Tag Archive for advanced

Drill: 2-Task Ball-Handing Shuttle

Synopsis: This is a straight-forward small-group ball-handling drill, but with an added dimension which forces players to have teammate awareness and focus on their next duty.

Age/Skill Level: This is suitable for all levels

Requirements: 5+ players, 1 ball per each player but one (so 4 balls for 5 players)

Execution: Begin with two short lines of players with balls on either side of the net, and one player without a ball near the net on one side. The first player in line on the side without the player at the net (P1) tosses the ball over the net to the player first in line on the other side (P2) then moves to the net on their own side. As the ball is crossing the net P2 tosses the ball they are holding to the player at the net (P3), then plays the incoming ball back over the net to the next person in line (P4). P3 catches the ball tossed to them by P2, and moves to the end of the line on their side of the net. After passing the ball to P4, P2 moves to the net. As the ball crossed back over the net toward them, P4 tosses their ball to P2 and the cycle repeats.

Variations:

  • You can specify how players play the ball over the net – forearm pass, overhead passe, pass to set and tip, etc.
  • The player at the net can be required to execute some skill with the incoming back (e.g. set to self) before going to the back of the line.
  • You can run the drill for some number of balls over the net or time without a ball hitting the floor (including the tossed ones).

Additional Comments:

  • You will observe two primary causes of balls hitting the floor beyond simple errors in balls played over the net. One is bad tosses to the target player near the net because the ball just gets thrown in a panicky fashion. The other is balls not caught by the target player because they were too busy ball-watching. The primary motivation of this drill is on those two points of contact.
  • If run in multiple groups, it could be made into a competitive drill.
  • I saw this run at England Cadet/Junior National Team trials.

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.

Game: Neville Pepper

Synopsis: This is a game similar to Winners but with a fixed team on one side for a set period of time, and with the ability to focus players on certain training points.

Age/Skill Level: This is suitable for all levels

Requirements: 9+ players, several balls, full court

Execution: Divide your squad up into at least 3 teams. Place one team on Side A of the court with the other teams set up in waves playing through Side B (like Winners). After ball initiation, the teams play out the rally. The team on Side A stays there for a set period of time (2-3 minutes) while the teams on Side B wave through after each rally.The team on Side A is the only one to score points. After their time is up, a different team takes over Side A. The team with the most points when all teams have gone through is the winner.

Variations:

  • You can vary the amount of time a team spends on Side A.
  • You can use fixed setters if you don’t have enough for each team to have one.
  • Points can be as simple as rallies won, or you could count them based on specific areas of focus (digs, block touches, certain types of attacks, serve receive pass quality, etc.)
  • The ball can be initiated in various ways, either to Side A or Side B, depending on what you want to have the players working on – defending, free balls, serve receive, etc.

Additional Comments:

  • If you want longer rallies you can shrink the court, opt for back row attacks only, and/or add more players. Whether longer rallies is desirable may depend on your training objective.
  • Along with positive points earned, you can apply point deductions for things like overpasses, lack of communication, etc.

Game: 7-point Rotations

Synopsis: This game focuses on serve reception and gives considerable attention to weaker rotations.

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

Requirements: 2 teams, full court, one ball

Execution: This game is actually played as a series of mini-games. In each game one team serves every ball and both teams stay in one rotation for the whole time. The first team to score 7 points wins the mini game and gets to rotate. They serve the next mini game. The losing team stays in their rotation and is the receiving team for the next mini game.

Variations:

  • You can play for more or less than 7 points, depending on whether you want to lengthen or shorten the rotations.
  • Bonus points can be employed to focus on certain things. For example, 2 points can be given in the case of a stuff block, an ace, a successful quick attack, or a first-ball kill.
  • You can play until one team gets through 6 rotations, until both team get through 6 rotations, for time, or for some other objective.

Additional Comments:

  • Because this is a serve-initiated game it will tend to be played at a slower general tempo than games such as Bingo-Bango-Bongo where a new ball is initiated as soon as a rally ends. That could result in lower intensity levels, depending on the team. This is something which must be considered and accounted for in practice planning.
  • Since a team cannot rotate until it wins a mini game to 7, you can easily see situations where one side has to play multiple mini games in the same rotation in a row. This has the plus of concentrating reps on weaker rotations, but has the risk of frustrated players struggling mentally.
  • Also, because a team can win mini games as the serving side without ever having to do serve receive in that rotation, you may want to have a plan for making sure those “missed” rotations get at least some reps.

Game: Scramble

Synopsis: This coach-initiated game is good for working on a variety of out-of-system type situations.

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

Requirements: 2 teams, full court, several balls

Execution: This is a coach-initiated game. Each rally begins with the coach playing a ball to one side. The rally goes on per usual from there. When the rally ends, a new ball is immediately initiated.

Variations:

  • Russ Rose at Penn State uses a variation in which he puts in 4 balls – with the ball going to either side – then has both sides rotate.
  • The balls can be initiated all to one side for some given period of time (30 seconds, 1 minute, etc.)
  • Score can be kept to make it a proper game that finishes with a specific objective being met.
  • This is suitable for small-sided play.

