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Shannon Coyne

on 1 April 2014

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Any activity requires the correct technique to use the available force and effect to maximum advantage"-
(Physical Education: Theory and Practice Davis, Kimmet and Auty, page 181)
According to (Wise GEEK ), the movements of volleyball are a complex combination of strength, power, agility, and finesse. Each of these components is comprised of intricate, small movements, the summations of which are coordinated acts of striking the volleyball in a desired fashion. Due to various aspects related to the biomechanics of volleyball, not every strike of the ball is perfect. Many times, mistakes made by athletes are due to the impossibility of executing hundreds of tiny movements perfectly every single time.

The major weakness in my performance of the volleyball skill, the overarm serve, falls under lack of power, as I am not getting the ball over the net, which stems from instability. If I am not in a comfortable, stable position than that has a knock on effect on my force application of where I contact the ball and of how high I toss the ball, which then affects my power resulting in the ball not making it over the net.
According to (Gagestein), balance is referred to as the foundation for movement and improves body awareness, power, quickness, coordination and control. In a nutshell, balance is your body’s ability to stabilise itself during movements that require shift of your centre of gravity. This is largely a function of a strong core and stable base of support (legs and feet), to be able to perform the overarm serve with accuracy and power, and with control.

By Shannon Coyne
Balance and stability impact significantly on my performance of the overarm serve as because I am not stable; my centre of gravity is therefore off centre as the closer the line of gravity is to the centre of the base of support and the broader the base of support, the greater the probability of maintaining balance. This means that the further a part of my body moves away from the line of gravity, the probability of maintaining balance decreases unless another part of my body moves to compensate it. When comparing a professional player to my performance in the ready position of the serve, their knees should be flexed with the weight evenly distributed over both feet, the upper body should be upright, with the chest open and slightly tilted upward as well as their eyes focusing on the ball, and their elbow should be in front of their shoulder at a 45 degree angle. Compared to my ready position, my weight is not distributed evenly as I am favouring the weight on my back foot, resulting in me not being in a stable position. Although my body is upright, my chest however, is not tilted upward; instead I look to be in an uncomfortable position slightly leaning over. My elbow is not at a 45 degree angle and is not lifted high enough, again putting me off balance. After the ball is contacted, professional players ankles, knees, hips, elbows and wrists should be fully extended to form a relatively straight line. By referring to the image of my follow through it is evident that this clearly does not appear to have occurred after I contacted the ball. My feet, knees and hips appear to form a straight line however, my arm seems to go off to the right and eventually my entire body turns in that direction when I land, causing me to dramatically lose my balance, almost falling over.
Contact forces are forces that involve the actions (push or pull) of one object in direct contact with another. In this instance, the application of force is simply the contact that you make with the volleyball. A low toss or inconsistent toss will negatively affect the performance of the serve. If your ball toss is low, then that means you have to chase the ball off balanced, which is exactly what happens in my performance of the serve when I toss the ball. Because the toss is low, in order to recover and make something happen, I usually lean forward, which drops my elbow, meaning that I contact the ball below the level of the net. In the end, this results in the ball not clearing the net. Another possible problem with the toss is that I may throw the ball too far to either side, too low, or too high, resulting in having to move my whole body accordingly which ultimately weakens my serve and makes it unpredictable. If I do this regularly, then it proves to be quite difficult to create a system for myself so that I can consistently serve strongly and with attack. In my performance of the serve, my point of application that I contact the ball varies. Most times I contact the ball on the side, causing the ball to spin sideways and results in executing a weak serve. Another problem that I encounter is that I contact the ball too low which gives the ball a back spin instead of a powerful execution.
To improve my performance of the overarm serve, there are numerous recommendations that need to be made. The first technique to learn as a means of greatly improving my performance of the serve is to mentally grasp the concept of producing some level of attack with my serve. It is believed that many players with serves that are inconsistent or ineffective need to first change their mind set about serving. For most volleyball champions, serving isn’t about just getting the ball over the net so the opposing team can start the rally. On the contrary, the rally begins with the serve, meaning the serve is used as the first “attack” you make against the opposing team. Therefore, it is significantly vital for me to learn to “attack” with my serve. However, firstly it is important that I must grasp the concept that this is a mental process. When it comes time to practice my serves, by applying this recommendation, I need to firstly decide to be aggressive with my serves in order to produce high velocity strong “attack” serves, instead of “wimpy” serves.

When I serve, a major issue that I encounter is the ball contacting the net, instead of going over the net. It is important that when you serve, you need to keep your elbow high in order to improve your volleyball serve. In biomechanical terms, this allows you to produce an external rotation, executing a powerful serve. When serving, if I drop my elbow, the ball will rarely clear the net, therefore my elbow needs to be high; making sure it is always above the level of my ear. This will enhance my chances of getting the ball over the net when serving.
The purpose of this assignment is to critically analyse my selected technique, the overarm serve based on a biomechanical perspective.

