Volleyball is, no doubt, a tough sport. Although volleyball players aren’t expected to run for miles or tackle an opponent, we are expected to sacrifice our body to play a ball, sustain some gnarly bruises to save a ball, or go into over time for 5 straight games. Overall, volleyball players are already tough, but we have 7 suggestions to help you play even tougher!
1. Never let the ball hit the floor. The other team scores a point or ends a rally when they make the ball hit the floor on your side, right? So, just don’t let that happen! You need to stay alert at all times during play. Try to utilize the ball-setter-ball-hitter principle to help you stay one step ahead of your opponents. Watch where the initial pass goes – watch in case the setter is going to tip the ball – watch where the setter is setting the ball – and finally, watch the hitter’s hands and body angle to determine where and how the ball will be attacked. Using this principle will keep you on your toes for any tips, rolls, or hard-driven balls.
2. Win the first game of the match. Whether you’re playing best 2 out of 3 game or best 3 out of 5 games, one good way to play tough is to win the first game of the match. What you have to do is come out strong that very first game, which means you need to warm-up fully and efficiently. If you win that first game, it sets the tone for the rest of the match and it lets your opponent know you aren’t messing around. Also, it takes off a little pressure for the rest of the match because you aren’t trying to play catch up – let the other team play catch up!
3. Always think positive. This particular suggestion is asking you to be mentally tough which is just as important as being physically tough. Countless volleyball players, coaches, or whole teams start to shut down during matches just because they’ve made a couple of mistakes or a teammate has made a mistake and they get frustrated. Unfortunately, this bad attitude is contagious, and it trickles into the rest of the team. So, if you just stay positive, this negative chain reaction won’t happen. As an extra challenge, if you notice one of your teammates is starting to get frustrated, encourage them and try to spread your positive attitude before a negative vibe has a chance to take hold of the team.
4. Call for the set on game point. Somebody has to end the game, it might as well be you! Calling for the game set means you feel confident enough to end the game for your team, it also means that the rest of your team trusts you to end the game for them. Taking on this responsibility may be challenging, but just think of this hit like all the rest of your hits during the game – there’s no difference! Once you repeatedly start doing this, your confidence is going to grow and you’ll start to be hungry for the game-winning hit – which is the kind of confidence we want!
5. Play the game at your pace. In other words, don’t get frantic! First, when it’s your turn to serve, take a breath or two before you serve. This will keep the opposing team anxious on their toes and will give you a second to reset before you start the game again. The ball (and game) is literally in your hands, so use it to your advantage. On the flipside, if you feel prepared to do a quick serve to maybe catch the opposing team off-guard, then go for it! Also, when a rally is starting to get frantic, pass the balls nice and high for your setter. This is going to give your team a chance to reset and actually get a decent play out of the ball instead of an off-hit or a last minute free ball.
6. Positive Body Language. Always, always, ALWAYS have positive body language! This is simple, when you are outwardly exuding a positive attitude, naturally you’ll feel the positive attitude mentally as well. Plus, nothing is more frustrating for an opponent than a team that just won’t give up. Even if you’re losing a game, don’t show the opponent any negative emotions through your body language. Just keep celebrating any point your team gets, encourage your teammates, and recognize when your teammates have a nice pass, set, hit, etc. Your teammates and coaches will appreciate your positive body language!
7. Dig EVERTYHING! For this one, just stay ready and on your toes. Imagine the frustration from the other team if no matter what they do – tip over the block, swing hard, line shot, hard angle – you dig all of it! If you don’t allow the opponent to score by digging up everything they send your way, it’s going to allow your team the opportunity to score. Plus, your teammates and coaches will notice the extra effort!

Good luck employing these 7 tips! You’re already tough, but these might help you be just a little tougher! 

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