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Volleyball/What do OH's need to work on to play varsity?


I was wondering what types of things high school varsity coaches look for in outside hitters? I am an 8th grader who plays club and school and I want to know what to specifically work on.

Good evening!  
Welcome again to!

My answer tonight will not be like the answer to a math problem. I can't be that precise.  Why? It's because the answer depends one big thing:  Your coach.  So, in the coming months you will have to find the answer to the following question:  "What does MY COACH want to see in his/her OH's?"   

I can give you my answer to that question; and, in just a moment, I will.  But...suppose your coach's answer is significantly different.  Then, my answer doesn't do you all that much good.  

OK, let's get going!
What Tom Houser is looking for in an OH.

1) I need my varsity OH to be a confident hitter.  I need her to have confidence in herself, even if she's not having a great day.  You may say, "Don't you need her to be a GOOD hitter?"  Yes, that would be great!  :)  However, if she doesn't think, "I can do this every single night!!!" then she will crash & burn on nights when she's not doing well....and that will put her on the bench; or even worse:  if I leave her in the match, then she will hurt my team.  

2) I'd like my varsity OH to be 5'7" or taller.  If she's not, then she needs to have a nice vertical. Why?  (a) She will need to block some.  (b) She will need to deal with blockers who will be at least 5'10".  If she has neither height nor impressive vertical, then it will be harder to compete against the best teams on our schedule.  And I will be looking for someone else to do that job.

3) I really like my OH's to be primary serve receivers and defensive beasts.  If one of my OH's can't play back row, then I'll use a long as I have enough subs.  But if both of my OH's can't play back row, then I'll have a serious problem!  (Next is what your coach will have to think through.)  
     a) If both of my OH's can't play back row, then I will put my libero in for them. does that force both of my MB's to play back row?  
     b) Many MB's can't play back row. oh oh.  Can't have two liberos playing simultaneously.  Indeed, in school vball, having two liberos isn't even allowed!  So, do I put DS's in for my MB's?  In school vball, the 18 subs that I'm permitted will usually allow me to do this.  But in club vball, where I only have 12 subs, I probably can't put in a DS for one MB, and another DS for another MB.  
     c)  So, I will have to find a few of them to play back row...and OH's are usually the ones.

4) Other qualities:
Do I need my OH's to show the most leadership on the team?  No, not really.  
Do I need my OH's to be the best athletes on the team?  No, not required.  
Do I need my OH's to be good volleyball players?  good kids who are looking out for the team? cheer for the team whether or not they're playing or on the bench?  YES!!!

I may have created more questions for you than I have answered!  :)  
If that's the case, please follow up here or email me at   

Now, if you have a moment, please visit us at!  I think you'll like the smiling faces.  We're already directing 9 camps this summer, and it's only March 9!  If you want to attend a camp, or bring a camp to your school, please have your parents or coach check the website!

I hope it's been a great weekend, and you have a great week!


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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.)

I will almost always answer your question within 24 hours.

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In the past 10 years, vball has taken my to San Francisco, Miami, Alaska, Pennsylvania, both Carolinas, and Salt Lake City. We can't wait to come visit you!

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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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