According to (Glenn Amezdroz, 2010), the term biomechanics is defined as the science concerned with the internal and external forces acting on the human body and the effects produced by these forces. Sir Isaac Newton discovered many of the fundamental relationships in mechanics that form a foundation for the analysis of human movement and physical activity. These understandings are encompassed in Newton’s First Law of Inertia, the Second Law of Acceleration and the Third Law of Action and Reaction. These laws help us to understand how the application of force to a body determines the movement of the body and how we can make such movement more efficient. On the basis of this understanding, we can develop new skills and detect errors within our performance.

According to (Turner, 2012), the biomechanics behind the steps involved within performing the overarm serve are as follows: (Refer to appendix for the steps)
In the starting position, when you draw your hitting arm back at the elbow, causes external rotation, horizontal abduction, and flexion at the elbow. In the ball toss, keeping your arm extended in front of you with the ball in your hand causes protraction and internal rotation at the shoulder. In the swing, at the start of forward swing of the arm, the shoulder is horizontally extended, abducted and externally rotated, and the elbow is in a flexed position. When brining the arm forward for the swing, internal rotation of the shoulder, extension at the elbow, and slight flexion of the fingers when forming to the ball is produced. It is also vital to snap your wrist after contact with the ball has been made, this puts down spin on the ball, causing flexion of the wrist. When adding momentum to the serve, it is necessary to take a step forward with your dominant foot as you swing and drag the other foot forward. This causes flexion at the hip and the knee of the leg stepping forward, which then turns to extension for both when the step is complete.

To improve my serve, in particular the ball toss, it is necessary that I create a “ritual” which involves tossing the volleyball the same way every time I serve. However, to do this, it is vital for me to point my foot exactly in the direction of where I am going to serve. To improve the consistency of my ball toss, the following drill needs to be implemented. Once you feel comfortable in a stable position pointing your foot exactly in the direction of where you want the serve to travel, hold the volleyball (in your non-hitting hand with an open palm) and throw it in the air so that it is approximately two feet above your head and one foot in front of you, paying particular attention to make sure you toss the ball the same way each time. Practice only tossing the ball into the air, repeating this several times, one toss after another. Let the ball drop without swinging it at, particular attention should be made to make sure the ball lands in front of the toe of your front foot. By repeatedly practising the toss will not only assure the ball will clear the net, but will also improve the precision of my serve.
It is believed that facing your target will greatly improve your performance of the volleyball serve. To do this it is vital to position your whole body, specifically your feet, hips and shoulders in the direction you are going to serve. Whether you face a particular opposing player or an area of the court, balancing and lining up in one direction will allow you to focus on the ball itself. If all your energy is going in one direction, it allows you to create more force as compared to having different parts of your body going in different directions. By applying this recommendation, it will hopefully help me to execute a more consistently powerful serve.

It is essential to make solid contact right in the middle of the ball with an open hand. Making contact with the ball on the side will make the serve weaker and cause the ball to spin sideways, while contacting the ball too low will give it a back spin, which is often easy for the opposition to pass. Serving with the side of your hand or partially open hand will make your serve unpredictable. When practicing the serve, it is critical for me to apply this recommendation to my serve as this is one of my major weaknesses. In practice, it is vital that I watch where and how I hit the ball as this will help improve the strength, speed and accuracy of my serve.
It is believed that serving should not be underestimated as once perfected; it can either ace, or set up the point in a competitive rally. It is a controlled opportunity to dictate play, and should therefore be mastered. The only way to make my serve stronger is to practice it continuously, as it is believed that “practice makes perfect”, meaning the more I serve, the better I will get at it, as your body makes little adjustments to get the ball in with accuracy. Also, by continuously serving can increase my fitness, and trains the exact muscles I am are trying to condition, improving my strength to then be able to execute a strong and powerful serve. Therefore, a final recommendation that I make is to keep on practicing my serve by also implementing the other recommendations mentioned above into my practice. This will then lead to a strong and successful performance of the overarm serve.
Step 1-
Stand with feet about shoulder width apart, placing your non-dominant foot ahead of your dominant foot. Your shoulders and hips should be aligned with the net.
Step 2-
Place your non-dominant hand directly in front of you, almost completely straight (but with a flexible elbow) and palm up with the ball in it.
Step 3-
Bring your serving arm back next to your head. Make sure that your elbow is pulled back and your hand is in line with your ear. This position may feel similar to that of preparing yourself to throw a punch.
Step 4-
Toss the ball up with your palm of your left hand (not fingers) about 12 to 18 inches in the air. Remember that you want your dominant hand to make contact with the ball just after it changes direction and begins to drop back down. Swing your dominant arm back at the same time, keeping your wrist rigid.
Step 5-
Bring your dominant hand forward and smack the ball with the heel of your hand, or the bottom of your palm. Try not to hit it with your fingers or the flat of your palm, as this will cause the serve to have less power. If you're worried about your fingers getting in the way, try to curl them down toward your palm. Add momentum to your hit by stepping forward with your dominant foot as you serve, drag your right foot forward, and hit the bottom of the ball with the palm of your right hand. As you are hitting the ball, send all your weight from your arm to the ball; this should add a lot of speed and force. Make sure that your serving hand is slanted slightly upward. This will help loft the ball over the net. If you aim down with your hand, the ball will hit the ground before it goes over the net (Ireland, J. 2011).
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