Once the initial movement patterns have been taught to our hitters, what they need to look at in order to make the best swing possible becomes a critical part of their training. Here are 3 keys you might want to spend some time with in order to help develop your hitters’ vision and decision-making ability as attackers.
Pass = Timing
When a hitter looks at the pass, the important decision to be made is “when do I begin my approach?” or put more simply, their timing. A hitter should be looking at the pass, judging the setter’s distance to it, and then beginning their approach at the proper time in order to have their weight on correct foot at the time of the setter’s contact on the ball (ie- weight on the 2nd step of their approach for faster sets. 1st step for a slower tempo).
See the Set
Sounds obvious but most hitter’s charge to a spot and then either jump or reach out (or both) to the ball. This causes them to hit the ball in a poor relationship to their body, thereby losing power and options.
There’s a big difference between staring at something, and SEEing something. When we “see” things we look at it with intent and extract pertinent information. If a hitter is truly “seeing” the set, there will be some direction to their step close in order to hit the ball high and with power. Tell your hitters to “see the set” and make sure the 3rd step of their approach is in line with the ball. If it’s not, they might just be staring at it. If their 3rd step is indeed in line with the direction of the set, they should be able to get there and hit it with a high, extended arm.
Swing for Daylight
Once we know when to leave (timing) and where to go (seeing the set) we can talk about where we should swing. The “daylight” or seams between blockers, is great information for the hitter. If there is no daylight (a well-formed block), the hitter can be taught to attack the edges. A roll shot contacted at the top of the hitter’s jump is another effective shot for their arsenal.
While shot selection and range is so important for a hitter, it’s important to understand timing and feet are what allows the arm to work. It’s amazing how hard even our “no armswing” players can hit when their feet allow them to contact the ball high and in front of them. Using these eyework keys for your hitters can help them to be more and more repeatable in this crucial phase of the game.