Synopsis: This variation on Winners is a small-sided rotational game which can be a good playing warm-up and/or a way to get a large number of players playing for assessment and other purposes.

Age/Skill Level: This game is suitable for all levels.

Requirements: Full court, 6+ players, 2 balls.

Execution: Designate a “winners” side of the court and have two players begin there. One player starts in the court on the other side, with a second player in service position. The remaining players are off the court waiting. The ball is served and a rally played out. The player whose error ends the rally goes out. If the player is on the winners side, the non-server from the non-winners side moves over to take their place and the server steps in with a new server stepping up. If the error-maker is the non-serving player on the non-winners side, they go out and the server moves up with a new server coming in. If the server is the one to make the error, a new server takes their place any everyone else stays where they are.


  • Depending on the level, you could cut the playing area down, such as using a badminton court or half a standard volleyball court.
  • Players can accumulate points on an individual basis for rallies won (or only rallies won while on the winners side).
  • Constraints can be placed on types of attacks – such as backrow only, no tips, only roll shots, etc. depending on what you might want as a specific focus.
  • A lower levels, a coach could start the rally with a free ball rather than having players serve.

Additional Comments:

  • At lower levels the vast majority of rallies end as the result of errors, but at higher levels things like kills become a feature, making it less obvious who should go off at the end of the rally. As such, you may have to either have a bit of coach intervention or to establish clear rules.
  • If you have several courts of this game going, you can have players move up or down based on who scored the most or fewest points. For example, the three players with the most points move up a court, the three with the least move down.
  • While you certainly could run this game with a larger number of players than 6, going too much beyond that would likely prove counterproductive as players will be out for lengthy periods. In that case, it would probably be best to try to find ways to split the group up – perhaps to play on smaller courts.
  • While it’s certainly possible to play a 3s version of this game, keep in mind that adding players lowers touches per player and potentially increases the complexity of managing player movement through the game.
  • I saw this run at England Cadet/Junior National Team trials.

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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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