Volleyball coaching is primary a mental exercise. That said, however, there are a few physical skills which are quite handy. That’s aside from being able to be on one’s feet for lengthy periods of time! In fact, if you are looking to be an assistant or apprentice coach, these are virtual must-have skills. After all, you are most likely to be an active participant in initiating drills. Likewise if you coach a team by yourself.
Quite a few volleyball drills and exercises are initiated with a toss. If you cannot accurately toss a ball then you will struggle to get the sort of consistency needed for your players to work on specific skills. If you’re in any doubt, watch what happens when your players do the tossing. Think of things like balls initiated to the setter for hitting warm-ups. You can toss either under-hand or over-hand (like a setting motion). Either is fine so long as you can consistently put the ball where you want it.
It may seem like an easy thing, but a consistent and accurate underhand ball takes a bit of practice. Anyone can pop a high loopy ball over the net and into the middle part of the court. What a coach needs to be able to do, however, is hit balls to all parts of the court. And they need to do so at different tempos.
Training defense, be it team or individual, requires accurately initiating an attacked ball. It could be from on the ground on the same side of the court. It could be across the net by way of a down ball. Or it could be over the net from on top of a box or chair. This might be strictly a defense drill. Maybe it’s part of transition exercise (dig – transition – attack, for example). Regardless, you need to put the ball where you want. That could be straight at the player, high/low, to one side or the other, or in front. And it requires a pace appropriate for the level of the player(s) in question.
Much of the time it makes sense to have players initiate balls in a drill with serve receive included. Sometimes, though, it behooves the coach to take that on themselves. To do so effectively, the ball needs to go where you want it to go much more often than not. Now obviously a float serve isn’t always going to end up exactly where you aimed it, but it should be pretty close.
You also need to be able to vary the speed of the serves, and it helps to have enough of a repertoire at your disposal to replicate any kind of serve your opposition may throw at your team. That doesn’t mean you need to be able to rip a powerful jump serve yourself, but you should be able to come up with a way to simulate something close (hit topspin balls from a box midway into the court, for example).
If you don’t have them…
If you are a volleyball coach without these four skills you are going to be very limited in what you can do with your team. As a head coach you can perhaps get around any limitations you may have by bringing in an assistant coach to make up for the short-coming. If you’re aiming to be an assistant coach, however, you are in a disadvantaged position by lacking these abilities when it comes to finding work.
There’s no magic way to get good at any of these volleyball coaching skills. Just as with your players, it’s all about reps.
Be sure to take care of your body, though. You are just as prone to overuse injuries as the athletes, if not more so in some ways. Learn how to take the strain off your shoulder when hitting and serving, and make sure to work on your core so all the twisting from those activities doesn’t do in your back.
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