To be effective, an attacker needs not only be able to hit the ball hard but also to have a variety of shots available. The more shots an attacker has, the harder it will be for the opponent to predict where the attacker will hit the ball, and the more success the attacker will have.
• Sharp angle hit. The attacker hits the sharp angle by dipping the shoulder nearer to the net. The left-side attacker contacts the left side of the ball using the wrist and forearm to cut the ball inside the block, following through with the thumb pointing downward (reverse for right). The ball should land between the two front-court and back-court defenders or in front of the 10-foot line.
• Line hit. The attacker should make the normal approach and turn in the air to attack down the line. Attackers should always make the same approach so that the opponents cannot anticipate the shot. On seeing that the line is open, the attacker should rotate the hips toward the line and contact the ball before it crosses the midline of the body, aiming about two feet from the corner of the court.
• Deep corners hit. Attacking the deep corners of the court instead of hitting straight down keeps the defense guessing. The defense cannot be everywhere, and most defensive systems leave the corners open. The logic is that the block should take away this part of the court and if an attacker hits over the block into the corner, the defense should have enough time to run the ball down. But it is amazing how often the attack to the deep corner scores.
• Roll, or off-speed shot. To hit the roll, or off-speed, shot the attacker should contact the ball toward the bottom of the ball with the heel of the open hand. At contact, the attacker rolls the fingers over the top of the ball and finishes by snapping the wrist, which creates backspin on the ball. The most common mistake attackers make when they hit an off-speed shot is decelerating into the approach, giving the defense an indication that they are not attacking the ball.
• Tip, dump, dink. The tip is executed by opening the hand and contacting the ball with the pads of the fingers. The attacker makes contact toward the bottom of the ball and follows through with the hand in the direction of the tip, softly lobbing the ball over the block into an open space in the opponent’s defense. Another option on the tip is to contact the ball at a higher point and quickly shove the ball down into the opponent’s court. This option is especially effective if the block is late or there is a hole in the block and the ball is set tight to the net.
• Tool, or wipe off. Tooling, or wiping off, the block is frustrating for the block, and every attacker should know how to perform this attack. Attackers are often afraid of the block and try to avoid it altogether. Instead, attackers should feel comfortable going after the block. The attacker makes contact on the side of the ball opposite where he or she wants to hit the ball. The attacker hits partially into the block and then follows through out of bounds. A left-side attacker hitting from position 4 would contact the right side of the ball and follow through to the left of the body. The same would apply for an attacker hitting from position 2. The attacker would contact the left side of the ball and follow through to the right of the body.
• High and flat. The high, flat hit is a good option when the set is not in the perfect spot (off the net, inside, or wide), or when the attacker wants to push the defense back. Contact should be in the center of the ball, and the attacker should swing hard, high, and flat (aiming for the back wall), sending the ball off the block and past the defensive players.
• Seam, or hole, in the block. The seam shot is always a smart shot for attackers, especially if they are not sure what to do with the ball. Hitting the seam in the block can cause a lot of stress for the opponent, especially if the block is not well formed. Deflections can rebound off the blockers and catch the defense off guard. By attacking the seam the attacker may take advantage of a hole in the block or occasionally get a tool off the block.
• Rebound, or replay, off the block. When the attacker is trapped and cannot hit around, over, off, or through the block, the replay off the block is a smart option. The attacker should tap the ball into the opposing blockers and play the ball as it rebounds off the blockers’ hands.
This is an excerpt from The Volleyball Coaching Bible.