Volleyball Coaching Concept – Build-up drills

I previously discussed the idea of planning your volleyball training sessions from the end back to the start. The thought there is to be able to build toward a desired training focus or outcome. It also can create a progression from lower intensity and more technical work toward higher intensity, more tactical action. The same can be done for drills by progressively adding complexity.

For example, let’s start with a simple hitter vs blocker type drill – one RS blocker, a setter, and perhaps a few hitters attacking through 4. The starting focus can be on the blocker properly positioning themselves and executing technically sound blocks.

The next step would be to add in a middle blocker. We’ve now just raised the complexity by introducing the need for the pin blocker to sync up with the MB.

The next step could be to add a quick middle attack on the hitting side. This will keep the MB from cheating toward the outside attack and make for a more game-like situation.

Next we can add in one or more defenders working on playing around the block. There are also various options for adding in passers and different types of ball initiations to further extend both the game-like quality and the complexity.

This sort of build up is something you can do if you want to move toward working on something specific. In this instance it might be a defensive system in which you’re integrating the blocking scheme with the floor defense. You can do the same sorts of progressions to work on offensive systems and plays.

Progression drills do not have to be for working on complex play, though. You can use them just as well for working on more fundamental aspects of play. For example, turning a standard hitting line from something where a toss goes into the setter to one where a pass is required is a progression. You could then step up the complexity by taking it from a free ball pass to a down ball pass to a serve receive pass or maybe to a dig. By doing so you are increasingly linking game actions together so players are not working just on skills in isolation, which I always strongly advise.

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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