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Volleyball/Backwards footwork for overhand serving



My daughter, a freshman in high school, has a team mate that needs a little help with her footwork on her overhand serve.  The player is quite strong and is able to hit the ball over the net quite easily, in fact many of her serves go out, past the end line.  The problem is her foot work.  She is right handed and steps with her right foot.  Her body mechanics are working against her and she is really having to hit the ball very hard with her arm swing.  She has been able to really compensate for this improper footwork and feels comfortable hitting with this step sequence.  Is there any harm she can do to her shoulder or hip with this right foot step?  I have worked with her on the proper technique and had her throw a tennis ball to demonstrate the proper stepping.  Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.  The young lady really wants to progress in volleyball and has the height and strength to go a long way.  It appears to me this backward approach to the serve is also hurting in her approach to the jump.

Good morning Jeff!
It's great to hear from you.  
I work with girls every summer of every year who are backwards footed with their serve.  For some reason, their brain tells them to serve this way, even though they don't throw or walk or punch in this fashion.  It's the oddest thing.   A few thoughts:
* I have never hard of a person hurting themselves serving backwards footed.  But, that doesn't mean that it won't occur.  I tell my players, "There's a reason that NO ONE throws or walked backwards footed.  I'm not a physiologist, so I'm not sure exactly the reason.  But, likewise, there is no college/olympic/pro player who serves backwards footed. I will tell players, "If 100% of advanced players don't do it, then it's probably wrong."  I mean, would your player work math problems in a way that no one else would?  No. Date a boy that no girl has ever dated?  No.  Have a brain pierced?  Nope.   (A teenager will laugh at "brain pierce," but if you asked their parents, "Did any of you consider a tongue piercing in 1990," 100% of them would ahve said, "That would have been like having a tattoo."  Ahhhh, yeah.  
* Serving out.  This is fixed by simplifying her serves by taking fewer/shorter steps, by taking no step at all, by not taking the hitting arm behind her head (it's the "hand and abs" serve).  etc.   
* It's more understandable to me if a girl has a problem adjusting her spike approach after years of doing it wrong.  Why?  B/c the set coming at her takes full concentration and thus her body goes back to what it's always done.  But, with serving, no.  If you say "she wants to progess in volleyball," then this HAS to be fixed, and it CAN be fixed ....IF she really wants to fix it.  Why?  B/c there's nothing to take her attention away from the "toss, step, hit" of overhand serving.  This can be fixed just like we can change the way we hold our pencil when writing. It takes a "I will fix this" mentality.  At present, I don't think your player has it.  
* Finally you say, "hurting her approach to the jump".  Do you mean jump serving?  or hitting?  If she's backwards footed when hitting...ok, that's more serious.  But again, 99% of players hit normal footed.  I say 98% b/c occasionally I do see a college woman who has a messed up approach.  

Do you have any video of your player serving and hitting?  Occasionally, I get video, and that makes feedback simple!  If you want to send me some attached to an email at, or place one on YouTube, I can tell you what I think about it.

If your girls would like a fun, intense, inexpensive site camp this summer, my staff and I have did 11 last summer, and 50 in the past 5 years.  And for summer 2014, weeks for new hosts will be awarded on December 1st.  Please check out the details at  It's really easy for the host!  We do most of the work. :)  

Please contact me anytime I can do anything for you.  
I hope it's been a great week, and hope you have a super weekend.
Coach Houser  


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Tom Houser


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