Sometimes it’s worth going back to basics. What are we trying to do with our practices? It can be easy to lose track. Here’s a quote from the book The Science of Volleyball Practice Development and Drill Design that hits the mark.

“Volleyball experts have concluded that there are three basic performance objectives to be achieved from volleyball training: first, to provide the experiences that will enable each player as well as the team to develop their maximum potential; second, to mold a group of individuals into a team; and third, to prepare a team for those situations that will occur during competition. Individual and team potential can be accomplished only if practice develops the behavior patterns and motor programs necessary for goal achievement while preparing players for every situation that could arise when competing.”

Let me try to put things more simply.

  • Develop individual skills and team tactics.
  • Create the team concept of how you play together.
  • Practice the type of situations the team will face in matches.

I think a lot of coaches focus too much on the first, and not enough on the second and third.

Obviously, it’s important to improve player skills and team tactics. This is especially true for younger players. We have to keep in mind, though, that these skills and tactics have a context. They are not something happening in isolation. Rather, they happen in team coordination and in a variety of scenarios. Failure to work on those elements produce ineffective team play. It also means players don’t learn good decision-making.

And yet, where does so much of coach education focus? Drills and games to work on skills and tactics.

Do coaches work on situations? Sure they do. For example, a lot of coaches work on things on the basis of rotation. An example of this is Broken Wheel, an exercise described in this coaching log entry from 2017. And some are good at understanding the need to include quite a bit of out-of-system work.

But do they drill down? Do they look at situations within the rotations? Do they specifically focus on out-of-system play based on different types of scenarios that may come up?

And do they really look at how the players can best work in coordination? That includes things like seam responsibilities and fostering the right kinds of communication.

This is a feature of the sample sessions in the pro volleyball training course. It is also a foundational concept of tactical solutions training.

Are you doing enough of these sorts of things in your practices?

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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.

    1 Response to "The objectives of training"


      I thought I have ‘Create the team concept of how you play together’ covered in our practices, but apparently after last night’s performance there is some concerns. Against a opponent that was clearly below our level, we lost the first set, struggle to win the 2nd & 3rd.
      Normally you have a like to your discussions. If you have one that I can review in addressing ‘Create the team concept of how you play together’ please do provide. Or give me your feedback in what I can possible do to address this issue.


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