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Volleyball/Tall youngster seems to hve eye-hand coordination/timing issues


QUESTION: My daughter is 14, 6'1", left-handed.  She has played middle school ball for a few years and club ball this past year.  She has done several camps and private lessons this summer.  She made the JV team as a freshman and practices start soon. Her confidence is shot in hitting because she can't get the timing - she was in a one-day clinic yesterday with a college coach and was missing the ball constantly during the hitting drills. All the coaches say "the timing will come" but she doesn't seem to be improving.  The coach yesterday said she needs to juggle, play catch with a ball, etc. to improve eye/hand coordination.  Is this something that can be overcome?  Thanks for taking the time to help those of us who love the sport of volleyball!

ANSWER: Good morning!  

Thank you so much for being patient with me.  Nine camps are now finished....and only two more to go. :(   Already...I can't wait for next summer.  :)  

Before I can answer your question, I have some questions for you:
* What type of sets is she trying to hit?  
-- Are the set low where she has to be jumping as the set is being made?  
-- Or are they high sets where she waits until after the set is made?  If she's hitting high sets, where along the net are these sets:  left? middle? right? or all over?  

Thanks so much for allowing me a few extra days.  I look forward to helping you and hearing back from you.  6'1" left-hander is a player with a very special skill set....let's get her fixed.  And if you're close to Roanoke Va, I give lessons (16 hours this weekend, in preperation for tryouts) and every Sunday night throughout the fall.  

If you ever need anything, please follow up here or contact me at  And please visit us at  I think you'll love the smiling faces.  

Coach Houser

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: They are mostly high sets during drills.  Mostly right/left.  

Unfortunately, we are in California!!

Good afternoon from Virginia!  :)
There are two rules about hitting difficulty:  
* The higher the set, the more difficult it is to hit;
* The faster the ball is traveling, the more difficult it is to hit.
I never either in a book, but know they are both true.  From watching thousands of kids play vball, the higher/faster the set, the more athleticism it takes to hit it well.  As a girl gets older, she will deal with the timing better; however, let's get even more technical.  Regardless of a player's age and experience and athleticism:
* The higher the set, the harder it is to decide when to start the approach;
* The further the set is away from the hitter, the more difficulty the hitter has determining where the set will land....a crucial skill that is unknown to most observers.  

One thing the coach said, I agree with:
* Timing will almost always come to a player.  What have I seen as factors that prohibit a girl from developming timing?  She has terrible vision, she is a very poor athlete (which some girls are), she's very uncoordinated, she gets very few reps.  I tell people, "Timing a high fast-moving set takes a similar skill-set a catching a fly ball in the outfield.  You have to judge where the ball will land, and how fast it will arrive there."    

Now....what can we do to help your daughter?
* The easiest solution:  Her coaches drastically limit the number of high sets that she hits.  I've had 18 year old tall girls who flourished with low balls, but looked like fish flopping on the shore when they tried to hit a high ball.  So....we stopped setting those balls to her.  
* If not hitting high balls isn't feasible/possible, then she needs the sets to be a low and "soft" as possible.  Why?  The slower the ball is moving and the less height the set has, the more successful she'll be hitting it.  That statement is not only obvious to me (who tried to hit a baseball when younger ....unsuccessfully), and is confirmed each day I walk into the gym.  Daily I see girls destroy low sets, yet struggle with higher sets.  Asking for a lower set is normal and neither her coach nor her setter should mind.  In fact, both should be thrilled when she starts connecting. to time a low set.
* If she's hitting a "2" in any area along the net from 3-zone to 8-zone, then the first step of her 3-step approach will have occurred when the ball is leaving the setter's hands.  If she has a 4-step approach then (a) the second step will have occurred when the ball is leaving the setter's hands.  
* If she's hitting a shoot-like set (low ball in the 1-zone or 9-zone), then she is leaning at the time of the set.  

I was just in California July 15-18 directing a camp near Santa Rosa.  I wish I could have met you guys.   

Can you send me some video of her hitting?  I may be able to see something that the college coach hasn't seen.  I'm giving 16 hours of lessons this weekend....I think I can/fix/help just about any player with anything.  :)  

Thank you again for visiting me at  
When I return to California next summer, I hope that we can meet.  
If there's ever anything I can do for you, please contact me anytime.
Coach Houser  


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Tom Houser


I can answer any type of volleyball question: middle school, high school, college, club, coaching, playing, etc. (I am not, however, a athletic trainer! If you have a knee, ankle, back, etc. question, I'm sorry, but please search for another expert.)

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