This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log for the 2020-21 season.

The first half of this week was part of our initial alternating days schedule as part of the re-socialization progression. Once we got to Wednesday we shifted into the 2-week period where we could go 5 times per week.

Tuesday (6-8pm)

Had the same 6 players for this session as we did for the prior one on Sunday. It would have been 7, but one of the guys had close contact over the weekend with someone who tested positive for COVID.

We did the usual stabilization work at the beginning, with a bit of block-to-transition footwork afterwards. To prep their shoulders, and generally work in ball-handling, I had them do 3-person Over-the-Net Pepper before rolling into some serving.

The serving then rolled into Flip-Switch with setting and hitting as we did the prior session. From there we got to the main focus of the session, which was hitters vs. blockers. This was mainly to give our setter the opportunity to work on faster tempo pin sets, while also getting some blocking work in. We did rounds of MB/OH vs. MB/RS, first with the OH side attacking, then with the RS one. Things wrapped up with some more of the 3v3 game play we’ve been doing to let them compete a bit.

Wednesday (6-8pm)

Unfortunately, I had to cancel this practice due to lack of numbers.

On the plus side, we did get a potential addition to the team cleared to join us in training.

Friday (5-7pm)

I wondered all day whether we were going to be able to have practice given snow expectations. In the end, after consulting some of the locals, I decided to run it, but cancel Saturday. The weather geeks had a lake effect snow warning starting at 4pm, and running through 10pm Saturday. This ended up being the right call as we didn’t really have any snow through practice, while things were definitely dodgy Saturday morning.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the bodies I’d been expecting. The guy who had close contact wasn’t available after all (though he tested negative that morning) because he had to stay in quarantine for a couple more days (yes, frustrating). Another guy didn’t properly get his pre-practice COVID check-in done (due no more than an hour before), so he couldn’t go. Finally, wires got crossed with the new addition. He thought practice was cancelled.

So I was left with 5. While not optimal, it really didn’t change what I was able to work on. My focus was always going to be starting to work from a rotational perspective. Specifically, that involved moving our big MB to OPP and the guy who was probably going to be our OPP to OH. It’s a move motivated by our lack of OHs, plus wanting to be able to having that guy’s arm more available than it would be as MB.

The practice was fairly simple. We started with a 5-person over-the-net pepper exercise as the warm-up. I then had them do some serving. After that, we did a bunch of reception-to-attack. We basically had one each of Setter, MB, OH, OPP, and Libero. I picked Rotations 1 and 4 to work through so the guys shifting position were got work attacking both front row and back row. After a bit of time working out of reception, I had them do some transition attacking while in Rotation 1.

Sunday (10-12)

A full group at last! Or something like it at least. I had all 8 of the active guys for this session. Nice to have some flexibility and broader options.

After stabilization work we did some 4-person over-the-net pepper to further the warm-up and work in some ball-handling. From there I introduced to what I call Side v Side (from my MSU days). Basically, that’s a diagonal 4 v 4 team pepper. Not surprisingly, there were some struggles. They did eventually get a 10-in-a-row in the 4 to 4 version, but never quite got there when going 2 to 2. I see that a lot.

After some serving, we shifted to work on attacking out of reception. I had 6 guys in receive, with two serving. Periodically, I made subs and switched rotations. Later, I narrowed the focus to only part of the reception group so I could bring in a couple blockers. Given our small numbers, this is something I no doubt will have to do quite a bit of to work on stuff.

We ended with the competitive version of Side v Side. The scoring was only by kill or block. The guys definitely got into it with the chatter between teams and players.


One of the things I addressed a fair bit in the last week is both verbal and body language. We have some work to do on letting plays go, not dropping our shoulders on errors, and things along those lines.

We also need to work on our MBs being available. They were both a bit lazy about it this past week.

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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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