This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.

We had several players missing from training, which forced me away from some things I would have otherwise done – in particular the team serve receive that I’ve talked about wanting to get some work on in practice. I had wanted to make it a mentally challenging session, though, and I was able to do that. When I say mentally challenging, I mean putting the players in situations where overcoming frustration and adversity is a major feature. This sort of thing happens just about each session on an individual basis, but sometimes you have to do it on a team basis as well to help develop the supportive nature of the group and to help them learn to figure out how to overcome difficult situations.

After dynamic warm-up, I had the team work on blocking footwork and then run-throughs. The latter is playing up a ball that is going to be short using a “J-stroke” technique to keep the ball on your side of the net.

We moved from there into serving. After warming up I had them serve the 1/6 and 5/6 seams. Then I had them do the serving and passing butterfly drill with a target number of 3-passes. Missed serves in a row was a bit of a problem, which I addressed.

The first of the really mentally challenging elements of training was the Hard Drill. This was the first time putting the team through it this season as it’s something hard to run with larger numbers of players. It took about 30 minutes to reach the objective of 10 hit-dig-sets without the ball dropping. That’s longer then I might have liked, but I wasn’t overly upset given it was the first time through. I did have them huddle up together at one point to take a short break and reconnect with each other. Overall, though, they didn’t show as much frustration with themselves or each other as other teams I’ve put through the drill, which was good.

I had been thinking to do the Cooperative Cross-Court Hitting drill after that, but we were getting short on time, so instead I did Run & Serve. The idea there was to keep up the mental pressure, but shift it to serving. They didn’t get through that drill as swiftly as they’ve done before, unfortunately. That only left a short amount of time, which I filled with straight up 2/3rds court 4 vs 4 play.

At the end of training I talked with the team about overcoming frustration and adversity, talking with each other on the court, and not making the little mistakes which can be the difference between closely matched teams. I also talked about keeping the training focus and intensity up even though we don’t have any matches (especially the 1st team) for a while now.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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