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.


  • 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”.

Washing to increase scrimmage intensity

Over the years I’ve come to really dislike watching my teams go through simple scrimmage games in training. The intensity level feels too low and there isn’t enough actual play going on. I didn’t like it when I was coaching at Brown and I don’t like it these days coaching at Exeter. I find myself either feeling frustrated at the slow pace or getting twitchy wishing there was more action, more player ball contacts.

Last night was a perfect example. I was running a training session for the university women ahead of them playing in South West Championships this weekend. Unfortunately, due to exams the numbers were low – only 7 players, plus one representative of the men’s team. Naturally, that meant doing a bunch of 4 v 4 stuff in the game-play elements of the session.

At the end of practice I had them play a straight game, but narrowed the court by about a third to encourage longer rallies. After a couple minutes, though, I couldn’t take it anymore. It was just too slow. To up the intensity I added an element to make it a wash game rather than just standard scoring. I did that by initiating a ball to the team that won the serve-initiated rally. A team needed to win both rallies to score a point. The team winning the first rally served the next ball.

The result of adding the wash element was that after about 25 minutes of play the game ended 7-5. Had I thought about it ahead of time, I might have started the score to have it finish at 25, but this was an on-the-fly adjustment, as we sometimes need to make as coaches. I think the players would tell you adding the wash element made the game more intense and fun. I know I liked it a lot better as a coach.

Game: High Ball to Receive

Synopsis: This game works on hitters being more aggressive in challenging the block, which also means a focus on good hitter coverage, with additional work on serve receive and free ball attacking.

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

Requirements: Two teams, full court, a couple balls

Execution: This game begins with a coach-initiated ball to one team. That team must then run an outside or right side attack off a high set (no quick or faster tempo sets allowed on this first ball – and the ball must be hit, not tipped or rolled). The rally is played out from there in normal fashion (any set is permitted after the first ball). The winner of that rally earns the advantage to receive first a served ball, then a free ball. A point is awarded to the team which wins each of those rallies (not just the receiving team). The next coach-initiated ball goes to the other team. Play 8 points before rotating.


  • You could make this a wash game by forcing a team to win both the serve and free ball rallies (either just the receiving team or the either team).
  • To work on weak rotations you can require a team to get 8 points before rotating (or some number of big points under a wash system).
  • This could be used just as easily for small-sided games.

Additional Comments:

  • The idea behind the initial high ball attack is to get players to be aggressive about attacking the block (looking for seems, going high hands, etc.). As such, players should be required to take a legitimate swing at the ball and not permitted to tip, roll, or otherwise use an off-speed shot.
  • Encouraging the challenging of the block also puts a premium on hitter coverage.
  • I saw this game used by UCLA.

Game: 2 in 2

Synopsis: This is a simple, likely fast-moving, game which requires players to score in both serving and serve receive situations.

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

Requirements: Two teams, full court, 2 balls

Execution: This is a standard serve-initiated game with alternating pairs of serves (Team A serves once, then Team B serves once) using a wash scoring system. A team must win both the service rally and the serve receive rally to score a point. If one team cannot win both rallies, no points are scored and the two serves are repeated. Teams rotate each time a point is scored.


  • Depending on how long you want this game to go on, you could run it to a set point objective (15, 25, etc.), or just on a timed basis.
  • You can change the rotation rule to require a team to win a point before it can rotate (rather than both teams rotate together).
  • This could be used just as easily for small-sided games.

Additional Comments:

  • If you don’t count missed serves as rally wins for the receiving team you will encourage players to serve more aggressively. Just make sure the players don’t miss serves consecutively per the rules.
  • Requiring a team to score a big point to rotate would likely have the benefit of giving more reps to your weaker rotation(s).
  • This game was inspired by something I saw in Long Beach State training.

Game: 22 v 22

Synopsis: This game features 6-v-6 play, but with a major focus on serve receive offense, winning points in a row, and finishing a set.

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

Requirements: two teams, full court, several balls

Execution: One team is the designated offensive team. The drill starts with one team serving the other with play running as usual for that rally. If the receiving team gets a first ball kill they get a point. If not, that rally is a wash, though the winner of it will serve the next ball. Before that, though, a coach initiates three balls to the offensive teams. If either team wins all three rallies they get a point. If not, no point is earned by either side. The game continues until one team reaches 25. Repeat all six rotations.


  • To make getting the wash mini game point (the 3-ball part) a bit easier, you can award the point to the team which wins 2 out of 3 rallies instead of all three.
  • The coach can initiate the ball as an attack, a downball, or a free ball.
  • To have a more concentrated focus on serve receive you can have the non-offensive team serve all balls.
  • To make sure to give weak rotations more time, you can require a team to win the game before rotating, with the first team to go all six rotations winning overall.
  • This could be used just as easily for small-sided games.

Additional Comments:

  • I saw this game played at USC, though I may not have all the details exactly correct.
  • The focus here is obviously on first ball serve receive kills, and secondarily winning points in a row. The way the coach initiates the three balls also creates an opportunity to work on some other types of offensive play (e.g. free ball attack).
  • If you do have only one team serve you’ll want to allow for miss serves (but not two in a row) to encourage aggressive serving.