How to Be a Middle Hitter in Volleyball

Three Methods:Understanding Your PositionBeing AggressivePracticing Your Skills

The middle hitter, otherwise known as the center or middle blocker, is a critical position in volleyball. Hitters are responsible for attacking the ball in offensive plays and scoring points for their team. As a middle hitter, you’ll need to have excellent offensive and defensive skills if you hope to be good in your position.[1] By practicing, understanding your position, and remaining aggressive, you’ll be able to drive offensive plays and score points for your team.

Method 1
Understanding Your Position

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    Study the zones in volleyball. It’s important that understand the zones in volleyball. In volleyball, you have 6 players and 6 zones on each side of the court. Each team has a front row called an attack zone and a back row called a defending zone.[2] Middle hitters will typically play in zone 3, or in the middle, front row.
    • The front three attack positions from left to right are Zone 4, 3, and 2.
    • The back three defensive positions from left to right are Zone 5, 6, and 1.
    • During the serve sometimes middle hitters will play the back middle zone, or zone 6.
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    Use a variety of hitting methods. To be an effective middle hitter in volleyball you need to constantly keep your opponents guessing on how you are going to attack the ball on any given play. Hitting the line means that you’ll be hitting the ball parallel to the sideline. Hitting an angle means that the ball will be traveling at an angle towards the outside defenders.[3]
    • A hard driven spike can be used at an angle or along the line, and is very difficult to defend.
    • A short or long line tip is used to trick your opponent into thinking you’re going to spike the ball, but instead, you lightly hit it through their defense.[4]
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    Communicate with your setter. The teamwork you have with your setter will determine how well your shots are going to be set up, and the tempo and timing that you share. Create verbal or nonverbal ways to signal to your setter, so that you can improve each other’s timings.
    • You can signal the setter with your non-dominant hand to let them know where they should set the ball.[5]
    • Talk to your setter about the tempo that you're both keeping. If the ball is being set too early or too late, make sure you adjust your timing.
    • Remember that it’s not always about you. If your setter is having a difficult time finding the right tempo, try to alter how quickly you are approaching the ball.
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    Watch championship games of volleyball to increase your knowledge. Watch champion games from the NCAA so you can observe technique from the best players in the world. Make sure to observe how they spike the ball, their timings, and any other strategies that their team may employ in order to make your attack more effective.
    • Visit the official NCAA website for volleyball at
    • You can watch volleyball games on sports channels like ESPN.
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    Share strategies with other hitters on your team. You aren't the only offensive position on the team. You also have outside hitters who will also be going for setups, and can help to throw off the defense when the ball is being set.
    • One hitter can fake the spike, while you go up and execute it for a quick kill. This technique is called a tandem attack.[6]
    • Another strategy you can use is to fake an angle shot, then go for a shot down the line.[7]
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    Talk to your coach if you are struggling with your position. If you have specific questions, then your coach should be the first one you go to. They will be able to help you understand where you fit in the team, and what’s lacking depending on the team's chemistry.[8]
    • If you are having chemistry issues with other members on your team, bring it up to your coach and see if he can determine solutions for you.

Method 2
Being Aggressive

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    Consistently approach the ball to confuse your opponent. If you always approach the ball the same way, the defenders will be tricked into thinking that you’ll be hitting the ball the same way every time. If you master your approach, you won’t have any tells and you can alternate between hitting down the line, hitting on an angle, spiking the ball, and short tips.[9]
    • Every approach should look the same as the last one.
    • Think of each approach as a systematic progression of 3 to 4 steps, a leap, and a hit.[10]
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    Expose holes in the opposing team’s defense. In order to score against the opponent, you need to expose holes in their block. Look for a hole in between the outside and middle defender [11] Watch the opposing team’s timing and try to find times where they are not synchronized when blocking the shot.
    • Watch the middle and outside defender’s timing when they leap to block the ball. Try to find tendencies in their play that you can exploit to get a kill.
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    Penetrate the net when blocking the ball. Part of being a middle hitter is also being a good middle blocker. When you block the ball, make sure that you penetrate the net deep so you can hit the ball straight down.
    • Penetrating the net also brings you closer to the opposing attacker which makes it more difficult for them to attack the ball.[12]
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    Mix up your shots and hits to confuse your opponent. You never want to become predictable as the middle hitter. Mixing up your shots while having the same approach will confuse the defense. Do a variety of shots, and practice shots that you aren’t good at.
    • Alternate between tips, and spikes, shots down the line and shots at an angle in order to really confuse your opponents.

Method 3
Practicing Your Skills

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    Practice hitting down the line and at an angle. You will be performing mostly angle or down the line attacks when you are playing. Make sure that you master both of these types of attacks to become an efficient middle hitter.[13]
    • Drill with a hitter and setter on the other side of the net to improve your technique.
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    Drill different plays regularly with your team. It’s important that other than honing your own skills, that you refine your team’s chemistry. Make sure to practice with the setter that will be setting the balls for you during actual games.
    • Teams run different types of set-ups, like a 4-2 system where 4 players are designated as hitters and 2 players are designated as setters.[14]
    • Don’t skip practice or you may not know how your team will react to plays in the game.
    • If a teammate needs help, make sure that you try to assist them in any way possible.
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    Master your vertical leap. Exercise your core, legs, back, and hip muscles to increase your vertical leap. You will need a high vertical in order to jump up for the ball that the setter sets for you.
    • Jumping hurdles and other plyometrics exercises can also assist in increasing the height of your vertical leap.
    • Do conditioning drills 2-3 times a week if you have a less than average vertical leap height.[15]

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Categories: Volleyball