Expertise: How to be an expert volleyball player

Every volleyball player that is aiming at being an elite player is aiming to become an expert. Motor learning gurus have studied all aspects of expertise, from how to obtain it to what separates experts from the rest of us. 

Regardless of the skill being performed, whether it’s a sport specific skill, a dancing move or playing an instrument, there are certain characteristics that experts have in common.


There is no secret to it, to become an expert at a skill you need to practice. The rough figures in Motor Control circles are a minimum of 10 years of intense deliberate practice, or 10,000 hours. But that doesn’t mean you automatically become an expert after 10 years of practice. Deliberate practice is referring to intense work like practice, with good feedback and instruction.


Experts know more about their skill than non experts. Experts generally use their knowledge of their skill to make decision rules. This means that expert setters will have a thorough knowledge, and knowledge structure, to decide which setting option to choose in a specific situation.


When comparing experts with non experts, experts are quicker at searching their environment, can give more conscious attention to the search, and extract more meaningful information. From a volleyball perspective an expert defender can pick up more information about an opposition attacker in less time than a non expert, allowing them to read the play. Experts achieve this skill through years of experience performing a skill, rather than having better eyesight than non experts.

What does it mean?

It means that if you want to be the very best at a particular skill, you had better keep doing it for a long time. Experts train for years, giving them a better decision making capacity, and an increased ability to read the play and pick up on cues in the playing environment.

Perhaps this is why older experienced teams are so successful? Check out some of the stats from last years world cup The Older…The Better??. A lot of the teams that had success are fairly old. Although older players may not be at their physical peak, volleyball has a high skill demand, which takes many years to develop, meaning maybe old players are quite valuable??

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

6 Replies to “Expertise: How to be an expert volleyball player”

  1. Hey Jase,
    Link should be working now, sorry the tables in “the older the better” aren’t coming up. I’m working on it,

  2. Hi Dave,

    Would it be posible for you to promote our camps witha link on your site. I’ll be hapy to add yours to ours. Please let me know.
    All the best in SA,

  3. Hi Dave

    My name is Roy and am a volleyball player/coach in my community and i sometimes feel am a bit too old for the sport but now since i have just read your saying ‘The older….The better , I will never think of quitting anymore and i promise tush even harder.

  4. Good Stuff Roy. Volleyball is a very technical game and takes a long time to master the skills. If you can stay in decent shape- often the older, more experienced players will get the job done.

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