the hitter’s head and slightly in front of their body.

Arm Swing

Simultaneous with the jump and contact, the hitter executes a powerful and controlled arm swing. The arm swing generates the force necessary to propel the ball over the net and into the opponent’s court.

Direction and Placement

The hitter’s arm swing, combined with the angle of the body and wrist snap, determines the direction and placement of the ball. Skilled hitters aim to find weak spots in the opponent’s defense, targeting areas that are harder to defend against.


After making contact with the ball, the hitter follows through with their arm swing, completing the motion. The follow-through adds to the power and control of the hit.

Landing and Recovery

After the hit, the hitter lands on the court and quickly recovers to be ready for the next play, whether it’s defending or transitioning to another position.

Successful hitting requires a combination of athleticism, timing, technique, and anticipation. It’s also essential for hitters to communicate effectively with setters to ensure a well-timed set and to read the opponent’s defense to exploit weaknesses. 

A well-executed hit can be a game-changing offensive maneuver, creating opportunities for scoring points and shifting the momentum of the game.

Off Speed Hit in Volleyball

Off Speed Hit in Volleyball

An off-speed hit in volleyball is a strategic attacking technique that involves intentionally slowing down the speed of the ball during an attack to catch the opposing team off guard. 

This technique adds variation to the hitter’s arsenal, making it challenging for defenders to predict and react to the ball’s trajectory and timing.

In an off-speed hit, the hitter adjusts their approach, timing, and arm swing to create less power and velocity compared to a traditional powerful off speed spike. 

Instead of trying to blast the ball through the block, the hitter aims to place the ball in a location that exploits a gap in the defense or lands in an area where defenders aren’t positioned well.

Off-speed hits are particularly effective when the opposing blockers are anticipating a powerful attack and commit to jumping early. 

By changing the pace of the hit, the hitter can deceive the blockers and defenders, causing them to mistime their jumps or be out of position to make a successful dig or block.

How to Practice Hitting in Volleyball

Practicing hitting in volleyball requires a combination of technical drills, physical conditioning, and situational training. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively practice hitting:

Basic Technique

  • Start with mastering the fundamental hitting technique. Focus on footwork, timing, approach, arm swing, and follow-through.
  • Practice hitting against a wall to work on the precision and control of your hits. This helps you refine your arm swing without the pressure of an opponent’s block.

Approach Drills

  • Set up cones or markers on the court to simulate the approach path. Practice your approach to ensure proper timing and footwork.
  • Work on various approach options, such as quick approaches, slower approaches for off-speed hits, and approaches from different angles.

Blocking Interaction

  • Partner with a teammate or coach to simulate a blocker at the net. Practice hitting against a live block to improve your ability to find open spots.
  • Vary the blocker’s positioning to simulate different block scenarios you might encounter in a game.

Situational Practice

  • Incorporate game-like scenarios into your training. Work on hitting from different positions on the court, and adapting to various sets and blockers.
  • Include drills that require you to adjust your hitting technique based on the quality of the pass or set you to receive.

Live Game Situations

  • Play controlled scrimmage matches to apply your hitting skills in real-game scenarios.
  • Focus on communication with setters to improve your connection and timing.

Video Analysis

  • Record your hitting practice sessions and review them to identify areas for improvement. Look for aspects such as footwork, timing, approach, and ball contact.

Strength and Conditioning

  • Build your lower body strength and explosiveness through exercises like squats, lunges, and plyometric drills. A strong jump is crucial for effective hitting.
  • Incorporate core and upper body exercises to improve arm swing power.

Mental Preparation

  • Develop a pre-hit routine to focus your mind before each hit. Visualization can also help you mentally practice hitting successfully.

Receive Feedback

  • Seek guidance from coaches or experienced players to receive feedback on your technique and performance.
  • Be open to constructive criticism and make adjustments accordingly.

Consistency and Repetition

  • Practice hitting regularly to build muscle memory and consistency in your technique.
  • Remember that improvement takes time, so be patient and persistent in your practice.

By combining these elements and tailoring your practice routine to your skill level and goals, you can effectively develop your hitting abilities in volleyball.

Common Mistakes in Hitting

Several common mistakes can hinder effective hitting in volleyball. Identifying and addressing these mistakes is crucial for improving your hitting skills. Here are some of the most frequent errors to watch out for:

Poor Timing and Approach

Mistiming your approach to the net can lead to mistimed jumps and ineffective hits.

Solution: Focus on synchronizing your approach with the setter’s timing to ensure optimal contact with the ball.

Incorrect Footwork

Inconsistent or improper footwork during the approach can result in decreased power and accuracy.

Solution: Practice your approach footwork diligently, making sure your steps are balanced and in the correct sequence.

Weak Arm Swing

A weak or passive arm swing can result in hits that lack power and penetration through the block.

Solution: Work on generating power from your legs and core while executing a strong and controlled arm swing.

Overhitting or Underhitting

Hitting the ball too hard (overhitting) can lead to balls going out of bounds, while hitting it too softly (underhitting) can be easily defended.

