Synopsis: This is a wash style game that put’s a premium on siding out, especially on the first ball.

Age/Skill Level: This is a drill for intermediate to advanced players.

Requirements: 2 teams, one court, multiple balls

Execution: One team is the serving side and begins each sequence with a serve. The teams play out the initial rally. What happens next depends on the result.

  • First Ball Sideout (FBSO): Receiving team gets a down ball. If they win that rally they get a big point.
  • Sideout (but not FBSO): Receiving team has to win 2 down ball rallies to earn a big point
  • Service team wins really (aka Break Point): Receiving team has to win 3 down ball rallies to earn a big point

The game is played for 15 balls. Then things are flipped so the serving side becomes the receiving team. Winner is the team that earns the most big points when they are receiving.


  • You can adjust the number of serves you play to lengthen or shorten the games.
  • How you enter the additional balls can be varied by what you want to work on and/or the level. They could be anything from free balls up to tossing a ball into the serving team to attack at the receiving one.
  • You can reduces the number of extra balls at each level so that FBSO is an automatic point, non-FBSO means 1 ball, and service team point requires two ball.

Additional Comments:

  • A consideration is how to deal with missed serves. At the simplest level, you can be count them as an FBSO. If you want to allow servers to be more aggressive with their first serve (tennis serve concept), you can allow a second. Alternatively, to make sure there’s a rally, you can enter a free ball (or have the serving team do so) on a missed serve.
  • This is a game you could potentially play in an imbalanced way (though without flipping it so the weaker team receives). For example, the serving team could be short-handed. Or if you’re working in and A-team vs. B-team fashion. In these situations you’d want to incorporate scoring for the serving team into the game. The simplest way is for the serving team to get the point if the receiving team fails to get a big point. If you do this, though, you’ll have to work out a good balance in terms of extra balls.

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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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