So shortly after working as an animator, I quickly realised sport is actually a gold mine for general animation reference. While that sounds obvious because players are always moving, I’m referring to more of the motion and intention behind every action that would be better understood after actually picking up the sport itself. The kind that pushes the body to it’s limits. The movements that are honed over many years to create what we would call “technique”.
That would be tiring for an animator though, to pick up every sport they plan on animating. However, anime actually does an amazing job explaining sports. Not just with dialogue of characters but also in the visual impact it provides. This combined with having a trained eye for motion really made me appreciate sports in general to a new level. Whether it be the torso twists of baseball, the footwork of tennis, or the coordination of basketball, as someone who had almost zero interest in sports, the last few years has been an eye opener.
A couple of years ago I got into an anime called Haikyuu!! which has good storytelling and whatnot but more importantly, it showed me how underrated a sport like volleyball is and there’s actually so many things happening. What really got to me though is how pose-heavy this sport is, whether it’s receives, diving receives, blocked ball retrievals, blocking posture, jump serves or spiking posture. While other sports have their own things to master, there aren’t many sports that require a certain form to be held in a multitude of techniques.
After watching some match highlights online I felt compelled to make something. Just to note though, my main source of reference was watching videos of real people serve in matches then I layered a little anime inspiration on top.
Rig is from Body Mechanics Rigs