I want to extend here on something I only touched on very lightly in my post about calling the ball. It has to do with the idea of team playing efficiency.

My point in that other post is that if we teach players their responsibilities in different situations it largely avoids the need to call the ball. There’s more to it than just the talking element, though. That’s what I want to address in this post.

An example

Let me begin by providing a real-life example as a reference point.

Once upon a time I watched the live stream of a college team play in a match. At one point they were defending against a right side attack. The setter was back row, so she was in Position 1 and the opposite was in Position 2. The ball was hit relatively sharply cross court, but not particularly hard. It was well within the opposite’s area of responsibility, and not a difficult one to dig. Both the setter and the opposite went for the ball, however, nearly colliding in the process.

The opposite did make the play in the end, as she should have done. The movement of the setter to go for it, though, took her away from making the move to target she should have been making. Instead, she had to scramble around her teammate to get to the ball after the dig. The result was a decidedly sub-optimal offensive situation.

Why were those two players both going for the same ball? Because their coach preached a mentality of “Just go for the ball,” rather than one which made clear positional responsibilities and held players accountable for them.

Understanding the situations

The above is perhaps a subtle example, but it’s the sort of thing we’re trying to avoid when aiming for maximum playing efficiency. Here are some other things we don’t want to happen.

  • The setter taking first contact on a relatively easy ball over the net
  • Our best hitter taken out of the attack by a serve or attack to a certain area
  • An attacker setting a non-attacker because they didn’t let the non-attacker take the second ball.
  • The setter and a back row player colliding when both try to set a poor pass or dig.
  • A back row attacker jumping on the back of a front row player who is backing up.

Think about your team and the types of situations it faces in a match. Then think about the best way for the team to get the most out of them – and potentially avoid injury – and teach them to your players.

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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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