According to Coach Karch Kiraly, (U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team Head Coach) the most important skill in volleyball is to learn to read the ball.
This is one of those answers which is simple in theory, but very, very challenging in practice. You can’t just TELL players to read the ball. Heck, half of them probably wouldn’t even know what you meant (and of course, they’d just nod their head and go with it until you called them out).
In order to play volleyball well, you need to anticipate where the ball will go. This has recently become a point of pride for coaches who yell at their teams for diving (they wouldn’t need to dive if they read the ball correctly). Which… they’re not wrong! But we need to make sure we teach players to read and anticipate before we expect them to eliminate any dives or rolls.
This drill teaches players how to read the hitter through simple, repetitive plays that draw attention to movement patterns, helping players learn faster. Read More
OK, I’m making BIG claims for this drill, but I’m ready to back those claims up!
See, I’m really big on PROGRESSIONS. Progressions start simple, add small pieces of information, and ultimately lead to BIG gains.
The best part about this drill I’m about to share with you is that it will work for ANY age group (even the littles who can’t get their fingers above the net) and your players will LOVE it.
This is also a great volleyball camp drill, for those reasons and more. Read More
If there’s one volleyball drill that just about EVERY volleyball player will play throughout their career, it’s Queen of the Court (or King of the Court/Monarch of the Court depending on who you’re coaching).
Queen of the court is a top volleyball drill because it…
is good as a warm-up drill or to end practice with
can be played with as few as 8 players, and up to 16 (or more) per court
If this sounds like a must-have for your coaching binder, I’d have to agree with you. Not only is this a good volleyball drill for practice, you can use it at open gyms and volleyball camps! Read More
Once we start to get towards the middle/end of the season, it can feel like you’ve been running the same drills over and over again!
Add a fresh new drill to the end of your practice! This is one of my FAVORITE drills to end practice with, because it is high intensity, competitive, fast moving, and mentally challenging for the players.
This drill works best for 6 vs 6 situations (either against your own team or with a similar team you would normally scrimmage against), but can be modified to 5 vs 5 if needed. Read More
You’ve put in HOURS of practice, have gone over every rotation at least two dozen times, and think you’ve worked out the best lineup for your first tournament.
You make sure everyone knows where to go, when to be there, and what is (and isn’t!) allowed in the facility.
Everyone gets to the court relatively on time, and the girls start passing the ball around until it’s time to get started. And suddenly you realize… You don’t have a warmup planned.
This warm-up gets everyone moving and working primarily on the skills they’ll need in their main position, and I’ve liked how well it has worked with a few of the teams I’ve coached in the past. Read More
Although I’m big on creating drills to suit my team and their specific needs each season, there’s a classic drill that I always make time for!
Running a half-court round robin with your team is a simple way to let your players lighten up a little and enjoy competing against one another. Best of all, it’s pretty simple! Read More
You know when those guys on horses are charging at each other with those big sticks and try to knock the other one off the horse first? Well, we do that in volleyball too!
Of course, there are no horses involved, and we really shouldn’t be making contact with the other player. Jousting in volleyball is when a ball is in that weird gray zone of “is it coming over the net, is it not?”
Ideally in his situation, your player will jump up to hit/block the ball instead of just stand there are and watch it drop (even if it’s on the other side of the net! We still want to be ready).
And I pity the fool who stands and watches while the opposing team goes up to smack it, almost certainly winning the point unchallenged.
Let’s breakdown a joust, shall we? Read More
Normally I’m all for keeping drill names short and sweet, but sometimes a long descriptive name helps players remember a drill better (and it makes me laugh hearing them repeat it).
But that’s not WHY I like 1 touch, 2 touch, 3 touch, Columbus (sort of a “left foot, left foot, left foot, right” ring to it, no?). I like this drill because it gets my players MOVING, and it helps players who are new to the concept of “pass-set-hit” transition from “bump ball.”
For you new coaches, bump ball is an affectionate name for teams who pass the ball back and forth over the net without trying to do anything other than pass it back over. This is NOT what we want! We want to (despite losses and frustration with the learning process) teach our teams to use all three hits as early as they can successfully do so. Read More
For many of you, the middle of the season is upon on (or fast approaching), and with that, boredom can start to set in. The number of new drills and concepts which you’re teaching your team has probably dropped, and not only is your team feeling a lack of fresh energy, but you’re feeling it too!
