A while back I wrote about going beyond maximizing player contacts and the idea of read-plan-execute (RPE). In brief, RPE is what players do any time they play the ball. They read the contact before them, plan a solution, and execute the required skill. An issue with block training (simple reps) is it reduces the read requirement, sometimes all the way to essentially zero. That is why game-like drills are strongly preferred.
Going game-like makes sure we don’t lose the reading aspect of RPE, but what can we do to maximize our read opportunities? At the HP Coaches Clinic in 2015, Julio Velasco talked about watching as training. I’ve talked about this from a coaching perspective (see Tip for Coaching Volleyball: Watch more volleyball!), but the same applies to players. The more they see, the better they will be able to read the game. Karch Kiraly actually took that a little further. He in showed how players could do simulated reps when waiting their turn in line, which connects seeing and doing.
How can we increase reads in game play, though?
The answer is kind of simple. As John Kessell observed during one breakfast discussion at the clinic, you can have the players play 2-touch rather than 3-touch games. All else equal, it increases the over-the-net reads by 50%. There are also some other advantages to mixing 2-touch in as well, as I wrote about a while back in Using 2-touch games to challenge your players.
Of course there are trade-offs. You just need to strike a balance with your training focus.