Indeed volleyball is a sport in which height matters a lot but is it the only thing considered? Can’t one become a good player with short height? How to excel in this sport when one is below the average height? If these questions are popping up in your mind as a short volleyball player or just a curious soul, you have access to the right article. Here we have elaborated on what matters in volleyball to achieve success as a short player and shared some tips to feed your curiosity and knowledge.
There is a stigma going around that volleyball is not a game for short people, where short refers to below-the-average height, which is 6.43 feet for males and 6.28 feet for female players. It can not be denied that being tall is advantageous in this game, as the net height would be difficult to reach otherwise. Still, it is not the only thing required to win. Agility, quick response, intelligent techniques, and use of momentum make a player good in this sport. In simple terms, if one looks short among the giants of the team, he must have the upper hand in other essential skills. That’s the only way to survive in the team and success.
How to take advantage of being short?
Being short may not seem like an advantage in volleyball initially, but as the game is about agility, speed, and skills, height is not the only factor behind the best-performing teams. Moreover, shorter players have a few advantages over taller ones, allowing them to excel in the game. Some of those advantages are mentioned below.
Faster reaction time
Though it might not apply to every short player, it is usually observed that players with comparatively less height can move quickly around the court. The reason for such belief is based on the reaction time concept. It refers to the time gap between stimulus and response. Short players are believed to be more agile and quick because the information takes less time to travel from the brain to the limbs. As volleyball is about quickly judging the ball’s movement and responding to it, this ability allows the players to attack or defend on time and helps them cover up for being short in the game.
Acceleration in humans refers to the ability to gain speed which is believed to be better in shorter people. This belief is based on the relationship between height and gravitational pull on the body. Tall people have more gravitational pull over their bodies which does not allow them to move faster. On the other hand, shorter people move faster as they have less gravitational pull. This characteristic helps in volleyball as the players must keep moving around the court to serve, hit or pass the ball. Thus, a player with a shorter height can move faster.
Focus on specific positions
Volleyball is a sport that requires a mix of various skills, such as speed, technical knowledge, defense, attacking, and passing. Thus, the team is formed with players that are good in one or more of these skills. Though taller players are more desirable for positions such as blocking and spiking, it does not restrict shorter players from performing these. Still, it would be good for a short player to think practically about specific positions to target and work hard rather than aiming for positions that require better height. Here are those positions that a short player can target.
Libero is the member of the team that is observed in a different color jersey to differentiate him from other members and apply the rules explicitly set for that position. His role is more of defencing and passing the ball while requiring speed and quick reaction time. The player is required to reach the ground faster in order to handle fastballs in less time and does not need high jumps, making this position suitable for shorter players.
Outside hitter positions require a player that is good at multiple skills than just being tall. He is expected to be able to defend, pass and block well. Thus, if a shorter player can master these skills, he can easily take this position and become well-rounded. The only thing to consider is that getting good with all these skills with a short height will be challenging, but this is the only way to compensate for being short. Also, blocking is considered the most challenging to excel at, even for tall players. So, practice and hard work are the leading factors.
Leadership and decision-making skills are the preference for this position. The setter is matched up with an attacker and helps coordinate the attack, i.e., he positions the ball for the hitter. He is required to be good at making the right shot in the right direction and at the right time, which has less to do with height. Therefore, if a short player can develop these skills and act as a leader, he can also focus on this position.
Overcome blocking weakness
A good height is indeed required to get the ball in the opposite team’s court, which is necessary for fulfilling the ultimate objective of scoring points in the game. As discussed above, if a player is able to work on skills required for the game, he can be good even with short height. Still, blocking is a weakness for all short players, which can only be overcome by proper techniques and practice. Here are some tips and techniques to become better at blocking being short.
Keep your arms close for the block
It is often observed that some players tend to spread their arms on the block to cover more area and be able to block with a single hand. This position is not very promising for tall players and will rarely be useful for shorter ones. As the hitter of the opposite team will be tall, the ball will most probably pass through the space between both arms or may slightly touch an arm leading to a failed block attempt. Thus, short players must focus on quickly judging the ball’s direction and keep their arms close for a better or even successful block attempt.
Practice vertical jumps
If a player aspires to excel in blocking, he simply can’t avoid the requirement to jump high by doing good at other skills. High vertical jumps are essential for blocking; practicing these will help overcome height limitations over time. Though being able to block like a pro when one is short will take time and lots of practice, it will be worth it.
Adopt swing blocking technique
Swing blocking is a way of blocking alternative to vertical jumps. It is often practiced by teams as a triple block over the net. It is an approach to gather momentum for a jump by shorter players as it involves a multiple-step approach, allowing the player some space to block. The movement direction of the player depends on the opposite team’s player position. For instance, if the outside hitter of the opposite team is attacking, the blocking player will need to move in the right direction from the base defense position.
The player is then required to take three steps toward the required direction with the first two significant steps with the right and left foot, respectively, to build momentum. The third and last step will be a short one with the right foot to lead to a high jump and swing of the arms in the direction of the block.
Consider soft blocking
The purpose of soft blocking is to disturb the opposite team’s spike and make it easy for your team’s defense player to perform his part by getting the hands in the way of the ball. The player is not required to jump above the net for soft blocking. Instead, he extends his arms as high as possible to change the direction and speed of the ball.
Some tips to overcome height limitations
There is no doubt that volleyball tends to favor tall players as they are able to reach above the net without much effort. But it does not restrict shorter players from excelling in this sport. Even shorter players have some advantages over tall players, which are essential in the game, such as quick response, agility, and defencing. The way to succeed for shorter players is to play more intelligently, and here are some general tips for the same.
Use shoes with high soles
Picking volleyball shoes with more cushioning is the simplest way to overcome a few inches of difference and play in the position of setter or outside hitter. If a short player is playing as a libero, shoes with less cushioning will be his preference to stay close to the ground. Otherwise, he can aim for other positions as well with shoe cushioning if his height is not too short than other players.
Achieve good ball control
This skill is challenging to learn, even for tall players. The shorter players have better agility and muscle proportion, so they have good chances of excelling. Controlling a ball requires good judgment skills, attention, and passing skills. Thus, practicing ball control can help one overcome the limitations of being short.
Short players have shorter limbs, so they can generate a certain degree of force in less time and have a quick reaction time. It is an advantage for them over tall players. Thus, they need to train harder in other aspects of the game, such as speed and mobility, to become a pro in strength and control, which can be achieved through strength training and drills.
Height has been a preference for volleyball team selection, as it seems like a basic need for this game. But, it does not mean that coaches do not consider other aspects and skills of the player. If a short player can demonstrate skills that overcome his height limitations and help the team perform better, nothing can stop him from joining. While height is essential in volleyball, skills and dedication in practice are more important.
The article has made clear that there are ways to become a better player, even if one is short, which include excelling at other skills and some tips for blocking. There are various drills shorter players should practice for fast reactions and blocks, such as wall jumps, etc. Focusing on vertical leaps is also essential for becoming a hitter with less height and will drastically improve all areas in the game.