Archive for Volleyball Drills

Drill: Twenty One

Synopsis: This a good drill to work on all kinds of ball-handling skills and to encourage communication and teamwork. There’s also an element of mental toughness involved because it can be very frustrating.

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

Requirements: 3 players, one ball, a net

Execution: This is a multi-player follow-the-ball type of drill much like a passing shuttle. The drill starts with the players doing a forearm pass-and-follow where when a player passes the ball over the net they follow under the net and get in line behind the player there. The three players pass 21 consecutive balls. They then switch to setting/over-head passing, following the same sequence of 21 balls. When that is complete they switch to pass-set-tip, again going for 21 straight executions. If at any point along the way the group makes an error, they must start all the way back at the beginning with passing.

Variations:

  • The last part can be dropped for beginner groups
  • The last part could be switched to pass-set-down ball as a step down from pass-set-tip to make it a bit easier for more advanced beginner groups.
  • Roll shots could replace tips in the pass-set-tip
  • For advanced teams the pass-set-tip could be changed to pass-set-hit (essentially over the net pepper).
  • Lesser skilled players can be allowed to finish each section of the drill individually. In this case an error would just require them to go back to the beginning of that section rather than all the way back to the start.
  • Intermediate and advanced players should be required to make all the transitions continuous such that pass #21 is directly followed by set #1 and set #21 goes right into pass-set-tip #1.
  • In the pass-set-tip section you can either have the player who has just tipped the ball go under the net to set, or you can have one player stay setter (switching back-and-forth) for 7 balls, then having the tipper for that 7th ball go under the net and set for #8.
  • This drill can be done with 4 players, in which case the last part should either be a tip-then-set as described above, or the players just stay on their side. In the latter case, the tipper becomes the next setter and the setter backs off to become the next passer/tipper.

Additional Comments:

  • The requirements of the drill is that all the first 21 balls be forearm passes, all the second 21 be sets, and all the last 21 be proper forearm pass, set, tip. You must make that clear to the players and monitor to ensure that they abide by it.
  • Require the players count the reps out-loud so you can hear it and be able to monitor things.
  • Really encourage communication throughout the drill.
  • You may need to put a time limit on the drill to ensure it doesn’t take up more time than you want for all groups to finish.
  • Make sure those who finish support those still trying to do so.

Drill: Run Serve Receive

Synopsis: This drill forces players to pass under pressure and when fatigued. It has a conditioning element and is good for working on mental toughness.

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

Requirements: A court, half a dozen balls, 6+ players.

Execution: Three players start in passing zones on the court, with three players at the net as their targets. A coach standing at about mid-court on the other side of the net serves to the first player, who passes the ball, then sprints to the end line, and back into position to receive another serve. Meanwhile, the coach serves the ball to the 2nd, then 3rd players, who do the same thing. Then it’s back to the first player once more. Each player must make 10 good passes to their designated target, that player keeping count. When a player finishes the drill they go out and their target enters, with another player taking over as target. Go through until all players have completed the drill.

run-serve-receive

Variations:

  • For beginning players the coach can do an underhand free ball as the serve.
  • If there are sufficient numbers, players can be used as servers rather than a coach.
  • The more advanced or athletic the group, the further back you can make them run after their pass, if space permits.
  • The number of successful passes can be adjusted for the skill level of the players.
  • You can use a single target rather than three for the sake of location consistency and ball circulation, but you would likely still want one player assigned to each passer for the sake of keeping count.

Additional Comments:

  • Make sure the pace of the drill is such that players don’t have to stand around in the court waiting to pass a ball for very long after they’ve done their run. Good ball circulation and feeding of the coach is part of that. So too is serving on rhythm rather than waiting for each player to get reset. This will force them to hustle back.
  • You will want to make sure players are sprinting and not just jogging, which make require introducing some kind of penalty, such as deducting from their tally or making them go back to zero.
  • There is no excuse in this drill for letting balls drop.

Volleyball Coaching Concept: Wash Drill

Basically, a wash drill in volleyball is one which forces a team to do things in a row. Sometimes it is doing things in bunches. If the team does so it earns a big point. The objective is to accumulate some number of total points or to beat another team. If the team fails to reach the objective it is a wash. They don’t earn the point, or alternatively, the opposing team gets the point.

There are a few primary variations you’ll find in wash drills. They include the following.

