This is an open question to especially college volleyball coaches, but potentially also to professional volleyball coaches.
Do you do a serve & pass session on match day?
If so, I’ve got a few follow-up questions.
Do you do it both home and away?
How long do you go?
What do you do?
When do you do it relative to the start of the match?
I ask because I can’t help but wonder at some things.
Serve & Pass routines
While I coached there, it was regular practice in the Lone Star Conference (NCAA Division II, mostly Texas) for visiting teams to do 30 minutes on-court prior to the match. Generally, this happened in the hour prior to the 60-minute match countdown. For example, if the match was at 6pm, the visiting team might do a session from 4:00 to 4:30. Some teams looked to do them earlier in the day.
One of the other conferences in our area had a specific arrangement. The home team got 75 minutes before match start to 60 minutes (so 15 minutes). The visiting team then got 60 minutes from the start to the 45 minute mark. After that they shared until the 19 minute mark when the 4-4-5-5-1 begins.
These sorts of arrangements are not unusual in my experience. It was the same way when I coached in the Ivy League and in the Big South (both Division I). No doubt this sort of thing happens all over the country. When I coached in Sweden, we did a serve & pass session on home match days. For Saturday matches, it happened in the latter morning, with team lunch to follow (we played at 2:00 or 3:00). Visiting teams didn’t usually have time, though there was never an issue with jumping on the court before the 60-minute countdown started if the home team wasn’t on the court.
Serve & Pass, then full team warm-up?
One of the things I find curious is when a team does a fairly active serve & pass time, then roll almost directly into a full pre-match warm-up. Aren’t the players already warm?
I saw a team doing a fairly intense 45 minutes (well at least the end was fairly intense), then 20 minutes later start pre-match with a dynamic warm-up.
Why do that? Is it a case of being married to the idea that pre-match warm-up must always be done a certain way?
Why Serve & Pass on match day?
The next question I have is the value of doing a serve & pass session. To be clear, I’m talking about a session on match day, not something the day before. The automatic response from coaches, I’m guessing, is that it gives the players a chance to acclimate themselves to the gym. I’m also thinking there’s a secondary motivation of getting extra practice time – especially time that doesn’t count toward NCAA limits in the case of US college volleyball.
So where’s the trade-off between the value of getting those reps and the added physical and mental exertion on match day? Players have to mentally ramp themselves up for the serve & pass session, then obviously have the physical workload for that period of time. Then they have to wind back down, recover, and do it all over again for the match.
Are the extra touches worth the fact that the players probably won’t be at full 100% for the match?
I’d honestly like to hear some opinions.
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