Archive for Volleyball Drills

Drill: Rotating Cooperative Cross-Court Hitting

Synopsis: As with the non-rotating variation, this can be viewed as a kind of team pepper drill with lots of focus on ball-control and the additional element of encouraging keeping the ball in play and overcoming frustrating situations.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for intermediate to advanced players

Requirements: 8 players, full court

Execution: This drills starts and is executed the same was as the Continuous Cross-Court Hitting drill. The difference is that the players don’t just do it as alternating attacks through area 4. They start there, but when then complete the required number of reps one team shifts so it becomes one side attacking through 4 and the other through 2 (so OH vs RS). The team which did not move the first time then shifts to area 2, making it a cross-court execution again (RS vs RS). They then finish with the side attack that originally moved from area 4 to area 2 returning back to area 4.

Variations:

  • You may require the reps to be completed continuously (ball cannot drop or count goes back to 0) or not, depending on how fast or slow you want to go.
  • You can have players in their actual positions, or rotating around through the positions each time they send the ball over the net.
  • If there are extra players they could be subbed in on rotation.

Additional Comments:

  • This could be a good drill to do in a stations situation where you have multiple courts available and want to break a smaller group out to work on something specific.
  • I saw USC run this variation.

Drill: Cooperative Cross-Court Hitting

Synopsis: This drill could be viewed as a team pepper type of exercise in that it focuses on keeping the ball in play rather than go for the point. In doing so, it focuses on several facets of ball control, with an element of problem-solving and potentially a strong dose of mental toughness work mixed in.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for intermediate to advanced players

Requirements: 8 players, full court

Execution: Put one player each in positions 4, 5, and 6 with a setter at the net on both sides. The drills runs similarly to the Hard Drill in that the players have to keep the ball in play. In this case, however, all sets go to the OH in position 4. They must attack the ball cross-court so their teammates on the other side of the net can dig and attack in return. The objective is to get 10 good dig-set-hit sequences without the ball hitting the floor. If it does, the counter resets to 0.

Variations:

  • Players can be required to rotate positions each time they send the ball across the net, or leave a setter in place and have everyone else rotate around them.
  • If there are extra players, they can be subbed in in either a rotational or contact fashion (e.g. sub goes in for the hitter)
  • You can vary the number of successful reps required based on the level of the skill of your team.
  • With advanced teams you can require that the 10 reps be completed consecutively, meaning the ball only crosses the net 10 times. With less advanced teams you can allow for faulty sequences where a team cannot execute a proper dig-set-hit, but keeps the rally going. In that case, you count the good sequences and don’t go back to zero unless the ball hits the floor.
  • The setter could be required to penetrate from back row if you are using just your actual setter(s).
  • The setter can be required to block (if not penetrating as above).

Additional Comments:

  • Make sure to enforce that successful reps only count if there’s a dig, a clean set with hands, and a legitimately attacked ball (no soft swings).
  • Allowing a team to not have to get all 10 reps in a row will result in faster completion of the drill if time is a concern. It will also let you get the players to focus on keeping the ball in play when they are in scramble mode.
  • Because there can be considerable frustration with having to restart on errors (or discontinuities), mental toughness can be a developmental aspect to this drill.
  • You may have to put a time limit on the drill to keep to your practice plan.
  • There is a problem solving element to this drill in that it behooves the players to make sure the best defenders are the ones receiving most of the hits to keep the play going. This thinking is something you may have to hint at if they aren’t getting it.

Drill: Get-2 Serve & Pass

Synopsis: This serving and passing drill can be quite useful for working with larger numbers of players to keep them moving while also getting the developmental focus on those who need it most.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for intermediate to advanced players

Requirements: 12 players, several balls, full court

Execution: Set up three passers on each side of the court, with a target at the net and servers on both ends (like 2-sided Serve & Pass drill). Rather than staying for a certain number of good passes or time or rotating on each repetition, though, passers stay in place until they get two good passes. At that point they move to target, target goes to serve, and a server moves into the passing group (if multiple servers, have the one who’s been there longest go to pass).

