Synopsis: Winners is a wave or rotational game that has a high tempo and provides players with lots of good quality touches. It can be a good warm-up and/or a way to get a large number of players playing for assessment and other purposes, among other things.

Age/Skill Level: This game is suitable for all levels.

Requirements: Full court, 9+ players, 3 balls.

Execution: Designate one side of the court the winners side. Have one team of three start there, with everyone else on the other side – the challenge side – with one team on and the rest waiting. The team on the challenge side serves, and the teams play out the rally. If the team on the winners side wins, they stay. Otherwise they exit, the challengers move to the winners side, and a new team steps in on the challenge side. Continue for a set period of time, or until some objective is reached.

Here’s an example of what it looks like.

Variations:

  • For lower level teams where serving is inconsistent, the coach can initiate the ball to start each rally.
  • On a missed serve one can either say the whole team loses and switch in a new team, or just the server can be replaced.
  • Fixed teams can be used if there are the right numbers.
  • Lower levels players could go with 4s rather than 3s
  • For better players and/or on a smaller court you can play 2s.
  • To increase rally length (and thereby touches) play could be limited to only part of the court.
  • Attacking can be limited to only certain types – back row for example – or anything goes.

Additional Comments:

  • This is a good game to use when you have so many players that 6v6 becomes limiting, and in tryout type situations when you’re trying to get general playing impressions for a number of players without having the constraint of set positions.
  • By incorporating requirements into the play – must have 3 contact, all players much touch the ball, bonus points for quick set kills, etc. – you can adapt the game to work toward the training objectives you have for the session.
  • If you are playing 2s or 3s on a full court you likely want to use beach rules in terms of not allowing open-hand tipping and requiring sets to be straight forward or back (no sideways dumps over the net). Alternatively, you could just not allow such attacks in front of the 3 meter line.
  • There are lots of ways you can adapt this winners-stay structure to work on specific parts of the game.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently 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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