This post basically seeks to answer the question: How should I start working with someone brand new to volleyball?

A while back I got an email from my brother. His oldest daughter was entering high school. Apparently, she’d decided to go out for the school volleyball team. This wasn’t necessarily a new thought for her. I recalled a volleyball being on her Christmas wish list a couple years prior. Up to then, though, she concentrated on competitive swimming, and it sounded like that would continue. The timing of the decision was unfortunate. Had it come a few months earlier she could have played 14-and-unders club volleyball that season. Oh, well.


My brother asked the school coach for some advice on preparing Darling Daughter. Apparently, they suggested she take part in a U15 developmental program run by the local Juniors club I co-founded back in 2001. I was glad to know the club maintained its reputation since I left in 2007. 🙂

I, of course, told my brother that sounded like a good idea. Naturally, summer camps were also an option. He just needed to be sure they had a low level/beginner group and weren’t just for experienced players.

Unfortunately, a camp or weekly series of training sessions only goes so far. They could prepare someone in terms of skill. They would fall short in terms of playing experience and getting ready for August two-a-days. More time and more game-like reps are really required to start to develop the foundational skills and the physical conditioning.

Back at home

My brother played volleyball in high school himself, though baseball was his primary sport (in our state at the time, boys’ volleyball was a Fall sport while the girls played in the Spring). Naturally, I told him to get out in the backyard and pepper with his daughter to help work on her ball-handling skills. I also said to get a net up so she could practice serving and passing and general game play.

On the physical side, my niece’s swimming background probably put her in quite good stead in terms of shoulder and core strength. The issue for her was the jumping and low posture movement and positioning in volleyball. I suggested to my brother that he get her doing a lot of good spike approach reps to both develop the skill and to condition the legs. Of course, working on all the types of court movement footwork and patterns was a good idea, but we need to start somewhere.

If it was your brother, what would you say? What kind of advice would you give someone in this situation?

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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.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.