How To Improve Your Passing and Digging: “Get Low”

As a volleyball player, you have definitely been yelled at by your coach to “Get lower!” or, “If you were lower, you would have gotten that dig!”. You’ve experienced the benefits of how getting lower gives you extra time, even if it’s just milliseconds, to make a play.

Today we’re going to break down the mobility requirements you need to get yourself in the best position to make a dig and how to look like the athlete in the picture above. No guarantees reading this article will mean you’ll start passing perfect 3’s, but reading and understanding this will hopefully put you in a position to improve.

1) Thoracic (Mid-Back) Mobility

Having good thoracic mobility (extension and rotation) is crucial to placing yourself in a good position to pass and dig. If you look at the picture above, she is able to maintain an upright posture, while in this low lunge. Her chest is up and head is high, so she can track and follow the ball.

Having good position of the thoracic spine is also correlated with her ability to maintain a good platform. We all know how important that is!

How is her thoracic mobility related to her platform?

The shoulder joint, specifically the scapula or shoulder blade muscles sit on the ribs, which are connected directly to the thoracic vertebrae and spine. If your thoracic mobility and position isn’t good, it can have a cascading negative effect on your ribs, shoulder blades, shoulders, and arms.

2) Hip Mobility

Her hip mobility and ability to get into her hips is what’s allowing her to be so low in this side lunge. The more hip mobility you have, the lower you will be, and the better your ability to pass will be.

3) Ankle Mobility

Without ankle mobility everything up the chain will fall apart. Try doing a side lunge, like in the picture, or simply squatting without letting your knees come forward at (the same as closed chain dorsiflexion) Did you eventually fall backwards? You were probably able to go deeper and might of had the hip mobility too, but without ankle mobility it doesn’t matter.

Two final notes on mobility…

1) If you lack mobility, obviously the next step is addressing it. Before you start foam rolling, stretching, doing band mobilizations, using a lacrosse ball or whatever it may be, it is important to understand and appreciate the different types of mobility restrictions. Knowing them will best help you direct your interventions towards fixing your mobility.

Don’t waste time doing something you may not need or that may not truly being helping you improve your mobility!

Don’t Waste Your Time Doing The Wrong Mobility Work

2) Having mobility in these areas is not only important to help you get into a better position to make a pass or a dig, but also to help prevent injury and address pain you may be experiencing. While the pain may be in your neck, shoulder, low back, or knee the cause and culprit may actually be from one of the joints mentioned above.

Where You Hurt Is Not Why You Hurt