When going for the kill, using the most appropriate arm swing can be a big factor in swinging momentum for your team. Jason Mansfield, Stanford University’s assistant volleyball coach, serves up two of the most important hits in volleyball: top spin arm swing and high snap arm swing.
“[Determining] which swing to use is contingent on player position by the net and the opponent’s positioning on the floor,” says Mansfield, who coached up a middle blocker and an outside hitter to first team All-American status in ’06 and ’07.
Below, Mansfield breaks down top spin and high snap arm swings, which helped the Cardinal place in the top five for hitting percentage and kills per game on their way to the ’07 national title game.
Top Spin Arm Swing
What is it: a finesse swing that allows a player to place the ball at a precise location on the court
Who uses it: Outside hitters
Best situations to use it: When set is off net; hitting from back row; set is behind you or in awkward location
Benefits: Gives you the ability to go over defenders; allows you to drop your shot between defenders; helps you keep the ball on court and in play
Coaching Points: Focus on hitting bottom of ball // Keep hand strong and wide open // Contact ball with palm of hand // Maintain contact with ball as long as possible when snapping wrist to guide ball // Roll hand over ball to create spin
High Snap Arm Swing
What is it: a snap of the wrist hit that generates more power and speed
Who uses it: Middle blockers
Best situations to use it: Quick sets and over passes
Benefits: Quick, powerful hit to catch opponent off guard
Coaching Points: Contact ball as close to top as possible // Aim for top side of ball, rather than directly on top
For both swings, if you’re right-handed, Mansfield emphasizes driving your right hip through the hit to generate extra power and avoid shoulder injuries.