The following scenario/inquiry came up in a volleyball coaches group on Facebook.

I’ve got a strong 15’s girls team. In drills we pass pretty alright even when I’m hammering serves at them (trust me, I serve harder than the average 15 year old girl). In matches we struggle. I’ve come to the conclusion that we are deciding too late who’s ball or more likely we are waiting for someone else to take charge before we commit to passing. My questions are 1. Anyone have a good fix? 2. What are some other serve receive strategies to help define passing responsibilities better?

Fortunately, it seems like the poster of the question has a good sense of the problem. Unfortunately, they seem not to have progressed to the logical answer:

Make them pass together more!

It’s really that simple.

OK. Yes, you definitely do need to define passing responsibilities – seams. Keep in mind, though, that this is only a starting point. The players need to be able to work out adjustments between themselves on the fly as the situation dictates.

So how do you work on this?

You will probably jump to something like a drill that has 2 or 3 passers instead of just one as an easy adjustment. Certainly, that’s a potential starting point. How about something equally easy, but more game-like?

Doubles (including stuff like Winners and Speedball), if initiated with a serve, has lots of partner passing. You can easily do it on a narrowed court to reduce the amount of space they need to cover. This is the simplest way to work on seam management since there’s only one. As they progress, you can move up to triples.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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