The Approach - Torq Volleyball Tutorials

Isaac Kneubuhl, former USA Men’s National Volleyball Team member, has the keys to the approach for any outside hitter to help you gain speed and momentum for a precise and powerful kill. Check out the video. 

The Approach - Torq Volleyball Tutorials

Isaac Kneubuhl, former USA Men’s National Volleyball Team member, has the keys to the approach for any outside hitter to help you gain speed and momentum for a precise and powerful kill. Check out the video. 

The approach is an essential aspect in the success of any great attack. It directly impacts a hitter’s ability to effectively time a set, generate enough upward momentum at takeoff, and properly position their body in the most advantageous position to generate rotational force or torque, which we know is the most efficient way the human body produces peak arm velocity. For an outside or opposite hitter, the approach takes on even more importance, as the athlete needs to build speed and momentum over greater distances. The difficulty levels also rise as the speed, height, and location of a set tends to vary the further it needs to be pushed, making timing a bit tougher and often requiring the player to make adjustments.

As with every skill in the game of volleyball there is going to be some individual variation, but there are always common movement patterns that the best players do that younger athletes should emulate. A four-step approach is fairly universal at the elite levels, allowing attackers to build speed and momentum with relative ease. The speed and length of their steps increases as they get closer to the ball (with the exception of the fourth, as we refer to the third and fourth steps collectively as the step close). In simple terms we want to think of the approach as follows:

  • Step Speed - Slow to Fast
  • Step Distance - Small to Large

Generating upward momentum or vertical lift is largely dependent on how explosive an athlete can be with their step close (third and fourth steps). During this extremely short, but crucial part of the approach, the athlete should take advantage of the countermovement jump and double arm lift, which are directly tied together. A countermovement jump simply refers to rapidly flexing and extending the trunk, while simultaneously flexing and extending the knees, something that we most of us do naturally when we attempt to jump as high as possible from a standing position. As our trunk flexes or falls forward, our arms can go through a greater range of motion, which means more time for them to generate upward momentum. 

A forceful trunk extension, which occurs as the arms are accelerated downward and upward, also increases ground reaction forces, aiding in jump height. Here are some helpful keys to remember:

  • Chest/Trunk Position - High, to Low, to High (taking advantage of the countermovement jump)
  • Higher double arm lift (strive for above horizontal during the backswing), the greater potential for increased jump height

Lastly, the positioning of our body is crucial when generating rotational force or torque. Much like that of a pitcher, quarterback, or tennis player before a serve, attackers should position their feet parallel to their target area, which in our case is the opposing court. This allows our body to be in an “open” position, with our hips and trunk perpendicular to the net in preparation for rotation. While it’s not crucial to have the feet completely parallel, it does making opening the hips and trunk much easier.

This allows our body to be in an “open” position, with our hips and trunk perpendicular to the net in preparation for rotation. While it’s not crucial to have the feet completely parallel, it does making opening the hips and trunk much easier.

Following some of these simple keys can significantly improve the success of any young attacker. For more information and videos you can subscribe to Isaac’s YouTube channel Torq VB, follow TORQ’s Instagram at torqvb, or visit the Prime Athletes website at www.primeathletes.net.

Isaac Kneubuhl is a former Division I Collegiate All-American (California State University - Northridge), USA Men’s National Volleyball Team member, and former European professional. From Maui, Hawaii, he now lives in Southern California and is a full time trainer at Prime Athletes (Lawndale, Calif.) where he focuses on individual skill development of both aspiring and current volleyball players.

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