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Archive for Volleyball Games

Drill: 3 v 3 All-Touch Transition & Attack

Synopsis: This is a good game-play exercise that gets every player lots of touches and works especially on transition hitting.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for intermediate and higher levels.

Requirements: 6+ players, a ball, a net, extra antennae

Execution: Attach the spare antennae to the net to create a channel for attacking in Zones 2 and 4 (similar to what’s discussed here). Place three players to a side, with one at the next in Zone 2 (opponent’s Zone 4), one as the OH, and one as back court defender. One side starts the attack with a set to 4. The opposing player at the net blocks line, so the two others defend the angle. If the back court player digs the ball, the blocker sets the OH in Zone 4. If the OH digs the ball, the back court player sets the blocker in Zone 2, in which case the OH hitter on the other side blocks and the other two play defense. In this case the pattern is same in that if the front court player digs the ball, the back court defender sets the blocker, otherwise the blocker sets the OH. In other words, every player touches the ball each play. Continue until the ball goes dead, then the players rotate.

BertrandDrill

Variations:

  • This can be done cooperatively to encourage longer rallies.
  • The antennae can be adjusted to alter what the hitters have available to swing at around the block.

Additional Comments:

  • This drill is from England Junior National team coach Bertrand Olie and was posted as part of an interview with him on the Volleyball England website.
  • As a cooperative drill this could be used as a warm-up.

Opportunities in training on a lowered net

I mentioned before how you can use the game of Newcomb to work with inexperienced players. You can use it to teach court movement, positioning, and things like that in a volleyball-like, but slower speed situation. At the HP Coaches Clinic they did something similar, but for a more advanced purpose.

The coaches lowered the net down to just about head height for the average player. The demo athletes then played a co-operative 6 v 6 game with no jumping. The third contact was set over. Basically, it was all the movements you normally see in volleyball. The players just did not jump.

In this particular case the focus was blocker movement. The coaches watched the middle blockers for proper focus on their reads and their footwork. It was a way to give those middles lots of reps without burn out.

Thinking more broadly, this is an exercise that can serve a number of purposes. It could very easily be a warm-up. It includes lots of volleyball motion, just done at a lower intensity level. You can tick up the intensity if you make the 3rd contact be a down-ball.

Of course, you can also get rid of the cooperative aspect and make it a competitive game. That speeds things up, demands more movement, and introduces more problem-solving elements. It makes reading more game-like, and gives you increased opportunities to focus players on specific aspects of their play while still is a lower intensity situation.

Working on attacking the block in games and drills

During one of the on-court sessions at the HP Coaches Clinic, someone presented an idea about hitters attacking the block. They put an antenna on the net about a meter in from the left side pin. Basically, it defined the zone in which the OH normally attacks. The hitter then had to hit the ball between the antennae. That obviously makes it harder to hit around the block. This forced the hitter to work the edges of the block. Or they could attack seam, if that option was available. The blockers took line or cross to work on things more narrowly.

This sort of thing can be used in the Pin Hitter Challenge game they demonstrated at the clinic, if you have two sets of antennae. It also works in the Hitter Tourney drill, the Hitter vs. Hitter Challenge or High Ball to Receive games. Basically, use it in any game or drill with hitters against blockers with lots of sets to the attackers in focus.

Of course training the attackers in this fashion also benefits blockers as well. They can work on good hand position and angles to avoid hitters tooling them.

Game: Pin Hitter Challenge

Synopsis: This game pits the OH and OPP hitters against each other in a kill challenge to work on being able to score against full-team defense, but also allows for working on blocking and defense.

Age/Skill Level: This game is suitable for intermediate and advanced players.

Requirements: 2 teams, court, balls

Execution: Playing 6 v 6 in a single rotation, one side receives all serves. The setter is back row and alternates setting the OH and the OPP. If one of them scores and the other does not, that hitter earns a point. If neither scores or both score, then it is a wash. The defensive team plays the second ball over when they make digs to keep rallies going. Each new rally begins with a serve. Play to a certain number of points.

Variations:

  • You could designate only high ball attacks if that’s a specific area of focus you want.
  • Blockers can be given specific instructions as to what to take/give.
  • You can have your defense play something other than the usual one to act as an upcoming opponent or work on developing a new system.

Additional Comments:

  • I saw this demonstrated by the USA National Team coaching staff at the HP Coaches Clinic.
  • It’s not a bad idea to keep hitting stats while doing this game, to get the added information above and beyond who wins.
  • Having the defensive team play the second ball over keeps them engaged and allows for work on hitting in transition in a more controlled fashion than going off a 3rd touch contact.

