This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for 2014-15.

Last night’s session was 90 minutes long in the big gym on the main campus. The big gym offers two distinct advantages.

First, there’s ample service area to allow us to work on match-like serving. In our other gym, one step from the back wall and you’re in the court.

Second, there’s a balcony running along the end of the hall. There’s one in the other gym too, but it runs along the side. And because it looks right down on the court, it’s basically impossible to get a camera angle with full court coverage.

That being the case, it was my intention to take advantage of the better surroundings to allow the players to work on match-like serving and to get video of them playing 6 v 6 – both to allow me to do some statting and so they could see what they’re doing (or not doing) on the court.

I was also potentially going to have a trialist at the session.

Well, the trialist didn’t materialize (apparently she’s not arriving on campus for 2 weeks???). I had one of the men’s players on hand to help out with some stat-taking and video, so the session actually went pretty much as planned. After dynamic warm-up I had them play Touch & Go to highlight court communication needs and to get them thinking about what’s happening on the other side of the net. They then did a serving warm-up, after which I split the group in half by A and B teams for station work. One group went with me on the side to do some digging (singularly and in pairs), while the other did serving and passing where they were scored on the 0-3 scale. The last part of training was dedicated to the 22 vs 22 wash game, with integrated squads.

Not surprisingly, the A team did far better in the passing than the B team did. They came in at 1.70 (vs just above 1.00). This is about in line with where the A team players from last year were when I took stats early in the season. The difference there, though, was last year the A team players were receiving serve from both A and B team servers whereas this year it was A serving to A. I’d therefore suggest we have at least a little bit better passing at this point in the season than we did in 2013-14.

I definitely got myself a work-out hitting for the defense drill!

I had my helper video all the players during the serving so I can provide the ones in need of technical work (most of the team, really) a side-by-side comparison of their technique to something more optimal. I also had him video the 6 v 6 so I could share it with them, and potentially do some stat collection. The latter may not really be of any use, though. The quality of play was very poor in general terms.

Because of that last observation, I’ve decided that at least for the next few weeks as we get ready for the first A team BUCS matches (the B team won’t play until probably November) I am going to have to split the A and B groups when doing 6 v 6 because the better players are getting very little out of being in integrated squads. The B players are just too weak. This will mean I have to get creative in setting up games and scoring systems and ball initiation strategies to be able to push the A team players while also giving the B team a chance to have successes of their own.

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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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