Let’s face it. We don’t always have the resources we’d like in our gym. Here’s an idea I had once to overcome one of those sorts of limitations.

This idea was actually inspired by something a fellow coach did in practice one day. We had a training session with some younger players (8-10 year olds) in parallel with 15s team practice. That meant a low net – about 5′ – on one of the courts. One of the coaches later used it with the 15s to do some team defense work. Basically, it let him attack the ball at the team without needing to jump. You see, we didn’t have any boxes.

I wasn’t a big fan of that particular drill. It wasn’t the low net. After all, I talked about that sort of thing before. My issue was the pace and lack of player involvement (too many inactive). It did give me an idea, though.

One of the drills I like to do from time to time with my teams is Continuous Cross-Court Digging. I’m not the biggest fan of defense based on hits from boxes, which the drill normally requires, but sometimes it lets you do things you can’t do otherwise.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have any boxes in the gym. Seeing the team do defense on the lower net, though, gave me an idea. Why not run Continuous Cross-Court Digging on the lower net with the hitters standing on the ground?

Yes, the angle is different because the net is 2’+ lower. There’s still a read element from the hitter’s shoulders and arm swing, though, and the other main focuses of the drill remain intact. So we had a coach hit from one side and a player hit from the other.

Predictably, the player attacks were erratic. That’s why we had the coach do one side. It’s a good exercise for them, though. The defenders have to deal with less predictable hits, which is more realistic. At the same time, they are working on better control as hitters.

Overall, running the drill on the lowered net worked out pretty well. The net was low enough that even some of our shorter players could hit over it – especially if they stood back a bit (like hitting a set off the net). I’d do it again. And we were asked us to run it again the next practice, so at least some of the players liked it too.

So here’s the question. Can you think of ways to work around equipment or space limitations in your own gym to accomplish your objectives?

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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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