Priorities: Offset lead-up sessions with lots of technical work with one largely focused on competitive game play, though not 6 v 6 because of positional considerations. Assess conditioning levels. Put players in problem-solving situations. Give MBs time playing back row.

Training time: 2 hours

Space: 1 court

Players: 12, only one setter

– – – The Plan – – –

Initial Warm-up: The team did a dynamic warm-up before practice started

Get them moving game: Played Brazilian Volley Tennis to start them moving and competing.

Shoulder warm-up: To prepare for hitting/serving, we did the first two parts of Progressive Triples, but in a cooperative fashion (8-in a row).

Winners 3: Pro-Trips moved into Winners 3s. It was back row attacking only, unless you got a free ball. In that case you could hit on the net.

Cross-Court Games: Next in the progression was Cross-Court 4s. The team was split in half. Everyone rotated, so they all set and hit. Games were played to 8 earned points (kill, ace, block) with serves initiating each rally. Teams rotated when they sided out (like a normal game). The first game was Left v Left (players in 4-5-6 plus a front row setter). The second was Right v. Right (6-1-2, setter in 3). The teams split those, so we did a tiebreak that was Right v. Left.

5s Games: The last pair of games were 5 v 5 in a 2-up/3-back structure, with one side having OH and MB front row players and the other RS and MB. We designated the area without a front row player as out. Wash scoring was used, with the winner of the serve rally getting a second ball. If they won that one as well, they got the big point. Games were to 7 big points. After the first game we switch sides so each team played one game OH/MB and one RS/MB. One side had the setter and a libero, who played in fixed positions, with the 2 OHs and 2 MBs on that team rotating in their positions. The other side decided to have a RS play fixed setter with all the other players just rotating through all the other positions.

– – – Observations – – –

Mixing the players up and putting them next to people they don’t play beside very much (e.g. OHs and MBs in reception), and having them in some new scenarios, exposed areas for improved communication. The MBs definitely got a lot more reps in the defensive realm than had been the case to that point. The players liked the work/rest ratio and the overall conditioning load.

An injured player kept passing stats for the whole practice where rallies began with a serve. Overall that was 140 balls. It was interesting to see the distribution. As expected for a competitive environment, the better ball-handlers received the fewest balls.

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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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