2019-09-11 03:56:00 CET
The best spikers in the world open up about what it takes to hit the ball in great fashion - and score the point
Jump as high as you can and just smash the ball over the net.
In principle, it seems like a pretty reasonable recipe for a successful spike, doesn’t it?
Well, the answer is actually a big no if you ask a professional beach volleyball player.
That’s what we did, even though “professional beach volleyball player” is probably an understatement in this case as Norway’s Anders Mol and Brazil’s Duda Lisboa were both elected not only the best spikers in the World Tour last season but also the Most Outstanding Players.
The Norwegian star and the Brazilian prodigy took some time with us to discuss the intricate details of a good spike for the opening article of our #Spiketember series and here are our main findings:
It takes a lot more than jumping and hitting
A good spike is a complex process that involves a lot more than just jumping high and hitting the ball. Talking to Duda and Mol, we could identify at least five essential steps for a successful spike – passing, approaching the net, jumping, making a decision and hitting.
As in most processes, all the steps have their own weight weight in the final outcome, but they opened up and told us which are the most important ones in their opinions.
“Passing is a big part of it for me,” Duda said. “I need to have ball in front of me all the time so I can see what’s going on at the other side of the court and make my shot decision. If the pass is not good, then the ball is coming from behind my back, then I can’t see what my opponents are doing and that could be a problem.”
“The approach, to me, is a key part of the process,” Mol reflected. “I like to start it far from the net and to move slowly, but as I get closer it gets faster and the last two steps are really, really explosive so I can jump high. I try to always hold it back as much as I can so I don’t get in too early or I’ll get under ball and won’t be able to hit it where I wanted.”
Spiking is a team effort
It’s just one player actually hitting the ball, but spiking is a team effort. Partners play a pivotal role on offensive plays, be it by doing their best when setting the ball on a perfect hitting spot or helping the spikers to make decisions about where they’ll place it.
“It’s desirable that the setter has his shoulders pointing towards the target so you know exactly where the ball is going,” Mol explained. “Every player hits a different kind of ball, but for me, it shouldn’t be too high or too low so every spot of the court is in reach.”
“My partner is very, very important, especially when I’m struggling to side out,” Duda added. “Sometimes I get into a bad run of plays and kind of lose my confidence a little bit and then it’s a great time to trust Agatha and follow her calls.”
Players have favorite spikes
Beach volleyball players can spike the ball hundreds of times during a long day of competition and, just like you, if they do something so many times, they develop their preferences. Be it a specific shot that’s part of their repertoire or that one hit in which they’re proud to have done everything right, these are the ones which memories will get smiles on their faces.
“My favorite shot is definitely the cut shot to the angle hitting the line,” Duda revealed. “I really like finesse plays and that’s one I really enjoy when someone gets it right.”
“Recently I had two really good spikes at the Gstaad Major final against Brouwer and Meeuwsen,” Mol recalled. “They didn’t bounce super high or were straight down but I felt I hit the ball so hard and they were perfectly-placed right at the line.”
There’s always room for improvement
It doesn’t matter how good they are, players are always looking to get better and Duda and Mol are no different. The ways they do it are the ones you probably guessed.
“Beach volleyball is repetition, so the only ways to get better are training, playing and watching video,” the Brazilian remarked. “My coaching staff offers a lot of valuable inputs to me and I try to absorb all of them and improve as a player.”
“Watching your own video helps a lot,” Mol detailed. “I used to do it a lot and it was a nice way to really analyze my mechanics and all the details. This way you can really see if you’re hitting the ball as high as you can, if your approach is right and fix whatever you need.”