This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.

I wanted to work on a couple of things in this training. Specifically, I wanted to continue the focus on blocking which I’ve been developing in the last couple of weeks. I also wanted to introduce a rotational defense as something we could want to go with in the Championships (we’ve been playing a fairly standard perimeter defense thus far).

After dynamic warm-up, I had the team do serving and passing triples to get a bit of light ball-handling in. I then walked them through the rotational defense and did some positional digging for MB and OH players to have them work on the movement patterns. I didn’t extend it further than that because that was leaving many players out.

I followed the defense work with positional hitting and blocking. I had the OHs hitting up against the OPPs and MBs, then the OPPs vs the OHs and MBs. I picked on two major points of focus. One was block positioning, as I’ve witnessed the pin blockers often failing to properly adjust the position of their block based on set location and hitter approach angle. The other was timing as latest was a regular problem in our matches last week. My assistant coach took video to show players what they were doing.

I wrapped up the hitting by having the MBs work on quick attacks of a pass. This meant having much of the team on ball-retrieval duty, but they did a good job of being supportive and cheering on the hitters.

After that we did winners 3s, but only using 2/3rds of the court, width-wise to encourage rallies. I did that to prepare for full-team action to follow.

Unfortunately, one of the MBs hurt her thumb during the blocking, so we only had 10 available to play 6s. I hadn’t planned on anything which really required proper 6-person teams, but it did force me to keep the two available MBs in the front row the whole time while I could flip OHs and OPPs and Setters around. The first game I played was Second Chance so I could encourage aggressive hitting and work on other weaknesses.

After that I moved to the Scramble Game. This was the first time I’ve used it for this team. My decision to do it was so that I could reinforce some ideas like playing with composure in frantic situations and covering teammates and open court areas. I went with a variation where I introduced balls to one side for a minute – adding 15 seconds if they ever didn’t go for a ball. After each side scrambled I did a positional flip which effectively meant we played four “rotations”. We kept score and it ended 31-30, so I guess I did a good job picking even teams. 🙂

Things wrapped up with the Pit Drill – a.k.a. coach-on-1. This is also something I’ve not done with the players before, so I wasn’t sure how long to go. I opted for a conservative 30 seconds, but immediately realized 45 seconds probably would have been the better choice.

Unfortunately, on the very last ball to the very last player we had an ankle injury. Otherwise, I felt like the training did a good job of building in intensity and working on the key focus points. I need to come back around to the rotational defense to have it used in actual game situations, which I couldn’t really do this training, but should be able to do next week. Likewise with getting quick attacks into the play consistently. Blocking seemed improved and I was generally happy with the hitting.

One thing I do have to get much more involved in training next week is serve receive. It’s something I haven’t given a great deal of focus to recently, beyond some serving & passing drills. I’ll need to get it into the flow of the 6s work rather than starting play with free balls, scramble balls, etc.

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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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