Variations:

  • You can use more or fewer passers than 3 as your system of play dictates.
  • You can increase the number of passes required to get out of passing.
  • If your passers are erratic, you can have two targets rather than one to allow for ball chasing to keep the drill moving more fluidly.
  • You can run this drill for time, for some total number of good passes, or for a certain number of good passes by some subset of players.

Additional Comments:

  • This drill has the advantage of keeping weaker passers in the passing rotation longer, giving them more reps.
  • The higher the number of good passes you require passers to get, the less frequent will be player rotation through the drill, and vice versa.
  • If the targets efficiently get the ball back to the servers on their side, the number of balls required to run the drill is only equal to the number of servers being used.
  • If you have several servers you can have multiple targets to allow for rapid-fire serving to keep things moving very quickly

Drill: 1-way Pepper

Synopsis: This pepper variation allows for consecutive execution of skills rather than a constant switching around through pass, set, and hit (saw this one run by USC)

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for intermediate to advanced players

Requirements: Two players, one ball

Execution: This is a variation on basic pass-set-hit pepper. Rather than one player hitting, the other digging, and the hitter then setting to restart the sequence, in this version the digger plays the ball up to themselves and then sets their partner to hit again.

Variations:

  • This should be done for some number of successful reps before the partners switch roles.
  • For more advanced players the requirement could be that the reps be consecutive, perhaps allowing for some scrambling so long as the ball doesn’t hit the floor.
  • Advanced players can be required to jump set and/or jump hit.

Additional Comments:

  • As with all pepper drills, this could be useful in warm-ups.
  • It is worth thinking about mixing up pepper variations to keep things fresh and/or to create more focus on certain skills.

Drill: 2-sided Serve & Pass

Synopsis: This is a good drill to get a lot of people involved in serving and passing on one court. Excellent for larger squads and/or try-out situations.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for intermediate to advanced players

Requirements: 12+ players, a handful of balls, a full court

Execution: This is an extension of a simple servers and passers drills where three passes and a target are on one side (perhaps with some players waiting to come on) and servers are on the other side. In this case, set up three passers and a target on each side and have servers and waiting passers on both ends. You can go for time or some target number of passes.

Variations:

  • This drill can be static with servers and passers staying, or you can create a butterfly type of system where the servers become passers, passers move to target, and the target takes the ball to become a passer.
  • If you want to work your setter(s) you could create a setting target in either the OH or RS position who rotates on each ball with the setter staying in place.
  • If you use a passing system with more or fewer than 3 passers, you can use that number in the drill to give the passers practice working in that system.

Additional Comments:

  • Consecutive missed serves can really slow this drill down so it is worth considering a punishment for serves missed in a row.
  • Servers who miss should be required to go get their ball and return to the serving line.
  • To move the drill along as quickly as possible, have the servers go as soon as the new passer is in on the other side rather than waiting to alternate with the servers on the other side.

Drill: 2-Player Set & Touch

Synopsis: You can use this drill to do both ball-handling and volleyball movement work, and it’s also very suitable for warm-ups.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for intermediate to advanced players

Requirements: Two players, one ball

Execution: As the video below shows (may take time to load), this is a setting based drill. Two players begin about 2 meters apart. The first partner sets the ball to the other player, runs up and touches them, then retreats back to their position. The second partner first sets the ball up to themselves to give their partner time to do the movement, then sets the ball back to them and runs up for the touch themselves. Run for a set number of reps.

Variations:

  • You may be able to run this using forearm passes rather than sets, but it would be more challenging.
  • If you want more movement training or to incorporate this drill into a conditioning routine you can run it for a set amount of time rather than just repetitions.

Additional Comments:

  • This drill is part of the Long Beach State warm-up routine.
  • Make particular note of the footwork involved. It is two running steps forward followed by a turn, cross-over retreat. No backpedaling.

Drill: 8-Person Serve & Pass

Synopsis: If you have a large group of players, this drill can have all of them involved for work on serving and ball control skills. It has much in common with the Serving-Passing-Setting Quads drill.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for all levels.

