Archive for Volleyball Games

Game: Hard Drill Game

Synopsis: This is a game which offers the benefit of working on back court attacks and defense against them in game-like fashion with a cooperative element which focuses on control and a competitive aspect which brings in going for points.

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

Requirements: 6+ players, 1 ball, court

Execution: This game is based on The Hard Drill. Each play begins with a cooperative back court exchange which goes for 3 good pass-set-hit sequences. Once that number has been reached the rally becomes competitive with the teams now going for the kill. The winning team gets a point and a new play begins. Play a game to a number of points which fits the allocated time in your practice plan.

Variations:

  • For a wash scoring variation you could make the winner of the rally have to serve for point.
  • You can vary the number of good pass-set-hit sequences required base on the level of your team and/or if you want to play for a larger or smaller number of points.
  • This can be played with either 3 or 4 people on the court per side, though from a competitive perspective probably is best suited for 4-person teams.

Additional Comments:

  • One thing to think about in how you run this drill is how to arrange the players if you’re going to have 4 people on the court with one at the net. Normally in The Hard Drill you would have that person be just the setter. By introducing the competitive element with this game, though, blocking becomes a consideration. As a result, you may want to use middle blockers at the net, which allows them to work on blocking the back row attack and also to work on taking the second ball.
  • Obviously, it make sense to first introduce The Hard Drill.

Small-sided volleyball games

A long time ago someone in soccer decided it was better for younger athletes to play small-sided games. I recall this shift in my youth when we kids were playing in our town league. My sister was among the first to play 7 v. 7 on a smaller pitch (field) rather than 11 v. 11 on a standard one, which my brother and I had both played.

We’re now at least starting to see a similar sort of focus in volleyball. Volleyball England is dedicated to using small-sided games (primarily 4s) in the younger age groups. Schools in England are going that route, both in terms of teaching in Physical Education classes and in inter-scholastic competition. John Kessel of USA Volleyball is a big proponent of mini volleyball.

Small-sided games for everyone!

Small-sided volleyball games aren’t just for young and/or new players, though. They can be quite useful in many ways for training more experienced groups as well.

And I’m not just talking here about running something like Winner’s 3s, which many teams do. That is certainly a game played with fewer players, but it’s played on a full-sized court in most cases. What we’re looking at here is smaller teams on a smaller court. For example, British school kids play 4s on a badminton court.

Consider the purpose of this. Fewer players means more touches per player, while the smaller court means less area for them to cover leading to more rallies (the latter was the reason for FIVB shrinking the beach volleyball court). The net result is lots more contacts for all the players.

I’ve used small-sided games a great deal in training both the EUVC and Devon sides, and no doubt will keep doing so moving forward. In addition to all the added touches, I also like that working on a smaller court forces players to be more precise in their serving and attacking, and to do more problem-solving in terms of finding ways to score when there’s less court to aim at.

The other nice thing about small-sided games is that you can integrate just about anything you want to focus on into the play. This makes them extremely flexible.

For example, if you want to work on the quick offense, or conversely defending against a quick offense, you can introduce bonus points for kills from quick attacks. If you want to work on hitting against a potentially well-formed block you can have teams playing 4s use a 3-up/1-back formation, putting 3 potential blockers at the net against each swing. And of course you can use some kind of wash scoring system as well.

These days making training as game-like as possible is a major focus of volleyball coaching. Small-sided games offer the advantage of being able to do just that, without having to sacrifice contact frequency.

Game: Newcomb

Synopsis: This is a great way to introduce the basics of volleyball play to new players and can be very useful in working with teams on positioning and movement.

Age/Skill Level: This game is suitable for beginners and lower to intermediate level teams.

Requirements: Court, two teams of players. This game does not require a proper net, just a rope or something else strung at an appropriate height.

Execution: This is volleyball played with throwing and catching. There are (or have been) some rules specific to the official game of Newcomb, but the primary ones are balls must be caught (not hit, blocked, patted, etc.), no steps are permitted by the ball-holder, there is a 3-second holding limit, and throws must be made from the ground.

Variations:

  • For more advanced groups things like throwing from in the air (alley-oop style) and blocking may be permitted.
  • For developing groups a mixture of Newcomb and proper volleyball contacts may be allowed.

Additional Comments:

  • The game can be used to work teams on movement and positioning for things like offensive and defensive transitions.
  • If played competitively, this game can also get players thinking about finding open areas on the court in advance of working on skills like setter dumps, tips, roll shots, etc.
  • Played at a sufficiently high level, this could be a good warm-up.

