It’s been a while since my initial volleyball teaching log entry. I figure now is a good time for a second one as I just put my students through their midterm exam. So here goes!

I ended up with a total of 9 students. I lost the male student I started with, but picked up another one, and also added a female student. Nine isn’t a great number, but at least I can mix my grad assistant in to balance the numbers out when required.


Classes are somewhat like coaching. Obviously, the difference here is that I’m not training them to compete as a team. It’s more about them developing their skills and playing a lot. It is, obviously, a participation class. Thus far I have generally had the players do skill type work in the first half of the session, then made the rest be a mixture of small-sided and full-court games.

The skill stuff is mainly serving and serve reception. I have them do a partner serving warm-up every session. I sometimes do target serving after that, and sometimes they play serving games (like Amoeba). I also have them do serve and pass in groups as well.

In the last few weeks I’ve been working on encouraging most pass-set-hit when they play games. That’s been through bonus points. Initially, I gave them for just attempting to attack. Then, as they became aggressive, I shifted to just giving them for kills. I also started giving them for blocks as well.

Basically, I am gradually working them toward playing a more complete version of the game.

Off-Court Stuff

Along with the skill and game work, I have spent time on rules and other stuff. Since most of the group has played before, they are largely up on them. We went over referee hand signals, line judge responsibilities, and overlap rules. There was a day when we could not use the court, so I did a video session. We watched some of the 1964 Olympics, as well as a little of both the USA men and women from the 2016 Olympics.

The exam

So here’s what I did for their exam. I came up with a long list of volleyball questions. Most of them were about rules. I mixed in a bit of history, though, too. I also asked them about the 2016 Olympic USA men’s and women’s teams, as well as the Midwestern State team. I randomly ordered the questions before the exam. I had the students draw lots to determine their order (1 to 9).

Here’s how it went. I asked a student a question. If they answered it correctly, they earned points. If they did not, the next person in line could either answer it or request a new question. I went one time through the list of questions, then went back through and re-asked questions not correctly answered the first time. Correct answers on the second round earned more points. I’m told this format is called a randomized tournament.

After the question round, I broke the students into three groups of three. They were required to list the players on the USA and MSU rosters. They earned points based on how many players they correctly named.

My grad assistant liked the format. I liked how it helped the education process overall better than if they just answered them individually on paper.

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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.

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