Over the years I’ve seen – and even used earlier in my career – drills where players are blind to ball initiation. Here’s a coach describing one such exercise with respect to serve receive.

Blind serve receive. Buy 6 cheap shower curtain liners and one set of hooks. Hang them on the net so the kids can’t see the server and have them receive for a good while like that.

Another example is playing a 3-touch drill where the players start facing the back wall. They don’t turn around until they hear the ball slapped (or bounced, or whatever), find the ball, then play it out.

You’ll hear coaches justify these sorts of blind drills in a couple of ways. One of the most common is to try to improve reactions.

Here’s the problem, though.

There are two ways to improve reaction times. One is physical development – becoming more explosive through work in the weight room and the like. The other is to improve anticipation. In other words, reacting more quickly because of better reading. In the case of this particular drill, specifically reading the server.

Basically, every cue in volleyball is visual. As such, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to a) use auditory cues to initiate things, or b) to remove the players’ ability to see the cues involved. Doing so actually stunts their development in the key area of learning to read – and thus anticipate – play, and thereby improve reaction time.

Give that some thought as you plan your drills and games.

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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.

    1 Response to "Remember the importance of visual cues"

    • DavidB.

      Never did understand why coaches slap the ball each time when feeding in. To the best of my knowledge you are not allowed to slap the ball then toss it during a game.

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