Here’s a situation I saw posted in an online coaching group.

I broke down stats from our last tourney and they support what my assistant and I have specifically told our kiddos. Setting a ball over on the 3rd touch is not effective. Kill percentage on sets was 14% and kill percentage of spikes was 28% at the last tourney. Tips and down balls were also statistically better than sets. Sometimes we have to save the play and set it over, but a good chunk of the time, it’s just putting the ball back to play. Few are strong enough to shoot a set to a deep corner.

It worked when they were younger (I saw them play on occasion last year.) A year later, up a division, playing with a regular ball, the teams are better skilled.

I want to work on other options so they can gain the confidence to lessen those unnecessary setting attempts or sending over free balls when they could have attacked/tipped/shotted a less than ideal set. Our last tourney is 5-ish weeks away.

The reference to being up a division and playing with a regular ball suggests we’re talking about a younger team here. Maybe 14s? Any time you transition from one level/age to the next there’s going to be an adjustment. After all, the players need to learn a new set of what works and doesn’t work. The question this coach is basically asking is how to speed that up.

Honestly, the solution is a pretty simple one for me. Play games in practice where they can only score off non-set attacked balls. Or do other versions of process scoring based on attacking. And in terms of drills, do ones where they count for a good rep if they attack as desired.

The big issue is developing the understanding of the new need at this higher level at the same time as building sufficient confidence for the players to do this in a real game.

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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.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.