Game: 2 vs. 2 with a Player Net

Synopsis: This variation on Winners is a small-sided game which can be used when you don’t have a net available, especially for younger and/or more developmental players. Also potentially useful in situations where you have lots of players, but little space.

Age/Skill Level: This game is suitable for all levels.

Requirements: 6 players, 1 balls.

Execution: Start with three teams of 2 players each. One of the team starts as the net. They stand in the middle. The other two teams play out a rally. The loser of the rally swaps places with the “net” team and serves the next point.

Variations:

  • The game could be played for time or until one team won a given number of points.
  • Depending on the amount of space available, you could configure the “court” to be short or narrow or whatever suits your purpose.
  • You could increase the team sizes to 3s, and maybe 4s.
  • Rather than switching on each rally, you could play mini games (say first to 3).

Additional Comments:

  • I saw this diagrammed on a table at breakfast by John Kessel.
  • If there is a rope or string or some other thing that could act as a net, the “net” team can hold that rather than having the rally played out over them.
  • This is something that potentially could be used in a pre-match warm-up when you only have one side of the court.

Game: Bonus Point Bingo

Synopsis: This is a game based on the bonus point idea, which means you can use it to encourage your team to concentrate on certain key areas of focus. It allows for a lot of flexibility and adaptability for varied levels of play and complexity.

Age/Skill Level: This game is suitable for all levels.

Requirements: Court, 2 teams, 1 ball.

Execution: Start with each team choosing some number of bonus point plays/tasks they must complete. For example, one team could select quick set kill, getting a single block for the OH, and getting a soft or stuff block while the other picks forcing a non-setter to take the second ball in serve receive, getting a tip kill, and getting a high ball kill. The team that is able to do all their bonus plays first wins.

Variations:

  • You can do this in a small-sided game fashion.
  • The required bonuses could be randomly chosen, assigned by the coach, or picked by the team.
  • Multiple executions of a single play can be included, such as getting 5 good passes.

Additional Comments:

  • This game was described by US Women’s National Team coach Karch Kiraly at the 2015 HP Coaches Clinic.
  • If you don’t allow teams to know the bonus plays for each other you add the dimension of forcing them to try to figure it out to prevent the other team from “scoring”.

Game: Speedball Winners

Synopsis: This variation on Winners looks to maximize contacts but cutting down transition time.

Age/Skill Level: This game is suitable for all levels.

Requirements: Court, 8 players, 3 balls.

Execution: Divide the players into 4 teams of two, with two teams on each side of the net – one on the court, one behind the end line. The two “off” teams each have a ball, as does one of the “on” teams. The on team with the play starts play with a serve and the teams rally normally from there. The team that loses the rally immediately vacates the court and the off team on that side serves and enters the court to begin a new rally. The winner of each rally scores a point, with the game played to some predetermined point total.

Variations:

  • Teams of 3 or more can be used.
  • More than 4 teams can play if necessary.
  • You can use a full or reduced sized court.
  • For lower level teams where serving is inconsistent, the coach can initiate the ball to start each rally.
  • Attacking can be limited to certain types, such as back row only.

You can see a 4-player team version of speedball in the USA Volleyball video below.


Additional Comments:

  • By incorporating requirements into the play – must have 3 contact, all players much touch the ball, bonus points for quick set kills, etc. – you can adapt the game to work toward the training objectives you have for the session.
  • You can see a Newcomb style version of speedball used as a warm-up game in this video.
  • If you are playing 2s or 3s on a full court you likely want to use beach rules in terms not allowing open-hand tipping and requiring sets to be straight forward or back (no sideways dumps over the net). Alternatively, you could just not allow such attacks in front of the 3 meter line.

Game: Player Winners

Synopsis: This variation on Winners is a small-sided rotational game which can be a good playing warm-up and/or a way to get a large number of players playing for assessment and other purposes.

Age/Skill Level: This game is suitable for all levels.

Requirements: Full court, 6+ players, 2 balls.

Execution: Designate a “winners” side of the court and have two players begin there. One player starts in the court on the other side, with a second player in service position. The remaining players are off the court waiting. The ball is served and a rally played out. The player whose error ends the rally goes out. If the player is on the winners side, the non-server from the non-winners side moves over to take their place and the server steps in with a new server stepping up. If the error-maker is the non-serving player on the non-winners side, they go out and the server moves up with a new server coming in. If the server is the one to make the error, a new server takes their place any everyone else stays where they are.

