The cut in volleyball involves hitting the ball hard towards the ground on your opponent's side. You wait until the setter puts the ball close to the net and then you approach it, jump in and go all out. If the ball hits the ground before the other team can retrieve it, your team gets one point. Once you learn the basics of slashing, practice alternative techniques and work on the strength of your attacks.
Part 1 of 3: The Basics of Slicing
Step 1. Stay in position
Volleyball rules state that to hit the ball over the net you must be one of the front row players. The most effective is to hit the ball on the right or left side at an acute downward angle. Whether you're hitting the ball from the front right or left position, get behind the 3m line or line of attack, which is about 4 paces away from the net.
- If you have long legs or take longer steps, stand a little further back.
- If you are left-handed, you can make a stronger cut by approaching the left side of the court, and vice versa if you are right-handed. If you're tall or can jump really high, try starting near the middle.
Step 2. Observe the lifter
The person in the center position will lift the ball toward you, arching it so that it lands close to the net in a position that makes it easier to send it to the other side. You will start your approach after the ball is released.
- When practicing the cut, work with a skilled lifter. The ball should go up and down in a smooth arc near the net, making it the perfect position for you to cut.
- As you practice with your team, let your teammates know that you are going to cut. Many teams create codes, so use them if yours has any.
Step 3. Stay in correct posture
Face the ball and bend your knees to get ready to move. If you are left-handed, your left foot should be behind your right; if right-handed, the right foot is behind the left.
Step 4. Take the first step towards the ball
Step hard with your left foot towards the ball. If you are left-handed, do the opposite.
Step 5. Take a strong second step
Step with your right foot to gain speed (or with your left if you're left-handed). At the same time, swing your arms behind you to prepare for the cut. The distance for this second step will vary according to the position of the ball: if it is closer to you, take a small step; if it's further away, take a bigger step.
Step 6. Take a final step to get your feet straight
Take another step with your left foot (or right, if you're left-handed) and finish with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees bent. Your arms should be swiveled behind you.
- Arm movement is essential when it comes to the height of your jump: a well-timed movement will help you climb, so practice to get the timing right.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart so you don't lose your balance.
- Keep your head up to watch the ball fall towards you.
Step 7. Jump as the ball gets into position
When you land on your last step, your body should be facing 30 degrees from the net, with your dominant arm's shoulder farthest from the net. Jump hard up and swing your arms forward at the same time to jump high. The higher you jump, the stronger your serve.
Step 8. Raise your hand to cut
When you reach the top of your jump, your arms should be above your head. Pull your dominant shoulder back and tilt it to a 90-degree angle. Your hand should now be at head level.
Step 9. Hit the ball with the center of your hand
With your hand open and fingers together, swing your arm over your shoulder and flick with your forearm to move your hand quickly toward the ball and make contact with it. Click your wrist down quickly to spin the ball forward and down towards your opponent's court.
- Try to hit the ball when it is at the maximum height of your jump to maximize the power of the cut.
- Lower your arm "by" the ball and close to your body so you don't lose momentum during the attack.
- Playing the net is against the rules. Bring your arm back to your body after the cut to avoid being penalized.
- Be careful not to "load" or "hold" the ball for even a second, which is also against the rules.
Step 10. Bend your knees when your feet land
This movement will help you regain balance and prevent an ankle injury. Be careful not to fall into the net when landing.
Step 11. Return to position
If the opposing team returns the ball, you will need to be ready for more action: step away from the net and return to your position, keeping an eye on the ball at all times.
Part 2 of 3: Increasing Your Strength
Step 1. Practice footwork without the ball
When learning how to make a cut, it's important to get the footwork right, so practice until you know the approach well enough to do it in your sleep. Remember to start behind the line of attack and move towards the imaginary ball. Focus on mastering a quick and strong approach.
Step 2. Practice the movement with your arms as much as you can
Pick up a volleyball and practice hitting it against a wall several times. Throw it in the air or lift it to yourself and practice stepping back and cutting it. Remember to throw your forearm forward by bending your elbow and rotating it toward the ball. The faster you can make this move, the stronger your cuts will be.
- Practicing alone is good, but it also helps to work with a partner who can lift the ball for you so that you can work on the whole approach, with the jump and arm movement.
- Try to make solid contact with the ball by moving your wrist and moving forward.
Step 3. Increase your jump height
That time depends on your whole approach, not just the final step. Walk toward the ball forcefully to start gaining momentum and swing your arms back quickly while bending your knees. When jumping, your entire body should move in a forward thrust, putting you in the best possible position to hit the ball.
- Practice jumping as high as you can and hit the ball on top of the jump every time.
- Try working with a cut trainer. This is a device that holds the ball in a high position, forcing you to jump high enough to hit it at the top of the jump and cut it out of the device.