Solution: Focus on finding the right balance between power and control, adjusting your arm swing as needed.

Lack of Ball Control

Poor ball contact can lead to inaccurate hits that miss the intended target.

Solution: Practice hand-eye coordination drills and refine your wrist snap to ensure consistent and clean ball contact.

Ignoring the Block

Failing to read the opposing block can result in hitting the ball directly into it, leading to a block and potential defensive errors.

Solution: Pay attention to the position and movements of the blockers, and aim to hit around or over the block.

Neglecting Defense

After executing a hit, neglecting your defensive positioning can leave your team vulnerable to counterattacks.

Solution: Immediately transition to a defensive posture after your hit to be ready for the opponent’s response.

Inadequate Communication

Poor communication with the setter can lead to mistimed sets and consequently poorly executed hits.

Solution: Establish clear communication with your setter regarding the type of set you prefer and your hitting intentions.

Lack of Variability

Relying solely on powerful hits without incorporating off-speed shots or directional hits can make your attacks predictable.

Solution: Develop a variety of hitting techniques to keep the defense guessing and create opportunities for scoring.

Ignoring Mechanics

Neglecting proper mechanics and focusing solely on power can lead to inconsistency and injury.

Solution: Prioritize proper technique and form during every hitting practice session.

Identifying these mistakes and actively working to correct them through focused practice and constructive feedback will significantly enhance your hitting performance in volleyball.

Differences Between Hitting and Spiking in Volleyball

In volleyball, “hitting” and “spiking” are terms often used interchangeably, but they can carry slightly different connotations in certain contexts. Here are the key differences between hitting and spiking:


  • Hitting generally refers to any type of offensive attack where a player uses their arm to strike the ball over the net into the opponent’s court.
  • It encompasses a broader range of attacks, including powerful spikes, off-speed shots, tips, and roll shots.
  • Hitting encompasses all offensive actions involving hitting the ball during an attack, regardless of the level of power or speed used.


  • Spiking specifically refers to a forceful and powerful attacking technique where a player jumps and smashes the ball with significant power and speed over the net into the opponent’s court.
  • Spiking is often associated with the traditional image of a hitter leaping to deliver a strong and aggressive attack, typically aimed to score points outright or create a difficult-to-defend situation.
  • Spikes are usually intended to be difficult to defend against due to their speed and trajectory, and they are a subset of hitting.

In essence, spiking is a subset of hitting, and while all spikes are hits, not all hits are necessarily spikes. The distinction between these terms is sometimes more about the degree of power, intention, and technique used in the attack. 

Hitting includes various attacking techniques while spiking specifically emphasizes powerful attacks with the goal of scoring points through sheer force or creating challenges for the opposing defense.


What exactly is hitting in volleyball?

Hitting, often referred to as spiking, is a dynamic offensive technique in volleyball where a player forcefully strikes the ball over the net into the opponent’s court. 

This powerful maneuver demands a precise combination of timing, technique, and power to outmaneuver the opposing team’s defense.

Who typically performs hitting in volleyball?

Front-row players, usually referred to as hitters or attackers, are responsible for executing hitting plays. These players coordinate with the setters to receive accurate sets and strategically position themselves for impactful attacks.

What are the essential components of an effective hit?

Successful hitting hinges on a series of coordinated actions: a well-timed approach to the net, a perfectly executed jump to meet the ball at its zenith, a powerful arm swing generating speed and trajectory, and a keen sense of ball placement to exploit the defense’s vulnerabilities.

How does hitting differ from other offensive techniques?

Hitting encompasses a wide range of offensive actions involving hitting the ball during an attack, including powerful spikes, off-speed shots, tips, and roll shots. 

While spiking is a subset of hitting, characterized by forceful attacks, hitting encompasses all types of attacking techniques.

What role does hitting play in the overall game strategy?

Hitting is a cornerstone of effective offensive strategy. Well-timed and accurately placed hits can not only secure points directly but also force the opposing team into defensive errors and disrupt their rhythm, giving the hitting team a significant advantage.

Wrapping Up

As we’ve journeyed through the world of hitting in volleyball, we’ve unraveled the layers of skill and strategy that make it an integral component of the game. 

From the explosive power of the spike to the finesse of a well-placed tip, hitting showcases the dynamic interplay between athleticism and tactical prowess. 

Whether you’re a player striving to perfect your technique or a fan cheering from the sidelines, understanding the art of hitting enriches your experience of this captivating sport. 

So, the next time you witness a player rise for a hit, you’ll be equipped with insights that allow you to appreciate the mastery and complexity behind each powerful attack.

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Victor Holman

I am a sports analytics expert with an extensive background in math, statistics and computer science. I have been working in the field for over 10 years, and have published several academic articles. I am a sports analytics expert with an extensive background in math, statistics and computer science. I have been working in the field for over 10 years, and have published several academic articles. I also run a blog on sports analytics where I share my thoughts on the latest developments in this field. But I specially love Volleyball. LinkedIn

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