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.

Another good 2-player exercise that has a really good focus on working out seams is Flip-Switch.

6 Steps to Better Practices - Free Guide

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter today and get this free guide to making your practices the best, along with loads more coaching tips and information.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

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.