Anticipation is a skill that really
separates the best players from everybody else. To be good at
anticipating you really have to be paying attention to what’s happening. For
example, you need to pay attention to how your opponent is moving to the ball and
think about what their intentions are. For example, are they trying to pass it
to their partner or are they trying to send over the net? Here’s the sequence
that should be going through your mind as your opponent is playing the ball. So
after you serve the ball, this is what you should be thinking about. You serve
the ball and you watch your opponent and they’re either gonna pass it to their
partner or they’re gonna send it back over the net. So if they send the ball
back over the net and you’re anticipating that they’re gonna send it
over the net, then you can easily make the play. However, if they pass it to
their partner, you should be thinking are they gonna set their partner or are they
gonna send it over. If they send the ball over the net and you’re really paying
attention, you’ll be ready to play it, But if they set their partner you should be
thinking, did they set the ball tight? Did they set the ball off the net? If the set
goes tight to the net, did your partner stay up at the net and block? Or if the set went off
the net. did your partner drop back and play defense? The game is happening
really fast and there’s a lot going on and you need to pay attention to all
this. How well you anticipate really depends on how well you can process all
this information. You take all this information really quickly and you’ve
come to a good decision. So if you’re not paying attention then you really don’t
have any information and you’re not gonna make good decisions. Anticipation isn’t guessing. Guessing is a lot different. Guessing is what you do
when you don’t have any information. You don’t know what to do so you just guess
and you hope you made the right decision. There’s basically two different parts to
being good at anticipating. First, there’s the anticipation that you do before the ball
is put in play. This is basically coming up with a plan. You’re
thinking about your opponent and coming up with a strategy. The thing is most
players are consistent when they play. For example, you might play against
somebody that never hits the ball hard and they’re always hitting shots. If
they always hit a shot, they probably have a couple favorite shots they like to hit
all the time. They probably have a shot they like to hit because it works all
the time and so they’re going to do it most of the time. So the point is if you
know what they’re gonna do or what they tend to do then you know what they’re
likely to do so you can really prepare for those. So it’s important to know the tendencies of your opponent so you can prepare for
them. Being good at anticipating is really all about having a lot of
information then making good decisions based on what you know and what you
expect is going to happen. So here’s a sequence that you should be
thinking about when you are playing. So let’s say you’re serving on this side
okay and they’re here in serve receive. So when you serve the ball and let’s say
this players about to pass it you should be thinking are they gonna pass it to
their partner or are they gonna send the ball back over the net. So
if you’re thinking about what they’re gonna do
then you’ll be ready for when it happens. So if they send it back over, you
won’t get caught not knowing and so you’ll be able to make the play. So let’s
say they don’t send it back over and they pass to their partner.
Now this player comes up and they’re gonna either set their partner or gonna
send it over. So if you’re constantly thinking, are they gonna send it over or
they going to set their partner. If you’re really paying attention
and watching for them to send it over, you’re gonna be ready to play it. So
there’s only two things that could happen. Right? You serve the ball, they’re gonna pass it to their partner or they’re gonna send it over.
You only have two things to watch for. Right? After they pass it to the
partner, this player is either going to send it over the net or they’re going to
set their partner. There’s just two things to think about. So then let’s say
they set their partner. When this player is hitting, is the set close to the net, is
it off the net? or is this player a big hitter? Can they jump up high
and hit the ball down into court or do they like to hit shots? These are all the things that you should be thinking about to make better decisions
for anticipating. When we have a play at the net, the
setter is setting a hitter, the blocker and defender…. there’s a lot of
things going on. So it could be tight to the net so the blocker needs to be up
there it was tight. If the sets off the net, they might
decide to drop back and play defense. Blocker could be blocking angle then the
defensive player needs a dig line. Blocker could be blocking down line,
defensive player digs angle. You also have to think about what your opponent
is doing so you got to think about what your team is doing what your opponent is
doing and then you got to read the situation and make good decisions. If you want to make anticipation easier, what you do is you can serve
tougher. For example, if you serve tough and let’s say this player passes
the ball this far off the net. This player sets them off the net. Now
they’re off the net so there’s a lot fewer things that could happen, right?
They’re not at the net, so they can’t hit the ball down, right? So the ball is
gonna have to go up over the net. So this player could drop back and play
defense and so it’s a lot easier to come to the court but if the play is at the net
then there’s a whole lot more things that could happen. So there’s a lot more
things to prepare for. This is why serving is so important. Now if you’d
like more tips on playing defense, be sure to watch my video on how to play
defense behind a block. The link to watch it is in the description below and also
in the cards in this video. If you’ve been struggling to anticipate and have
questions related to anticipation, please comment below with a follow up question. If you
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