Requirements: 8-12, players, a court, 4 ball carts, lots of balls

Execution: Put two passers and two servers on both sides of the net, along with a setter and a target for the setter. In the initial phase the server serves to the passer across from them. The pass goes to the setter, who then sets to the target (in either the OH or RS position). This means all four servers are going at the same time. After a given number of serves the server switches with the passer in front of them on their own side and the drill continues. After that, the servers switch to serving to the passer diagonally across from them.

8-player-serve-pass

Variations:

  • Depending on the number of players you have and whether you want your setters passing, you could just have targets with ball carts in the Setting position (coaches, for example).
  • If you have 12 players the rotation could be from Server to Passer to Setter/Target to Server.
  • Rather than going for a set number of serves, you could go for a collective number of 3-passes or cumulative passing score.

Additional Comments:

  • This drill is run frequently by Long Beach State.
  • With a smaller group you can run this only in a half fashion (2 servers, 2 passers, etc.).
  • This drill really requires lots of balls and several ball carts to be run smoothly, so it isn’t suitable for teams with smaller equipment levels. This unless you can find an efficient ball rotation system which keeps the drill moving.

Drill: Serving-Passing-Setting Quads

Synopsis: This is a good drill to work on all skills short of attacking and can be used either to work on ball-handling or as a warm-up.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for all levels.

Requirements: Four players, two balls, a net.

Execution: Begin with a passer, a setter, and target on one side of the net and a server on the other side. The server and the target each start off with a ball. The server sends the ball over to the passer, who passes to the setter, who in turns sets the ball to the target. As soon as the first ball comes over the target tosses their ball to the server so they are ready to do the next repetition quickly. Continue until the passer reaches some defined number of good passes.

Variations:

  • For lower skill levels or to give shoulders a break, players can toss the ball over rather than serve.
  • In order to work different angles, the drill can be run on a diagonal rather than in a linear fashion. For example, instead of the server being in zone 1 and the passer in zone 5, the passer could be in zone 1..

Additional Comments:

  • If the initiation is done by an underhand toss with the ball allowed to roll off the fingers (USC called this bowling) it will imitate a topspin ball. If it comes from a 2-hand overhead toss it can be made to be like a hard, flat float serve. A simple underhand toss or underhand serve could imitate a freeball.
  • If the server serves from mid-court it can be a good way to warm up the shoulder while working on mechanics without having to also worry about power.
  • Having the two balls going is meant to keep the drill moving quickly as the idea is to maximize reps in minimal time, so make sure the players keep the tempo high.
  • Having the ball come over the net in a variety of ways (you could have the players go through several rotations varying up the initiation) helps the players learn to recognize and adapt to different types of balls, especially with the ball coming from over the net.

Drill: Second Ball Setting

Synopsis: This drill is largely focused on working on the libero taking the second ball rather than the setter, but also generally works on out-of-system setting. It can be a good volleyball warm-up drill as well.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for all levels.

Requirements: Two players, 1-2 coaches, a few balls, half a court

Execution: The drill sets up with one player in left back and one in right back. Position a coach at the net in the left front and right front positions. One coach starts the drill by hitting a ball to one of the defenders. The other defender steps in to take the second ball and sets in diagonally to the coach across from them (right back sets to left front, left back sets to right front). Continue for a set time or number of good reps.

Variations:

  • Use players rather than coaches as the hitters.
  • Use just one coach/hitter rather than two and change sides at some point.
  • Hitter(s) can attack from boxes over the net.
  • Rather than just working 2 players, rotate players on a dig/set sequence.
  • To work on your players setting either the OH or the RS attacker, you can change up the requirement that they only set diagonally the way they are coming into the ball and have them instead set the same side they are from (i.e. left back sets left front).

Additional Comments:

  • This is a drill I saw Wisconsin use during its pre-match warmup. I think I also saw it, or a variation, at either Long Beach State or UCLA training when I was there (perhaps both).
  • The main focus of this drill is to work on out-of-system sets by back row players, so it makes sense for the players in the drill to be operating from their primary defensive positions.
  • Note also that this drill is used a lot to work on the libero coming in to set the second ball if the setter has to play the first one. It assumes, however, that the libero is playing in left back (position 5). If that is not the case in your team (perhaps she’s playing middle back in 6), you can shift the drill such that it’s a middle back and right back variation.