Step 4. Set the timing
Knowing exactly when to hit the ball can really impact the strength of your shot. You should time your approach so that you are able to make contact with the ball as soon as it reaches the point where your hand can knock it down while you are still at the top of the jump. Timing is one of the most important skills to master, and with just enough practice you will be able to maximize your cut.
- To work on your timing, practicing with a good lifter can be beneficial. Work with someone who is able to lift the ball well and in the correct position for you to hit the top of the jump.
- Keep an eye on the ball as you approach for the spike. If you hit it with your fingertips or the underside of your hand, you'll know you missed the timing.
Step 5. Always continue the movement
Continuing is essential for a powerful cut, as without doing so, you will be forced to stop the hand movement before it has a chance to even hit the ball at full speed. The key is to proceed without touching the net: bend your elbow as you continue the movement to keep your arm close to your body rather than hitting it.
Step 6. Do strength exercises
Serious volleyball players do special exercises to improve their calves, abs, rotator cuffs and other muscles that allow them to jump hard in the air. Work with your trainer to begin an exercise routine that will help you jump higher. Here are some exercises to try:
- Do push-ups. You can start with your hands on the floor or on an exercise ball, which also helps give your shoulders stability. Do three sets of fifteen push-ups each, increasing the reps as you gain strength over time.
- Hit the ball with both hands over your head. Use a medicine ball, which is a volleyball the size of a volleyball but heavy. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, use both hands to shake the ball over your head and toss it to the ground.
Part 3 of 3: Taking a good cut
Step 1. Work at the angle
The slash is most powerful and effective when the ball is hit at an acute downward angle. You must make the blow hit the ball as quickly as possible so that your opponent doesn't have time to return it. Once you've mastered the correct shape, practice cutting at a sharp angle.
- Look for spaces on the court that will be difficult for your opponents to reach and aim for those spots, rather than directly at opponents.
- By slicing from different locations along the network, you can take advantage of your opponents' weaknesses.
- Practice your aim from the top of a box. Stand on a tall, sturdy box in the position you would be at the top of your jump during a cut. Have someone lift the ball for you and practice cutting it off the top of the box to hit targets on the other side of the net.
Step 2. Learn to see the lock
This is a group of players on the opposing team whose job it is to block your attack so it doesn't go over the net. No matter what force you use to hit the ball, if you throw it straight over the block, you probably won't earn any points for your team. It's important to keep an eye on the ball, but also learn to see blocks out of the corners of your eyes so you can avoid them in the net.
- The best way to practice seeing blocks is to train with opponents. During slash practice, ask your teammates to try to block your attacks.
- You can avoid the blocks by aiming the slashes out of their range.
- Remember to snap your fist during the movement so that the ball rolls forward, making it more difficult to successfully block it.
Step 3. Confuse your opponents by moving explosively
A slow, graceful dance towards the ball will give your opponents enough time to position themselves and block your attack. Moving quickly and explosively will take them by surprise and give them a better chance of making the point.
- If you're not very agile with your feet, explosive running can increase your speed.
- It's important not to start your approach until the ball is raised; otherwise, you will surrender before you have a chance to attack.
Step 4. Build a strategy with your team
Many volleyball teams use codes, special placements and other strategies to outwit opponents. Making an effort to distract or confuse your opponents before attacking is a great way to free up space on the other side so you can score a point. Read How to Play Volleyball to learn more about the sport's strategy and what it takes to beat a good opposing team.
- In order for the ball to go down, you need to make it spin forward, and for that you have to snap your wrist when you hit it. Practice hitting the ball against a wall and swinging your wrist forward.
- Yell "It's mine" before hitting the ball to let your teammates know you're going to hit it and help prevent collisions.
- The most used approach is: left, right, left, jump, cut! Remember to think of a rhythm for your steps as this will help you become familiar with the approach.
- If you are having trouble hitting the ball, do exercises to increase your vertical jump so that you can jump high enough to "climb above" it.
- There are many different types of approaches, and the one taught by your trainer may differ from the one explained above.
- When jumping to make the cut, jump towards the net, not up. Thus, you will greatly increase the strength of your attack, as long as you can get the timing right.
- You don't always need to cut the ball to attack. A well-placed start (a soft hit to an open part of the court) or exploring the block can take your opponents by surprise and secure a point.
- If you are a middle player and are in a position close to the net (called "B" or "2" by some teams), you will need to start the approach before the ball is raised.
- Remember, in organized competitive volleyball, there are many rules that determine who can cut the ball and how. Check your organization's rules and see if you understand them.
- Do not let your hand or arm go through the net during a cut, or you will commit a foul.
- Always stretch before doing any strenuous exercise to avoid serious injury.
- Don't let your feet land past the net line, or you will commit a foul and give your opponent a point.