Many, if not most, coaches use some form of wash scoring games in their practices. For the most part they involve winning rallies in some combination or pattern.

For example, the 22 v 22 game requires a team to win two rallies in a row – one that starts with a serve and one that starts with a transition ball. Bingo-Bango-Bongo, on the other hand, requires a team to win 3 rallies in a row, then win a service point.

Generally speaking, the idea of wash drills is to put a specific focus on a certain part of the game. In the Bingo-Bango-Bongo example, it’s being able to score service points. There is also an added intensity element that tends to come with wash games, and some conditioning benefits.

Here’s the thing, though. In just about every wash drill I’ve ever seen the objective is to win rallies. What if, however, we thought about things differently?

What other outcomes could you use?

In the A couple ways to develop mental toughness post I mentioned the idea of a server needing to serve the opposing team out-of-system in order to earn the big point. You could flip that around and require a certain passer to pass a good ball.

What are some other things along these lines?

  • How about the block needs to get a meaningful touch on the attack? I’m not talking finger-tip stuff here. Rather, they must redirect the ball in some fashion, even if it’s not playable on their side.
  • What about an attacker must, at a minimum, keep the other team from getting a good swing in transition from their attack? By that I mean if they can’t get a kill outright then they have to create a difficult scramble situation for the defense.
  • Or the reverse of the above – the team has to get a good transition swing from a defensive situation?
  • And further along the lines of individual pressure, what if only a certain player could score?

Along with giving the team who completes the proper sequence the big point, you could potentially also give them an additional point for winning the rally – or give the other team a chance to steal the point if they win it instead. That way you can still have a full rally play out.

What do you want to work on? Think about how that thing could be incorporated into your wash scoring.

Getting process oriented

Outcome oriented scoring is all fine and good, but what if we’re in real teaching mode? What if we want players to work on specific techniques or tactics in game situations without concern for the outcome, but you still want the competitive element?

In that case, you’ll want to have some kind of process-oriented element involved in the big point. Here are some ideas for that.

  • The serve has to be below the height of the antennae.
  • The middle blocker must use the correct footwork
  • The pin hitter must attack the ball off the block
  • The setter has to get into correct posture
  • All the hitters must be on their correct steps based on offensive tempo

I’m sure you can think of loads more. It just comes down to whatever you want the player(s) in question working on. And as I noted above, you can play with the scoring so that there’s reason for the rally to play out no matter what happens with the initial sequence.

Wheel of options

In thinking about how you could plan out which player (or players) get the focus for the big point, an idea occurred to me. Instead of specifying exactly what will happen, you can make it a random thing. This may not let you focus on something specific, but it does have the advantage of being more reflective of how pressure situations develop in matches.

To facilitate this random draw you could put the different options on a wheel to be spun. Or you could create a set of cards, slips, or balls to be drawn when the time comes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of this. Have you done any of this? Do you have ideas for wash variations along these lines? Feel free to share them in the comment area below.

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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.

    3 replies to "Thinking differently about wash scoring"

    • Mario Rodríguez

      Saludos cordiales John.
      Me parecen sensacionales tus artículos, en especial este, sobre variantes del Punto lavado.
      En lo particular me ha sucedido que en una etapa entrene casi todo el tiempo con puntos lavados, el resultado en el juego fue bueno, pero en el estado de ánimo fue contrario, ocacionando a veces irritación y fastidio.
      Con el tiempo entendí que no debía abusar tanto de esta valiosa herramienta y la he podido equilibrar con situaciones analíticas y sintéticas manejando más libremente la puntuación, pero sin dejar de perseguir el elemento que deseamos entrenar.
      Muchas gracias por por permitirme expresar humildemente mi experiencia relacionada con la puntuación lavada.

      • John Forman

        Encantado de que te guste el blog Mario.

    • Jorge Rodriguez

      Great idea with the random suggestion! It can even help the players spice things up a little and not fall into routine(boring) sessions

Please share your own ideas and opinions.