For the past decade, the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team has dominated the Western Athletic Conference, capturing 12 straight titles.
According to Thomas Heffernan, the Wahine’s strength and conditioning coach, being fast on the court has been a key component of their WAC takeover, and it’s the base to being a good player. “Ninety percent of the game is recognizing and reacting,” Heffernan says. “If you’re slow reacting to the ball, you won’t be in position in time to make plays.”
Heffernan offers up the following five tips to help you get a quick jump on the ball. He says to “work on these little components during practice, so when you’re in a game, it’s just read and react.”
1. Stance Get your body in a low, athletic stance with your legs shoulder-width apart and your weight on the balls of your feet. Keep a slight forward lean, too.
2. Arms Keep them in front—not to your sides—when you’re waiting to react. You want to keep everything in front of you so you can pass either way when you make contact with the ball.
3. Focus Keep your eyes focused on the ball and the opposing team. Being able to see the movement and positioning of an oncoming spike will help you know where the ball is coming from.
4. No false steps When taking your initial step to make a play on the ball, do not step back or waste any motion going away from the ball. Your first step should be powerful and pointed toward the ball.
5. React Once the ball crosses the net, move. There is no time to think; just turn yourself towards the ball to make a play.