Do you remember playing musical chairs as a kid? How everyone was nice and getting along walking around a circle of chairs until someone cut the music and you raced to grab a seat? It was fun, right? Got your competitive juices flowing? Well that was the inspiration for the most recent drill I created for my team’s practice to work on ball control as well as their competitive nature.
Cue the music. No seriously, you’re going to need to bring in speakers and music for this one (I personally have Spotify Premium and downloaded a few songs before practice for this purpose, but you could always use Pandora or music from Amazon Music). As always, make sure it is appropriate and that you wouldn’t be embarrassed if a parent or administrator walked into your practice.
This drill focuses on both ball control and competitiveness. We can always use more ball control drills, and let’s face it, not all volleyball players are the most competitive. This is my attempt to “teach competitiveness” to a few of my girls.
Here’s how you setup the drill:
1. Split your team into two sides. It could be 4 vs 4, 5 vs 5, 6 vs 6… It could even be 4 vs 5 if necessary. I recommend keeping it at a minimum of 4 on a side though, as it is hard to cover the whole court with only 3 players.
2. Ask your girls if they know what musical chairs is. The answer will *hopefully* be yes and you’ll save yourself a little time. Tell them that they will be playing cooperatively while the music is playing, just like how they walk nicely around the chairs when the music is on
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3. Once you turn off the music, however, it’s time to get serious! Play switches from cooperative to competitive. Instead of trying to keep the ball alive at all costs, you’re trying to get a kill. Just like they tried to steal the chair from Olivia at their 5th birthday party as a kid.
4. Do a few practice runs and make sure they understand the concept. Once they’ve got it down, explain the scoring.
5. Each side starts at 15 points. If a team messes up the rally while it is cooperative (lets the ball drop, hits out, hits too short for the other team to reach it), they lose a point. If a team wins the rally while it is competitive (gets a kill, lets the other team’s ball go out), they gain a point. Play is to 25. I chose this scoring method in order to penalize dropped balls or poorly placed balls during cooperative play, and to reward aggressive play during the competitive portion.
If your team is struggling to move past even 16 or 17 points (wins rallies, but loses points during cooperative play), you can either add pressure by having some sort of punishment in place for every point they are below 25, or you can set a time limit and have the side which is ahead be deemed the winner.
This drill is probably better for older or more advanced teams who are able to control the ball better, but could work with younger players if 5 or 6 girls are on each side.
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If your team consistently is losing points more than gaining them, stop the music faster so they switch into the “point gaining” portion of the game. But if you can, let it go a little longer to challenge them to keep the ball up. Encourage swinging as a third contact, not sending a freeball, which defeats the purpose of the drill.
If you do not have a speaker or aren’t in a building where you can play music, using a whistle to signify switching from cooperative to competitive can work too.
Overall, your girls should have a good time during this drill and they will start to get more comfortable switching into “competitive mode.” I hope you enjoy, let me know how it goes for you if you run this drill at your practice!