Here’s an interesting request from a volleyball coaching group.

I need a 6v6 game that involves serve receive and penalizes (points) teams when they send free balls over. Anyone have one that works well before I make one up? Trying to emphasize getting in a position to hit the ball during play and work on serve receive at the same time.

There are a whole lot of ways you can score games to motivate attacking over giving up free balls, many of which include giving bonus points. One that immediately comes to mind in this situation is to give the other team a point. Basically, they get rewarded for causing a free ball situation to happen.

Of course, there’s some nuance here. First of all, what do we count as a free ball? That probably depends based on your level of play. Second, we don’t want to encourage just mindlessly swinging when the odds of success are low. So we can’t have a scoring system that encourages this kind of thing.

Flipping that last point around, we do want to encourage intentional play. By that I mean the players legitimately work to create a reasonable attacking options. For example, we don’t want them to just bump up a high ball in the middle of the court for someone out of the back row to swing at. We want them to use their brains and pick out the best option available.

And related to that, we also have to be clear what we count as a legitimate attack. If you’re players just tip the 3rd contact all the time, is that much better than giving up a free ball?

Let me close with one final point. It’s all well and good to encourage players to take the extra risk involved in attacking rather than giving up a free ball. You cannot, however, contradict that risk-taking mentality by harping on errors. You have to be consistent in your messaging.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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