The ApproachI have been contacted for details on the approach, so here is an explanation of the approach and jumping technique. Coaches and players prefer (justifiably) a shorter, slower approach, which provides a bit more control. But if you want sheer & verticality, the mechanics described below will help.
To achieve the maximum leap your body can provide, you must generate speed during your approach and combine it with power as you plant and jump. Although the approach and plant are discussed separately here, you must always think of them as one fluid motion...and concentrate on doing everything quickly.
This explanation is for right-handers....
Prepare for your approach by standing about 15'-18' from the net, with your left foot approximately 18" in front of your right, your body facing the setter (for a right-side attack, your body will face away from the setter), and your weight resting on the ball of your left foot. As the set nears its peak, you take two quick sprinting steps, leading off with your right foot, to generate as much speed as possible. The second step (your left foot) should be on or behind the 3m line, and you MUST NOT TOUCH THE GROUND AGAIN UNTIL YOU PLANT AND JUMP.
| ||_____________________|L| || |R | |
Starting L | |
position R | |
|_____________________|Left-side approach for a right-hander
For many of you, this last step (from left to plant) will seem extremely long--perhaps *too* long--the first couple of hundreds times you do it. It's not. In fact, it must be this long if you want to maintain your approach speed *and* get into a powerful jumping position before you plant. If your last step is too short--and for many players it is--you will have to sacrifice speed for power or vice versa. Only with a long last step will you be able to maintain your speed *and* give yourself enough time to get in powerful jumping position.
As your body passes over your left foot and the 10 ft line, you prepare to plant and jump by getting into a power position, which consists of the following:
1. Extend your right leg out in front of you, followed quickly by your left leg, so that you can plant both heels almost simultaneously.
2. Get your butt low, and keep it behind your heels so that you don't drift into the net after you jump.
3. Extend both arms straight behind you, palms facing the ceiling, so that you can swing both of them as you jump.
4. Drop your chest toward your knees so that you can use your lower back as you jump. If you do all these things between the 10 foot line and the moment you plant, you will be in an excellent jumping position. This power & position, combined with your approach speed, will do a nice job of converting forward momentum into upward momentum.
The PlantThe plant--if you get into a good, strong power position beforehand--is a natural continuation of the approach. You will first contact the ground with your right heel, and your left heel will make contact, almost simultaneously, about 4" or 5" in front of your right foot. This staggered foot position is extremely important because it keeps your right shoulder (your hitting shoulder) away from the net. An instant *before* your heels strike the ground, you begin your jumping motion by uncoiling every body part at once. As you push with your legs, pull as hard as you can with your arms and lower back. (Many athletes find it more effective to think of jumping in terms of & pulling; than & pushing.) Violently block your arms when they reach about eye-level and block the pulling motion of your back (with your abs) when your torso becomes vertical. This blocking action is extremely important because it transfers momentum from your arms and torso to your center of gravity, lifting your entire body several inches higher. After you leave the ground arch your back and curl your heels toward your butt. You are now in a prime hitting position.