Once upon a time, Mark Lebedew wrote Hidden Motivation – The Sequel. The title refers to a previous post on the subject of understanding why players make certain decisions. It’s the stuff at the beginning of this one which caught my attention, though.

In the post, Mark talks about how in training he has his team play 2-contact small-sided games. This is for a couple of reasons. One is to shorten the time between contacts. Another is to get them thinking about how to score (and prevent) points in a wide variety of situations. In fact, I watched Mark’s BR Volleys team play games that perhaps were not 1-touch by design, but ended up being that way. If you watched the team play when Mark coached them you saw those guys unafraid to attack from just about anywhere on the court.

I regularly use small-sided games and/or small-court games to increase player contacts. I really like the idea of reducing the number of contacts as well. Too often I see players forgo kill opportunities because they feel like they need to play 3-contact volleyball. Ever watch a player set a second ball passed in a perfect attacking position? Then there are times they send a first ball over that ends up being little more than a free ball! One issue at a time, though. 🙂

Granted, a great deal of time and effort is spent drilling the 3-touch mentality into young and developing players. At some point, though, we need to be training them to use their brains. They have to learn to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

It’s up to us coaches to not only encourage our players to problem solve, but also to ensure they feel comfortable making the errors which are an inevitable part of the learning process.

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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.

    2 replies to "Using 2-touch games to challenge your players"

    • markleb

      Thanks for the comments. I guess you saw the point that won the championships 🙂
      Last year I went to a World Tour beach volleyball event and was constantly infuriated by teams insisting on using three touches, and therefore allowing the defence to organise, when they could clearly have gained an advantage, if not a direct point, by playing the first or second ball over.

    • John Forman

      This discussion reminds me of my younger days playing against older, wiser players. They didn’t hesitate to shoot a ball over on one or two if they saw an opening – score the point, conserve energy. We whipper-snappers, meanwhile, felt it was somehow amoral to not use all three contacts.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.