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.
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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