On Volleywood there’s a post discussing 5 things players should never do on the court. The first one is about making sure you stay in the play at all times and don’t switch off when the ball isn’t yours or in your area. The fourth is about not giving up on your teammates. I link the two together in terms of what happens on the court. The article goes beyond that in terms of the not giving up, though.

The basic point I harp on repeatedly with my players is that there’s ALWAYS something to do right now. That’s true no matter where the ball is on the court. And it’s something active, not something passive. Maybe it’s transitioning so you are ready for a set. Maybe you have to track back toward the end line with your teammate who plays a ball to call the line and be ready to run down a shank. It might be following your teammate off the court when they’re in pursuit to be available to play the ball when they get it up. It may be a little adjustment to your defensive or block position based on the other team’s first contact. There are so many little things. Each of them is necessary for cohesive team play.

Every player must understand that at no point when the ball is in play should they ever be static. This is the real difference between competitive volleyball and the backyard variety. Some people think of our sport as not being particularly physically demanding. I’ve run across many of them over the years. This is usually because they never saw it played properly in person. You can’t get quite the same feel via TV or video. Once they do, their minds change completely!

It’s up to us coaches to reinforce that players must always think about what they should be doing next. Obviously, we want that to be automatic rather than conscious thinking all the time. We have to start somewhere, though. Players need to be made to understand their next responsibility. They need to know why it’s important and to be held responsible for getting the job done.

Coaching tip: Reinforce this by whistling play dead whenever you see a player not sticking with play. Immediate feedback like that tends to make it easier for everyone to recognize what should be happening than talking about it later.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Volleyball Technical Director for 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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