Synopsis: This is a straight-forward small-group ball-handling drill, but with an added dimension which forces players to have teammate awareness and focus on their next duty.
Age/Skill Level: This is suitable for all levels
Requirements: 5+ players, 1 ball per each player but one (so 4 balls for 5 players)
Execution: Begin with two short lines of players with balls on either side of the net, and one player without a ball near the net on one side. The first player in line on the side without the player at the net (P1) tosses the ball over the net to the player first in line on the other side (P2) then moves to the net on their own side. As the ball is crossing the net P2 tosses the ball they are holding to the player at the net (P3), then plays the incoming ball back over the net to the next person in line (P4). P3 catches the ball tossed to them by P2, and moves to the end of the line on their side of the net. After passing the ball to P4, P2 moves to the net. As the ball crossed back over the net toward them, P4 tosses their ball to P2 and the cycle repeats.
- You can specify how players play the ball over the net – forearm pass, overhead passe, pass to set and tip, etc.
- The player at the net can be required to execute some skill with the incoming back (e.g. set to self) before going to the back of the line.
- You can run the drill for some number of balls over the net or time without a ball hitting the floor (including the tossed ones).
- You will observe two primary causes of balls hitting the floor beyond simple errors in balls played over the net. One is bad tosses to the target player near the net because the ball just gets thrown in a panicky fashion. The other is balls not caught by the target player because they were too busy ball-watching. The primary motivation of this drill is on those two points of contact.
- If run in multiple groups, it could be made into a competitive drill.
- I saw this run at England Cadet/Junior National Team trials.