This is from early in my second season coaching the University of Exeter women.

Priorities: Physically and mentally demanding session to quickly get players back into serious training mode after the try-out and selection process, start establishing team mentality

Training time: 1.5 hours

Space: 1 court

Players: 16

– – – The Plan – – –

Initial Warm-up: I had the team do a dynamic warm-up to start, knowing it was going to be a physical practice.

Ball-handling warm-up: I then had the players pair up and do a bit of passing and light pepper.

Serving warm-up: I had them partner up across the net. They started at about half-court just serving the ball back and forth with a focus on good mechanics. As they felt warm they backed up until they got to the point of doing full court serving.

Target serving: I had them do around-the-world serving where they had to get a good serve into each zone 1-6.

Serving and passing: I used the Get-2 passing drill as a fast-moving serve/pass exercise with a goal of 32 good passes. Overpasses were -1 and balls hitting the floor with no effort on them sent the count back to 0.

Position Hitting: In groups of 3 on both sides of the court, I had the players pass a free ball then hit, with the rest on ball collection and feeding duty. I then had the middles spend time running quicks. Using the small groups kept the tempo high for those in the drill, forcing them to do a lot of movement, transition, and jumping in a relatively short window of time.

Defense: To really push the players mentally and physically, I had them go through the Continuous Cross-Court Digging drill.

Team play: I finished up with Winners 4s

– – – Observations – – –

Although the group had already gone through the selection and try-out process, there was still the question of player commitment in some cases. Along with wanting to quickly get training at a high, demanding tempo and intensity to facilitate some needed conditioning work, I was looking to expose any potential commitment cracks. In other words, I wanted to encourage any who might be inclined to quit to do it now rather than in a couple of weeks.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently Technical Director for 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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