I know newer coaches like to get some help organizing their training sessions. One of the things I see them asking for is an example of a volleyball practice plan template.

Now, what exactly that means probably varies from coach to coach. The first college coach I worked for was a facilities planner by day. Not surprisingly, she liked very specific practice plans broken down to the minute. For most others I worked for it was more a list of things to do that session. Personally, I’m more in the latter camp. I have a sense of how long things are likely to take, or how long I expect to spend on them. I just don’t feel the need to plan things so precisely, allowing for more flexibility.

So what I’ll share here won’t be a plan template that says “Do this for 10 minutes, then that for 20 minutes.” Rather, I’ll give you a sense of how I build a practice plan for any given session.

My volleyball practice plan template

Here’s a basic framework for how I structure a practice.

Let me talk about each in order.

I’ve shared my views before on warm-ups. I want them to be productive. In particular, I prefer as much as possible for them to contribute to what I want the team working on that session. That could be something like doing over-the-net pepper exercises to put the focus on ball-handling before a session dedicated to serve receive offense. Alternatively, if I want a practice with a strong competitive element, I could start with something like 2v2 2-ball volleytennis. Either way, the idea is to get them both physically and mentally in the right frame for the rest of the session.

I then usually follow with a technical block. This is where we work in individual level skills. Sticking with the serve reception offense theme, here I would have one or more drills involving serving and passing. This is a point where, if you can, you might split the team by positions. For example, have the middles and setters working on a separate court. Perhaps rotate them through the other court to get in some serving as well.

The tactical block is where you focus more on collective actions. This runs from exercises where you’re only focusing on a limited part of things all the way up to full 6 v 6 tactical solutions training. In the case of serve receive offense, you might do something like working on your plays in a hitters vs. defense drill.

The Final Exercise is the destination of the course laid out by the prior blocks. It’s the thing I’m aiming for based on the session’s priorities. Basically, it comprises one or more exercises (usually competitive games) where the focus is doing what we’ve been working on in a full game structure. For example, 22 v 22 is a game with a strong focus on the reception phase.

You’ll note that each block builds on the prior one following a theme. That’s always my aim.

Depending on what you want to do, you can vary the amount of time you spend in each block. In fact, you can leave one or more blocks out, if that suits your needs. Want to focus a lot on technical work? Maybe drop the tactical block and do some process games in the final exercise that focus on the skills you’re interested in. Want to focus team play? Drop the technical block and expand the tactical and/or the amount of 6 v 6 you do in the final exercise.

Lots of ways to work with this basic structure.

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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.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.