A player who is able to play one of the outside hitter volleyball positions well is in constant communication and depends on their teammates rather than just their coach.
Clearly, an outside hitter needs to communicate with the setter, considering that is the player who sets up the ball to be hit. This is done by letting the setter know the hitter’s strengths and weaknesses, such as being able to hit the ball best off a higher set or setting further back from the net increases percentages, giving the hitter and the team a better chance of winning the point.
However, a smart outside hitter also communicates with their back row players. Back row players have a better view of what is happening on the other side of the court, so asking them things like “what is open?”; “what tendencies of the opposition have you picked up?” helps you hit the ball into more winning positions.
Athletic ability is such a big part of the game at all levels. It is really at college level and beyond, however, when the possession of power and a good vertical jump are what separate good outside hitters from great ones, particularly as at this stage players are more or less fully grown.
The advantage of having more power and a great vertical jump cannot be overstated, as it these attributes that have a direct correlation on increasing percentages and ultimately playing a large role in winning more matches for the team.
Working on Their Game
Outside hitters should constantly be looking to improve their game. They should never come to a point where they are merely satisfied with everything they do. Instead, great players analyze their abilities themselves along with important input from their coach and teammates.
There is always some aspect of the game that can be improved. For example, timing as an outside hitter is huge, so timing needs to be perfect not just 60-70% of the time, but 100% of the time.
Another thing great outside hitters regularly work on are the positions they’re weakest in. For example, some are weakest hitting across the line while others are weakest cross court, so they look to improve these aspects of their game.
We just mentioned how important a quick arm swing is in generating as much power as possible. After all, outside hitters are associated with their explosive power.
However, a good outside hitter manages to play this position smartly too. Often a finesse hit instead of a power hit is the better option to maximize the chance of winning the point.
It also makes a great change-up that can catch the opposition off guard and mess up their timing, particularly if disguised well, ensuring that the opposition never know what to expect when the ball comes your way.
Sometimes an outside hitter shouldn’t even be concerned about winning the point either; sometimes it is important to just keep the ball in the court via tips and roll shots. This is dependent on the position of the ball on the net as well as the set.
While attributes such as athletic ability and power are clearly important, it is consistency that comes up time and time again when talking to coaches about what they think makes a great outside hitter.
Anyone who plays this position well needs to not only be able to finish balls and score points at a high percentage, but also manage to pass well and keep any errors made down to an absolute minimum.