Variations:

  • Depending on the level, you could cut the playing area down, such as using a badminton court or half a standard volleyball court.
  • Players can accumulate points on an individual basis for rallies won (or only rallies won while on the winners side).
  • Constraints can be placed on types of attacks – such as backrow only, no tips, only roll shots, etc. depending on what you might want as a specific focus.
  • A lower levels, a coach could start the rally with a free ball rather than having players serve.

Additional Comments:

  • At lower levels the vast majority of rallies end as the result of errors, but at higher levels things like kills become a feature, making it less obvious who should go off at the end of the rally. As such, you may have to either have a bit of coach intervention or to establish clear rules.
  • If you have several courts of this game going, you can have players move up or down based on who scored the most or fewest points. For example, the three players with the most points move up a court, the three with the least move down.
  • While you certainly could run this game with a larger number of players than 6, going too much beyond that would likely prove counterproductive as players will be out for lengthy periods. In that case, it would probably be best to try to find ways to split the group up – perhaps to play on smaller courts.
  • While it’s certainly possible to play a 3s version of this game, keep in mind that adding players lowers touches per player and potentially increases the complexity of managing player movement through the game.
  • I saw this run at England Cadet/Junior National Team trials.

Volleyball Camp Drills and Games

Summer is, of course, prime season for volleyball camps. As anyone who has ever run one knows, camps present their own set of challenges for drill and game selection. When you’re designing a plan for a practice session you at least know the level of the players, the distribution of players in the various positions, and things like that. Camps are more akin to try-outs. You’re trying to employ activities which can accommodate for a number of variables.

Actually, in many camps there is a sort of try-out process at the beginning. That’s to assign players to courts or teams for the remainder of camp based on position, skill level, etc. It requires drills which can be used to handle large numbers of players efficiently. If you’re in a position like this, have a look at the Volleyball Try-Out Drill Ideas post.

Warm-ups

It is very easy in a camp situation where you’re dealing with potentially a lot of players to get lazy and do something like jog & stretch. Please don’t do that! You can see my thoughts on warm-ups in general in the post Are your warm-ups wasting valuable time? Suffice it to say, I think you can do better, even if it’s just adopting some kind of dynamic warm-up. Depending on the age and skill level of the group, consider a ball-handling and/or footwork oriented warm-up.

Lots and lots of touches!

Part of running a camp is making sure the campers are happy and feel they got something out of it. Standing around for long periods doing nothing doesn’t help with that. You want to keep them active as much as possible. The more ball contacts you can get them the better. The best way to do this is to put them in small groups. That allows you to run ball-handing shuttles (like 21) and/or pepper variations such as 3/4-person in-line or over-the-net. You can also play small-sided games. Maybe do it in a tournament format to add a competitive element.

Inclusive rather than exclusive

Be careful about drills or games where players who make a mistake are bumped out for long periods of time. An example of this is the common serving drill where you have players on both sides serving back and forth and missed serves cause players to have to go sit on the other side until a teammate hits them with a serve. That sort tends to see the weaker players spend the most time sitting on the floor. A better option would be the Amoeba Drill, which flips that around (always a popular one, by the way).

Emphasize connecting with new people

Unless you’re running a team camp, you’re going to have a bunch of players who don’t know each other. That means as you design activities for the campers you need to incorporate a “getting to know your fellow campers” element. There are loads of different icebreaker exercises out there that can help. Many can be incorporated into volleyball work.

Talk as little as possible

The campers are there to work on their skills and play games – and be social. They are not there to attend a series of lectures. Spend as little time as you can get away with having them listen to coaches talk and as much time as possible on the court.

Be creative and make it fun!

Creativity can go a long way toward making for a positive camper experience. As much as we coaches might want to spend loads of time on fundamentals, the kids can only tolerate a limited amount of ball-handling work before they start to lose focus. By all means, do lots of fundamental work in your camp, but think about ways you can do it without the kids realizing you’re doing so. Using different types of games can help that, especially since the kids will be eager to play anyway.

Whether you are running a camp or just part of the coaching staff, keep in mind that as much as we might like it to be otherwise, camps are at least as much about entertainment as making players better. If you want players to come back again and/or tell their friends about it, they have to have a positive experience. This is something different than coaching a team or a training session where the focus tends to be more on challenging the players. Keep the fun element in mind and you’ll tend to end up with more satisfied campers.