Game: Touch & Go

Synopsis: This is a good warm-up game which gets players thinking, communicating, and working on ball-handling precision across a variety of skills.

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

Requirements: Full court, 6+ players.

Execution: This is a short-court game played inside the 3 meter line (anything beyond 3m being out), so split the squad accordingly. Serves must be executed from behind the 3 meter. Play is otherwise as normal, with one exception. After each contact, including the serve, the player touching the ball must run to the back of the court and then return. If a player fails to do so, then subsequently touches the ball again it is a point of the opposing team.

Variations:

  • Space is a consideration, but ideally for higher level athletes you should make the point at which the players have to run far enough back to force them to sprint to get back in to play and not leave large areas of court exposed.
  • Play the game to a number of points which fits in with the amount of time you want to allocate.
  • Bonus points can be designated for skills/plays you want to encourage (tips, roll shots, quick attacks, etc.).

Additional Comments:

  • This is a good game to encourage communication as the players will fall into a habit of reminding each other to run. They will also quickly learn to talk about where they are on the court, especially after having just done a run.
  • Because they are playing short-court, this game really forces players to work on fine ball-control skill, particularly when serving and attacking.
  • The one thing you hope to see (though you may have to motivate the players to think about it) is players intentionally attacking weak points in the opposing team’s defense.
  • You may need to encourage more aggressive play from your better players so it is not just a progression of easy tips and free balls over the net.

Game: Winners (a.k.a. King/Queen of the court)

Synopsis: Winners is a a rotational game which can be a good 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, 9+ players, 3 balls.

Execution: Designate one side of the court the winners side. Have one team of three start there, with everyone else on the other side – the challenge side – with one team on and the rest waiting. The team on the challenge side serves, and the teams play out the rally. If the team on the winners side wins, they stay, otherwise they exit and the challengers move to the winners side and a new team steps in on the challenge side. Continue for a set period of time or until some objective is reached.

Variations:

  • For lower level teams where serving is inconsistent, the coach can initiate the ball to start each rally.
  • On a missed serve one can either say the whole team loses and switch in a new team, or just the server can be replaced.
  • Fixed teams can be used if there are the right numbers.
  • Lower levels players could go with 4s rather than 3s
  • To increase rally length (and thereby touches) play could be limited to only part of the court.
  • Attacking can be limited to only certain types – back row for example – or anything goes.

Additional Comments:

  • This is a good game to use when you have so many players that 6vs6 becomes limiting, and in tryout type situations when you’re trying to get general playing impressions for a number of players without having the constraint of set positions.
  • 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.
  • 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: Bingo-Bango-Bongo

Synopsis: Bingo-Bango-Bongo is a 6 vs. 6 transition oriented game which gets players focused on scoring points in a row using a little point/big point type of structure.

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

Requirements: Two teams of 6, two coaches/players, half a dozen balls.

Execution: Start with two teams of 6 on the court and one coach (or spare player) on the sideline on either side of the net with balls. One coach initiates a free ball across the net and the teams play through a rally. When that rally finishes, the other coach initiates a free ball in the opposite direction. The coaches then continue to alternate.

When a team wins a rally they get Bingo. If they win a second rally after that, it’s Bango. A third rally win in a row produces Bongo. At that point the team with Bongo serves for a point. If they win the service rally they get a point and the teams rotate. If not, the cycle begins again fresh with a free ball to the serving team.

Note, when one team wins a Bingo, the other team resets back to nothing.

Variations:

  • In order to give middle blockers a break, you can flip the teams back to front rather than rotating when a big point is scored. I often do something like 1-4-2-5-3-6.
  • You can rotate/flip both sides on a big point, or just the winning side if you want to maximize time working on weaker rotations.
  • For lower skilled teams (or when you want to move things along more quickly) you can do Bingo-Bango and have Bongo be the big point. In other words, the serve for point would happen after just two rally wins in a row rather than three.
  • This could be done with smaller groups, like 4v4, in a smaller space.

Additional Comments:

  • The coaches should initiate balls as quickly as is safe to do so to keep the tempo high. This forces the players to maintain focus and adds a conditioning element.
  • Any players not involved in the game should be alert to keep balls out of the way so things can move quickly – and no one risks injury.
  • Since this is a free ball initiated game, it offers opportunity to wok on specific free ball plays for teams having advanced offenses.
  • Coach should make sure the team not receiving the free ball is quickly getting to defensive base as the ball is being initiated.
  • While playing the game with smaller groups like 4v4 would limit the ability to working on full-team free ball offense, there would still be the opportunity to work on elements of it. For example, the setter and middle hitter could work on first tempo balls.
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