Some things we want our player doing on the court

There’s an article on the USA Volleyball website that shares “10 Things You Should Do on the Court” as indicated by some top coaches. The coaches contributing the 10 include the likes of Russ Rose, Hugh McCutcheon, and John Speraw. Here are the bullets.

  1. Outside hitters: Focus on the first contact before thinking about the third contact.
  2. Be disciplined with your block and avoid reaching out for the ball or drifting.
  3. Set attackers who are asking for the ball.
  4. When attacking, adjust your approach to the set.
  5. Serve it in after 20, after timeouts, and when your opponent or teammate has just missed.
  6. In beach, keep talking to your partner.
  7. Setters: Take tight passes and keep your hitters off the net.
  8. Understand that you’re always involved in the play.
  9. Setters: Error high rather than low when setting the middle attacker.
  10. Be ready to play.

Go to the article to see what the coaches say about each point. Meanwhile, I’ll share a few thoughts of my own. I think a couple deserve specific comment.

For #3, while I understand the idea, I think our coaching objective is #8. We want our players always ready for the next phase of play. Ask players from my teams and they will tell you that I harp on the idea of “What’s your job right now?” If a player is one of the attacking options they should be ready. Asking for the ball shouldn’t be necessary. That said, I do understand the value of it from the perspective of inexperienced players.

With respect to #5, I am definitely a coach who thinks in terms of momentum with respect to serving.To that end, I don’t like seeing missed serves in a row. I do understand, though, that at times you have to stay aggressive. That’s why I’m a little hesitant about saying no misses after 20. I do know some top coaches have this philosophy. Mike Lingenfelter talked about something along these lines in the Volleyball Coaching Wizards – Wizard Wisdom book.

I think #6 doesn’t just apply to beach. Indoor players should communicate constantly as well. This isn’t even mainly about calling the ball, though. There’s a lot more to the game than that.

I definitely agree with #9. Setters have a major tendency to under-set their middles.

What do you think about this list? Are these things you try to teach your players? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John most recently coached for an NCAA Division II women's team. That followed a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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