The following question came up in a coaching group:

How much 6v6 should you have during practice? As in start with serve. Winning team gets serves. Etc. Nothing gives more game like reps than a 6v6 game itself.

Note the clarification in that this coach is asking specifically about standard game-play. Start every rally with with a serve. No extra balls. Normal rotations. All that stuff.

I feel pretty confident in saying that for most coaches it’s going to be a pretty low percentage. Even coaches who spend the vast majority of their time working 6v6 in practice don’t just use simple games. They’ll make it a multi-ball activity by using washes, second chance, or other structured work (see tactical solutions training).

The reason you don’t see a lot of straight-up game-play is because coaches want to work on specific things and/or at a higher level of intensity (perhaps to add a conditioning element).

“But that’s not as game-like,” might be the argument.

It is true that standard play is as game-like as it gets. But the tempo tends to be on the low side and you can’t keep the focus on your training priorities as well because of the game’s randomness. And really, if you don’t have constraints, after the first contact things are fully game-like.

So it’s about balancing the value of fully game-like rally initiation with your needs for the exercise.

Personally, I tend to use standard games when I want to bring the intensity down a bit in an otherwise demanding session. But I’ll also use them to take the constraints off the players to see where they’ll go with things on their own.

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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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