X before Y
One team has to get X number of points before the other team gets Y points.

X out of Y
A team must get X number of points within Y number of attempts (or could be done on time).

X in a row
The team must score X number of “little points” in a row to get a big point.

There is also the variation of wash drills where achieving some objective doesn’t immediately give a team a point. It instead gives them an opportunity to earn a point. The bingo-bango-bongo game is a variation of this. It uses an “X in a row” core approach. Once a team gets that, though, they must win a service rally to actually get the point.

Wash drills in volleyball are useful for any number of purposes. Here are some examples.

  • An “X before Y” variation can make for more competitive games between teams of unequal levels, such as starters vs. non-starters.
  • An “X out of Y” type of game can pit hitters against each other in an attack vs. defense drill or game.
  • A variation of “X in a row” could be used to focus on executing a skill or tactic, such as successfully running a quick attack.I

If there’s something you want to work on with your team, there’s probably a way you can do it with a wash drill. The advantage of this approach is that it gets players and teams focusing on not just singular executions. That is the case with many skill development drills (think serve receive or hitting line drills). Instead, the focus is on execution repetition. This, of course, is much more realistic in terms of game expectations.

Drill: 7-in-7 Hitting

Synopsis: This a good drill to get hitters focused on getting in good, consistent swings. It’s particularly useful to temper the aggression of some hitters (think male teams constantly hitting the top of the net rather than swinging high for deep shots), but also helps develop a “get it in” swing for those times when a hitting error should be avoided.

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

Requirements: At least half a court and one ball per player

Execution: The primary framework is a standard outside hitting line. The objective of the hitters is to reach 7 minutes of time elapsed before 7 hitting errors occur. If they fail they have to start over.

Variations:

  • Balls hitting the top of the net can be counted as errors.
  • In case where a team is struggling to complete the drill, to avoid it going on forever you can put a fixed time limit (or number of attempts) and have punishment for failure to get done.
  • The hitting can be done from locations other than OH if you want to work on different types of attacks.
  • Rather than players tossing to the setter, balls can be initiated requiring them to pass or dig, then transition and attack. This will tend to slow things down, and lower the attack frequency, but will be more game-like and will force the players to deal with variability in the sets from a setter required to move around.
  • For advanced teams a target zone could be introduced.

Additional Comments:

  • Make sure the hitters are taking legitimate swings and not just hitting the equivalent of roll shots. The idea is to work on consistent swings, not giving away free balls.

Drill: Run & Serve

Synopsis: Run & Serve is a drill which works on serving after a rally, when tired, and under pressure – with a strong conditioning element.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill which can be used with all age groups and skill levels.

Requirements: A full court, two coaches/managers, and one ball per player

Execution: Have each player get a ball, then split up and position themselves half spread out across each end line. Each player should place their ball on the floor at the end line in front of them. On the coach’s signal (“Go!”, whistle, etc.) the player sprint all the way around the court and back to their ball. They then each serve their ball. The coaches (one on each side) will yell out whether a serve is good or not. If anyone misses their serve, reset the drill and go again. Repeat until all players get their serve in at the same time.

Variations:

  • Adapt to your team’s level of play or developmental goals by setting specific targets such as Zone 1, below the top of the antennae, into the last 2 meters of the court, etc.
  • If you don’t have room to run around the court you can do on-court sprints
  • Other exercises such as push-ups, crunches, block jumps, etc. can be used in lieu of running.
  • You can mix up running and other activities if the team is struggling to complete the drill.
  • If the team is REALLY struggling and/or you are running out of time you can allow one side to finish by getting all their serves in, leaving the other side to carry on until they can do so as well.

Additional Comments:

  • If running around the court, alternate the direction (clockwise, counter-clockwise) so as to balance out the strain on ankles, etc.
  • If doing sprints to the net – such as a sequence like to the net and back, to the 3 meter and back, have one side to the sequence in reverse so both side are not running at the net at the same time to avoid and potential for contact injuries (turned ankles, etc.).
  • Make sure players aren’t rushing their serves. Part of the focus here is to get them to settle, go through their preparation, and execute as they would in a match.
  • This can be a very variable length drill, so make sure you account for that when putting it into your training plan.

