The following question was once posted in a volleyball coaching group.
I have a question about how you guys coach your teams differently based on the level. As in if the team you have in any particular year is younger, less experienced, less motivated etc. Do you use the same drills but let them out of the drill early if they don’t get it or do you explain the importance and stick with a drill even if it takes all practice?
Let’s first address the question of whether you use the same drills and/or games across different skill and age levels. The answer to that is in some cases you can, and in some cases you can’t. The easiest example of this is a drill highly reliant on ball-handling ability. If you have a team which has not yet reached the point where they can pass or set well enough to make the drill work, then you have to go with something a bit less complex.
By that I mean this. There are games and drills which are simple in that they involve only one or two skills. A target serving drill, for example, only requires the players to perform one skill – serving. If you do serve reception, then the players perform two skills – serving and passing. As you add additional skills, you increase complexity. For example, if you add hitting to the serve reception you bring in the additional skills of setting and attacking.
Low complexity drills can be performed by just about any group. Your target level for completion may be lower, though, for the less-skilled ones (for example, a lower number of 3 passes required to finish a serve reception drill). It’s the higher complexity ones which require more skill and thus may not be suitable for lower level and/or younger groups.
Run to completion
As for whether you run a drill to completion, even if it takes all practice (or longer!), that depends. If you have three priority items for that training that you really want to hit, then put a time limit on any one activity. That way you are sure to have time for everything.
If that game or drill represents the single most important thing you want to focus on that session, then you may want to consider letting it run to completion.
Be careful, though. You don’t want to lose the players. If they get too frustrated they might just shut down. Once that happens, nothing afterwards is worth anything in their development. If you see the focus starting to slip, I would suggest either altering the game/drill or cutting it short and going back to it later to finish.
Coach the same?
Beyond what you do with your games and drills, I definitely think you coach teams differently. This isn’t just about their level of play, etc. Even teams of a similar level are different and require a slightly different approach.
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