Additional Comments:

  • You can use this game to focus on certain aspects of the game that your players struggle with – balls off the court, balls in the net, etc.
  • To encourage full commitment to keeping the ball off the floor you can do something like adding time or extra balls if a team lets a ball drop without sufficient effort.
  • If you make the ball you initiate the first contact – meaning the players must get the ball over the net in only 2 contacts – you will have something akin to the Virus game.

Drill: Hitter Tourney

Synopsis: This is drill which can be used to put hitters into a competitive situation for the purposes of assessment..

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

Requirements: 7 players, 1 ball, full court

Execution: Place three back row players (including a setter) and a blocker on one side, and a setter, a defender, and an Outside Hitter on the other side as per the diagram below. The 4-player side serves every ball to either the defender or OH. The teams then play through a rally. On the receiving side the OH must attack every ball (if possible). On the serving side, only back row attacks are permitted. Play out 10 rallies and keep track of how many times the OH’s team wins.

OH tourney volleyball drill

Variations:

  • You can run a similar drill with right side hitters, or even back row attackers.
  • Since the serve is only going to the D or OH on the receiving side, you can have the Setter start in any zone to work on movement to target.
  • The setter on the serving side could also be the Blocker, allowing for the insertion of a third defender in the back row..
  • You could potentially alternate OHs on a rotation rather than having one player go through 10 straight reps.

Additional Comments:

  • This drill was described by USA National Team setter Courtney Thompson in a seminar at the 2013 American Volleyball Coaches Association annual convention.
  • For the most fair assessment of hitters, have them work against the same defensive group and have the same setter and defender on their side. That doesn’t prevent you mixing things up and running the drill for multiple cycles.

Drill: 2-and-1 Pepper with Movement

Synopsis: This is a nice 3-person pepper variation which could be used as a warm-up drill and/or to work on ball control in general terms.

Age/Skill Level: This is suitable for all levels

Requirements: 3 players, 1 ball

Execution: Have two players off the net and one at it (or otherwise put the players somewhere on the court with a bit of space). The player at the net attacks the ball at one of the pair off the net. The non-digger takes the second ball and sets it back to the hitter. The two diggers then switch positions before the next attack. Continue for time or a given number of successful dig-set reps.

Variations:

  • For lower skill levels the player at the net can substitute a passed or set ball for a hit.
  • The hitter can either hit to the same spot each time (meaning players alternate digging) or can randomly pick which direction to hit.

Additional Comments:

  • A potential coaching focus point is the footwork used in the position change.
  • Players should be able to problem-solve preparing for the set and giving themselves time for transition before having another hit come their way, but less experienced players may require a bit of nudging in the right direction.

Drill: Back and Front Setting Warm-Up

Synopsis: If you’re looking for something to use to get players both front and back set reps using relatively little space, perhaps as a warm-up, this could be one your want to use.

Age/Skill Level: This is suitable for all levels

Requirements: 2-3 players, 1 ball

Execution: Place one setter in the normal target position and another near the right antenna. Have a coach also along the net at a distance away from the setter near the right antenna equal a normal outside set. If you think of the setter as being in zone 5 along the net, it is 4 places to zone 1 where outside sets go. Thus, if the right antenna setter is in zone 9, then the coach should be in zone 4. The coach passes/sets the ball to the setter in the normal target area, who back sets to the player in zone 9, who then sets all the way across to the coach. The players switch positions while the ball is in the air and the coach plays the ball to the target area once more, keeping the action continuous.

Variations:

  • You can replace the coach with a player.
  • You could insert a 4th player off the net as a passer. In that case the coach would play the ball to the passer and things would proceed from there.

Additional Comments:

  • I saw this drill used as a warm-up by the Norway U17 girls team.
  • In the basic set up, this drill has the advantage of using little space. It could be run up near a wall rather than by the net, if necessary.

Game: Virus

Synopsis: This is a game which encourages better out-of-system play and decision-making on one side, and good recognition of play development on the other side.

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

Requirements: 2 teams, full court, a few balls

Execution: This is a coach-initiated game. Rather than starting with the serve, the coach puts in a ball which represents either the first or second contact. The side receiving the ball then has the remaining contact(s) to get the ball over the net. Play is as normal from there.

Variations:

  • The ball can either be initiated to the winning team to make it similar to standard game conditions (and to benefit the rally winner), or balls can be initiated on an alternating basis if there’s an imbalance between the teams.
  • You can rotate when a team wins a rally after having lost previously (like siding out) or after a specified number of rally wins.
  • Bonus points can be incorporated.
  • This game is suitable for small-sided play.

Additional Comments:

  • If a variable number of contacts is to be allowed to the receiving team, the coach should yell that out when initiating the ball.
  • Only allowing teams a single contact will tend to work on good free ball and down ball execution (assuming a good initiation). Allowing two contacts can bring in attacked 3rd balls if the initiated ball does not require too much scramble/chase.
  • If you’re looking to encourage aggressiveness in the 3rd ball (get a swing or down ball rather than free ball) make sure failure of execution is not overly penal.
  • If you’re looking to discourage certain types of plays (free ball to the libero, for example), you can have a penalty.
  • Make sure to not just focus on the ball-receiving side and what they are doing with the third ball, but also on the other side in terms of their recognition of free ball, down ball, or attack and the appropriate defensive positioning.
  • By only rotating when a team is able to win a given number of rallies, you can focus most of the playing time on the weakest rotations.