How to stop overpassing

Overpasses are a persistent problem for many teams. Whether it’s in serve receive, on free balls, or on defense, teams which send the ball straight back over to the other team shoot themselves in the foot. This can be especially damaging when playing against good opposition.

So how do we prevent overpasses?

There are a couple of ways to approach it. Let’s take a look at each one.

Correct the mechanics

The cause of overpasses is a passing/digging platform angled incorrectly. It’s that simple. The platform angle is too close to perpendicular with the floor and not close enough to parallel. Thus, the first thing to look at is whether that is coming from poor mechanics in the passing or digging executions. If not, it’s just something which requires a minor adjustment.

For example, is a player not moving to the ball properly or not creating a good platform. Alternatively, is the player moving in to position well but just getting the platform angle slightly wrong for the type of ball they are playing? If it’s the former, that means work on basic mechanics needs to be the first priority.

Change the target focus

Overpasses often come about because players are trying to be too precise with their passes or digs. That can be corrected by letting them know they don’t need to be perfect. It’s OK to make a mistake off the net. In some cases, like digging or passing hard serves, you can actually get them focused on what is sometimes referred to as “Target 2”. That is essentially the 3m line in the middle of the court.

Negative consequences for overpasses

When playing a match, there is a negative consequence for overpassing. Usually, the other team rams the ball back down your throat. To reinforce this in training there must be a negative consequence to an overpass in drills. My favorite way to do this is to make an overpass a deduction in drills where the players have some target count. For example, if players have to get to 20 good passes, I make the overpass -1. You do something similar in a game using bonus points (or deductions in this case). That encourages them to make the mistakes in their passes on their side of the net rather than on the other side.

Those are the three things I do to get my players to keep the ball on their side of the court when digging or passing. What about you?

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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