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Volleyball/My hitting is a mess! Can you help me?


I read what you said about dropping your elbow. "when you hit, keep your thumbs pointed together" what does that mean? along with "use it and lose it" ? i really just want to get to a D1 school, but i feel stuck. so also what kind of things will help me feel better?

Good morning Megan!
It's great to hear from you.  

Hitting is the most complicated skill there is in volleyball.  Many girls start doing it when they're around 6th grade, when they're around 5' tall.  Thus they learn all sorts of habits that limit them as they get older.  

a) The worst habit a girl believes in:  "Hit the ball hard!!"  Yes, hitting hard works OK when the girl is in the 6th grade.  Opponents are scared!   However, in just a few short years, the pace of the hit is secondary to WHERE the ball is hit.  
b) A ball can be hit much harder with a girl uses her elbow and chest muscles.  Thus those are habits she learns; however, this usually forces the girl to hit the ball deep; and as she gets older, this limits her success terribly!  In other words, the more a girl uses her elbow and chest muscles to hit a vball, the lower her elbow usually is when hitting, and the more likely the hit will go out, get blocked, get dug, etc.  

Now, what does a girl do?  
1) She must forget about how hard she can hit the ball
2) She MUST concentrate on how high she can reach!  In fact, this is the #1 most important element in hitting a vball:  "How high can I reach?"
3) "But, Coach Houser, I've got to hit the ball hard!"  Then AFTER you reach as high as possible, you snap your wrist and crunch your abs.  
OK, sure, the ball may not be hit as hard at first.  But, I tell the girls I work with:  "You're not happy with hitting the ball 30 mph into the block/net/digger. How about 20 mph down into the court?"  The athlete looks at me and says, "Let's DO IT!!!"

So, in order to be the best hitter you can be, completely concentrate on REACHING AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE!  This is accomplished by:
a) big backswing!
b) keep your arms together (thumbs pointed at each other) until both arms pass your face
c) If you're right-handed, the left arm will fall away after it passes your face.  This allows you to reach higher with your right arm, like you're reaching up onto the top shelf in a closet.  (you will "use and lose" the left arm)  
d) We limit the amount of elbow bend.  Why?  Because the elbow bench makes the timing so much harder....the athlete has to bend, then straighten the elbow WHILE trying to have it completely extended at the perfect moment when she's reaching as high as possible????  So difficult.  Hey, timing an outside set is hard enough.  If a girl is bending then straightening her elbow, timing becomes even more difficult.  

Megan, I'm giving 9 hours of private lessons today in Roanoke, Va.  You can see my schedule at   About half of those girls come to me b/c, like you, they've lost patience with a portion of their game.  Often, that's hitting.  I show them the same technique that make my 5'6" stepdaughter a front row player at the D1 level!  Yes, I'm serious.  You can see her here:  You may be surprised by how high she can jump.  However, try to ignore that.  Try to watch her execute what I have described.  

Some questions for you:
* Do you play high school vball?  And is your season over?
* Do you play club vball? When do your team's first tournament?
If you're done with school vball AND you don't have a club vball tournament until the start of the new year, then NOW is the time to try to convert to a "reach higher" hitter!!  Now! You have about 2 months.  Let me know if I can help.  You or your parents can email at  

My staff and I spend our summers directing camps!  Last summer we directed 12.  In South Carolina, the girls with hitting issues told me, "I wish you could help me all year around."  Yeah, having a person around who can see your issues and tell you how to fix them is really nice to have.  We'd love to come to your school.  Please share my website with your parents & coaches.  A STAR camp will be the best camp that you'll ever attend.  

Is there anything else I can do for you?
If so, please contact me anytime.  
I hope you are having a great weekend!
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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32 years coaching varsity, JV, club.

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BS degree from Va Tech in Math Education. MS degree from Va Tech in Secondary Administration. In the fall, I'll be starting my 31st year teaching high school math!

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The picture that you see is the 2015 15's team that I'm fortunate to be a part of. We will participate in 10 tournaments: Monument (Richmond) in January, Capitol Hill (Wash DC) in February, Shamrock (Roanoke, Va) in March and both BigSouth (Atlanta) and Northeast Qualifiers (Philadelphia) in April. My teams have qualified for Junior Nationals in '06, '09 and '12. We can't wait for this season to begin!

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