A forum question was asked at VolleyTalk about using no/low-impact training sessions. The poster wanted to know whether/to what extent do coaches put in light sessions during their seasons. Whether this happens depends on the season structure and training calendar. After all, if you only train once or twice a week then you’re probably reluctant to “waste” a session through lower intensity. The players presumably have lots of time off in that kind of schedule.

College volleyball

Coaching college volleyball in the States, light training sessions are definitely a feature. Many college teams train Monday through Thursday. There are matches on Friday and Saturday, with Sunday the off day. A common pattern is for Monday’s training to be recovery oriented. The tendency is to concentrate on defense and ball-handling skills. Similarly, Thursday isn’t a full intensity session either, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it low-impact. It was more about match prep. That leaves Tuesday and Wednesday as the two full-on sessions each week.

Some conferences have different schedules. For example, in some cases they play Thursday and Saturday, or Friday and Sunday. Also, sometimes teams have matches on other days during week as well. Naturally, that changes which days are lower intensity and which are higher.

We do, from time to time, give players a day off. That is mainly based on recognizing a need for it rather than specifically scheduling something in ahead of time. Often, this happens toward the middle of the season. That’s when the grind sets in and players are usually also in the middle of exams.

High school volleyball

The high school level is different. In many States teams play midweek, often times multiple days. For example, they play Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If they don’t practice over the weekend, that’s two days off. Actually, this is true of some lower levels of college volleyball too. When I coached in New England the 2-year colleges and many Division III schools played mostly midweek.

In some places, weekend play features. That obviously changes things. I suspect a lot of high school coaches don’t really give too much thought to player fatigue. The athletes are young. The intensity of play isn’t always very high. Given the amount of overuse injury we see, though, maybe more rest should be incorporated.

Professional volleyball

When I coached in Sweden we trained four days per week and mostly played on Saturday. Sometimes we played midweek, but that was usually on what normally was a training day. So basically we had two days off scheduled. Still, at times I gave them an extra day off.

I recall at least one of them coming when we didn’t have a weekend match. I gave the team Monday off, making it a 3-day weekend. The professional season is a long one – especially in Europe. We started training at the beginning of September and started play in October. The regular season ended in March, with the playoffs running through April. That’s a long grind. A bit of a break from time to time is a good thing.

I think that’s an important point. When it comes to recovery, people tend to think mainly of the physical side of things. The mental side is just as important, though. Think about that when you look at your season’s progression.

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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.

    1 Response to "Making use of light training sessions"

    • Jodi Murphy

      A light session can still serve a purpose. Maybe you cut back on some of the more demanding drills and just let the team play. Give them time to remember how much fun they have while playing and reinforce that passion.

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