In volleyball, a middle hitter is an attacking player who specializes in hitting the ball over the net from the middle part of the court. Middles are also critical as blockers, so can also be defined as defensive players. Middle hitters can hit the ball from in front or behind the setter. Learning how to be an effective middle hitter requires practice and determination. Specific drills designed for middle hitters will help provide the necessary skills.
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Hitting the ball over the net in combos will teach the middle hitter footwork and how to transition quickly off the net. The coach tosses a ball to a passer, who then passes it to the setter. The setter sets the ball up for the middle hitter, and he deposits it over the net. As soon as that first ball hits the floor, the coach tosses a second ball to the passer. The middle hitter must move away from the net quickly to get into position for another set. The coach can determine how many combinations to use.
Timing is critical for middle hitters. Hitting for repetitions is a good way to build muscle memory and endurance for middle hitters. This drill can be performed before a match, or before or after practice. Line up a few middle hitters with a setter just to the right. The coach passes the ball to the setter, who sets it to the middle hitter to deposit over the net. The player who hits the ball over then goes to the other side of the net to retrieve the ball, before returning to the back of the middle hitter line. The drill continues with the next hitter in the same fashion.
Slide Sprints Drill
A slide in volleyball is a single-leg take-off when jumping up to hit the ball. Slides can be an effective tool because the opposition can’t be certain where the ball will be set, and the attacker can hit the ball at different heights and speeds. To practice, the coach should toss a ball to the setter, as the middle hitter begins moving toward the setter. The setter makes a quick set and the middle hitter adjusts the speed of his approach to hit off a one-foot take-off. Place one or two blockers on the other side of the net to make the drill more realistic.
If – Then – Tip – Swing Drill
During a fast-paced match, it is important for a middle hitter to identify how many blockers are on the other side as the play develops and make the necessary adjustments. The coach will toss a ball to the setter, who sets the ball to the middle. The defenders will either set a double block, or move away from the net to play defense. The middle hitter must tip the ball to an empty spot if the defender blocks, or spike the ball if the defender moves off the net.