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Tag Archive for free ball

Drill: 5-Player Passing and Movement

Synopsis: This is fairly simple group ball-handling and movement drill (though with room for increased complexity and/or intensity) that could be used as a warn-up.

Age/Skill Level: This is suitable for all levels

Requirements: 5 players, 1 balls, court, 3 cones

Execution: Place two players on one side of the court and three on the other. Behind the two players place one cone each, and place a third cone on the 3-player side in the middle of the court toward the back. What follows is a continuous ball movement exercise where the players on the 2-person side always pass the ball straight ahead over the net while those on the 3-person side always pass the ball diagonally. After one of the 2-person side players passes the ball, they circle around the cone behind them, while on the other side the passer loops behind the cone to switch to the other position.

5-player-pass-move-drill

Variations:

  • Players can be required to forearm pass or set the ball, or some combination.
  • The cones can be moved to challenge player movement to a greater or lesser degree.
  • A second ball can be introduced to increase tempo and focus requirement.

Additional Comments:

  • If using multiple balls in this drill you’ll probably need to have more than just the 5 players to keep the play flowing.
  • I saw this being run by German men’s professional team TV Bühl.

Drill: 5-player Pass and Set

Synopsis: This is a combination passing and setting drill, which can also incorporate controlled serving, and perhaps even hitting.

Age/Skill Level: This is suitable for all levels

Requirements: 5+ players, 4 balls, court, 2 cones

Execution: Place one player in each half of the back row, a setter near the net in the passing target zone, and one player each near the antennae as setting targets, with a coach on the other side of the net opposite the passers. The coaches alternate sending free balls to their passer. After a player passes the ball, they move to a cone set somewhere on the perimeter of the court and then back into position. The setter alternates setting forward and back. After 10 balls to each passer, they switch with one of the targets.

Variations:

  • Players can be used in place of the coaches to initiate balls to the passers.
  • Serves (from in the court or full) can be used in place of free balls.
  • Setter can either set the balls passed from position 5 to the target in 4, and the ones from zone 1 to the target in 2, or vice versa.
  • Rather than just catching the ball, the setter targets could hit.

Additional Comments:

  • Ensure your setter is always operating from your preferred target area to encourage passes directed there.
  • This drill can be run with just 4 balls by having each target start with a ball, which they then toss to the free baller (or server) after the latter sends a ball over the net to the passer.
  • I saw this being run by German men’s professional team TV Bühl.

Coaching Log – Jan 22, 2014

This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.

We found out midday on Tuesday that the match we were expecting to have on Wednesday was being pushed off. Both myself and the team were quite happy to hear that. For my own part, it gave me a chance to work on some key team developmental issues.

I actually had a meeting with the team captain and starting setter during the day to address several things. Part of that was getting the players more focused on what was happening on the other side of the court to improve anticipation and general positioning.

After the dynamice warm-up, I started training with serving and passing triples, but going off tosses to get reps in faster. I then had them do some target serving. It was focused on hitting the seems rather than zones as had previously been the case. Not surprisingly, there weren’t many targets hit but it gave me an opportunity to reinforce the requirement for proper mechanics when focusing on a more narrow zone.

From there we progressed to the Get-2 serve receive drill. I ran it to a target of 30 3-passes, with a -1 on an overpass and the count resetting to 0 if a ball dropped with no move to play it. I think the team went back to 0 a total of 5 times, once when they had gotten to 28. A couple times it was failing letting a deep seem ball go between two players – the exact serve we were working on. This was obviously a frustrating drill for the group. I stopped it at one point to reinforce expectations. At the end I tried to moderate the frustration a bit by talking about how challenging our good serves were making the drill, especially in the beginning.

From there I had them do a couple minutes of hitting against the wall to work on mechanics, then we did a few minutes of hitting lines before moving into 6s. The latter featured first 6-rotations of the 22v22 game. Then I had them just play a regular game so I could take some video for them to be able to review.

During the 22v22 game both myself and my assistant had whistles to stop play if we spotted either positional errors or lack of proper reading of the play on the other side of the net. This included stuff like anticipating free/down balls, adjusting to sets outside the pin, failure to properly cover hitters, etc. It didn’t take long before the team – especially the starters – was fully engaged and making the correct calls and getting into the right spots. I’m not a big fan of stopping play, but it needed doing and there was an obvious improvement, so the overall focus and intensity level was actually better than it might otherwise have been.

We’ll have one more training on Monday, then finish up our BUCS league play with an away match on Wednesday and a pair of home fixtures on Thursday. Before then we have a day of regional league play on Sunday.

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.

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.

Variations:

  • 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: Baseball

Synopsis: Also known as softball- this game concentrates on both serve receive and free ball play in a way which has one teams strongly focused on scoring while the other is equally strongly focused on not allowing a point.

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

Requirements: two teams, full court, 6 balls

Execution: This game begins Team A serving to Team B. If Team B fails to win the service rally an out is registered. If Team B wins the rally and gets a point (run). It then receives a free ball. If it wins that rally, it gets another point and receives another free ball. This continues until Team B loses the point, at which stage an out is registered. Team A then serves again. This continues until three outs are made, at which point Team B becomes the serving side. An inning is complete when Team A reaches 3 outs, at which time the teams rotate and a new inning starts. The team with the most runs at the end of six innings wins.

Variations:

  • The game could be played with fewer than 6 players, in which case there would be less than 6 innings, but you could double up to extend the game.
  • To increase focus on winning the serve receive rally you could make that worth more points and/or make a first ball rally win worth extra.
  • Similarly, you could make winning the first ball in a free ball rally worth extra.
  • And of course there’s plenty of room for bonus points if you want to encourage (or discourage) certain things.
  • You can add on an extra inning at the end which pits the best rotation from each team against each other either as a last inning or as some kind of winner take all.

Additional Comments:

  • Since only the team receiving serve can score points (kind of an opposite to sideout) there is the opportunity for that team to be more aggressive than might otherwise be the case. As a result, this can be a good game to use if you want to encourage the players to take chances hitting hard, using new plays, etc.
  • Keep the tempo up by having a new free ball initiated as soon as the rally is dead. This gets players focused on the next play and adds a conditioning element.
  • Consider the impact anything you might do with the serve receive rally to make it more meaningful will have on serving. Certainly if the receivers get more points for winning a first ball, for example, then the servers will quickly realize how penal a missed serve becomes – unless you don’t count that in the scoring structure.
  • If you play this regularly, you’ll want to consider how you set the starting line-ups for each side to either mix up the match-ups for balanced appraisal or to concentrate of certain rotations in different ways (like matching strong vs. weak).
  • This can be a quite helpful game in identifying problem rotations for further concentrated work. Unfortunately, the stronger offensive rotations will tend to get a lot more opportunities in this particular game. On the flip side, from the perspective of the serving team the rotations which struggle to stop points being score will actually tend to get more work.

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.