Practice is in one hour, and you still haven’t gotten off work. You’re exhausted, but it’s only Tuesday. Too many things came up throughout the day, which meant you couldn’t take the time during lunch to plan out volleyball practice for tonight.
You make it to practice on time, but you’re scrambling to write down a few drills in order to just LOOK prepared. All of the drills are drills you’ve done before, and there’s no real rhyme or reason to any of your plan other than you know you at least need to work on serving for a while, and some passing would be good too.
Despite my best efforts, this exact scenario happened to me on a few occasions (especially in my first year of coaching volleyball), and I’m guess it has happened to you too. How do we stop the madness? Make a habit of practice planning.
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The night before practice, sit down in a quiet area and focus. Focus on what areas your team needs to work on and search for drills or design drills based on what needs improvement. I have found the best practices come from a layout similar to this:
Dynamic stretching/warm-ups: 15-20 minutes
New skill-specific instruction: 5 minutes
New skill-related drill: 15 minutes
New skill-related game: 15-20 minutes
Old skill-related drill: 15-20 minutes
Old skill/new skill-related game: 15-20 minutes
Scrimmage: 20 minutes
Cool down: 10 minutes
Depending on your timeline for practice you can add or subtract times or complete sections. I also like to plan on ending about 10 minutes before the end of practice so that my girls can leave on time.
This order works because you are introducing new concepts and skills early in practice when their minds are fresh, and then you build on the learning concept through a game, helping them practice using the new skill during play.
By then revisiting an old skill, you are helping them be more confident in their performance during practice, before introducing a new game which focuses on both skills learned for the day.
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Ending with a scrimmage is always a great way to wrap up practice. The girls will have new skills that they are working on, and parent’s and families will usually trickle in towards the end. This allows them to watch their daughter as she is learning new skills and actually playing volleyball.
Pancakers: Certain drills work better with one another when planning practice in this manner. Serving and passing, setting and attacking: these both are great examples of classic skill combinations. What skills do you like to combine?