Drill: Continuous Cross-Court Digging

Synopsis: Continuous cross-court digging is a high-intensity drill which builds mental toughness while working on individual digging and fitness.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill which can be used with all age groups and skill levels.

Requirements: Three players in the drill, two coaches, 6 or more players to collect balls and feed, lots of balls

Execution: Begin with one player in defense for position 5, and two players queued up behind. A coach positioned on a box or chair in position 4 on the other side of the net hits a cross-court ball at the player which they have to dig to target. The player then sprints across the court to defensive position where they dig a ball from a coach on a box in position 2 on the other side of the net. At the same time, the second player in line in position 5 steps in and digs a ball from the coach in position 4. The players continue going from back and forth digging in positions 1 and 4 until they collectively reach a predetermined objective of X number of good digs.

Continuous Cross-Court Digging

Variations:

  • If there are no boxes, tables, chairs, etc. for the coaches to hit from, they could stand on the same side of the net as the players.
  • Depending on the skill level of your team you could only count digs to Target 1 (a 3-pass), or you can accept digs to Target 2 off the net near the 3 meter (a 2-pass).
  • To work on keeping digs on their side of the net, a -1 can be applied to the count if there’s an overpass (but don’t go negative).
  • To get players focused on digging with proper technique and being prepared, you can do a -1 for single-arm digs.
  • The temptation may be to go with more than 3 players in the drill, but that will likely prove challenging because of the players getting tangled up moving back and forth. Even with 3 players the players are often dodging each other on the cross-over.

Additional Comments:

  • Keeping the tempo high is a key to this drill, which means the players collecting and feeding balls must be highly efficient or you need to have sufficient balls to overcome this deficit.
  • Make sure players crossing the court do so away from the net rather than toward it. Otherwise they are at risk of taking a ball in the head.
  • Do not let the players give more than 100% effort. If a ball drops with no attempt to play it they go back to 0.
  • Don’t alter the rhythm of the hitting once you get going. That will force the players to continue moving rapidly and not slow their pace.
  • Make sure the players are going all the way to the sideline and not stopping well inside the court, especially as they get tired. You can do this by aiming your hits to land near the sideline, which will keep them honest.
  • Talk to the players throughout the drill. Remind them to get to the right spot, to move quickly, and to use good technique. Encourage them throughout, and make sure the rest of the team does so as well.
  • Encourage players of similar skill to go together so you can adapt the tempo and aggressiveness of your hits to be able to challenge all players at a level suitable to their development.

Drill: The Belly Drill

Synopsis: The Belly Drill is a game-play based volleyball drill which develops scrappy play and commitment to keeping the ball off the floor. It also challenges players to problem solve in the manner of “How can we get out of this drill?”

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill which can be used with all age groups and skill levels.

Requirements: A full court, enough players to be divided into 3 groups, and a supply of balls

Execution: Start by dividing your squad into teams of 3. Two teams start on the court, one on each side of the net, with the remainder waiting on the side. One of the teams starts the drill on their stomachs. Slap the ball, which is the signal for the team on the floor to get up. Then initiate the ball to that team and let the two teams play through a rally. Whichever team loses the rally goes to the floor while the winners are replaced by a waiting group.

Variations:

  • Use different ways of initiating the ball to adapt to the level of your team and what you want to work on. For example, you can initiate balls very quickly after the slap and/or use hard driven balls or tips and tosses to open court areas to challenge a more advanced group while you can go slower and use underhand lobbed balls for a less advanced or younger group.
  • The standard set-up is to use 3 players on a full court, but that can be adjusted. Additional players can be added for lower level groups. Working with a smaller court is also an option, either for lower level teams or to increase the length of rallies (and thereby touches).
  • You can set contact rules such as each player much touch the ball once to encourage communication and anticipation, or only allowing two contacts to work on scramble play.
  • You can run the drill for a fixed amount of time, until you think the players are too tired to carry on, or until some goal is reached (X number of kills, for example).

Additional Comments:

  • The question often comes up “Why not have the winners stay on rather than the losers?” The replay is generally quite obvious once someone has gone through the drill, especially when one team gets stuck on the court and has to fight hard to win a rally to get out.
  • If you have sweaty players, have them go into the down position of a push-up rather than all the way down on their stomachs to avoid leaving slippery patches on the floor.
  • The players not on the court should be alert to stray balls, making sure they stay clear of players on the court.