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 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.
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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