This part of the season is my least and most favorite. When the monotony kicks in, it can feel like there’s nothing you can do! BUT! When you finally think of a fresh take on a drill or come to practice set on pepping things up, that’s when the magic happens. Read More
Last night I had practice and thought it went.... great! Going into it though, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. See, I had run a practice with this team last week, and my plan didn't go as I expected. I was expecting a group of players who didn't know each other very well, and that was NOT what I got. Here's what caught me off guard:
All loud and friendly (except two quiet players),
Already established friend group (again, except for the two),
Fundamental skills were decent, but in a game setting, everything went out the window, and
A lack of understanding of how to use all three hits. It was like watching tennis!
I think this is something you'll see in a school setting more often than a club setting, just because in a school they all see each other every day, and in club, they usually come from different schools. Read More
Think back to the mid/late 2000’s, when Survivor was the biggest TV show out there (at least, it dominated the screen in our house every Thursday night)! Essentially, there was a large group of people who had to face challenges and, one by one, they were voted off. There were plenty of twists and turns along the way, and tons of drama.
OK, using those concepts, I’m going to teach you a volleyball game using these same principles! (Except the drama part… I’d say there’s humor, but no drama lol). Read More
Summer is officially underway and I've just finished up the second week of my volleyball club's camps! This last week we had a pretty young group (3rd through 6th grade) and I saw a LOT of hitting errors over and over again. There are a few simple solutions to some of the most common errors, and I wanted to share them with you! Read More
Hey coaches! I’ve been advertising this drill a ton because not ONLY did I make a video describing the different ways to set it up, I also made a printable version for you! This drill, Hitting Lines vs. Defense, is one of the most versatile drills I’ve covered for you so far. The setup is easy and the concepts are pretty basic, but it’s SO useful! Just because it’s not complicated doesn’t mean it’s not for high-level teams either. Teams at all skill levels can use this drill and it will benefit them. Want the short version? Read More
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. Read More
While I love creating my own drills, sometimes you just need to peruse the internet and find some new inspiration. Two weeks ago I was looking for high-intensity drills and found “Vegas.” While the title was intriguing, it didn’t really explain what the drill focused on. Strictly out of curiosity, I watched.
My initial reaction was that it looked fun, but was nothing too special. It had competitive elements to it that was something I felt my girls needed a big dose of, so I added it to our practice plan with 20 minutes dedicated to learning and finishing the drill. Read More
Is your team struggling to communicate, cover, or celebrate? Read how I run the 3 C's Drill (presented by Judy Green, video in article) and try it out for yourself! It seriously impacted my girls and we have been a different team ever since! Read More
The season has started! This means two things. 1) We're all scrambling to figure out what our teams' strengths and weaknesses are, and 2) I will have a lot of practice plans that I'll share with you! The beginning of the year is the best time to review basics with your team (although they should constantly be enforced throughout the season).
I recommend ALWAYS beginning with passing and serving, as these are the two most fundamental skills one needs to play volleyball. This plan is for our second practice of the year, so we've progressed to setting and attacking. Read More
Often times, the motivation for a practice plan will come from major weaknesses witnessed during a match or even over the course of a tournament. This practice plan, practicing jousting and tip coverage, came after a particularly frustrating match during which my team lost to a team who lacked the power to send us fast-paced hits, yet bested our defenses via wimpy tips. The entire match.
Now, if you read more of my articles and practice plans, you'll see that I am actually a fan of a well-placed and well-timed tip. And if that has to be your main offense to defeat a team, then so be it. However, when you know the opponent is not doing this on purpose, it can be infuriating to watch ball after ball drop in the middle of the court. Read More
Hey everyone, I decided I'm going to feature regular practice plans for you all, so if you ever need to get to the gym ASAP but didn't have time to sit down and plan out your practice, I've got your back! I'll be adding more regularly, so make sure to check out Get The Pancake often! This practice plan will focus on introducing quick sets to your team, and defending against quick attacks. Read More
This volleyball drill gets your players moving and warmed up, going all out, and practicing actual game-like movements.
Traditional hitting lines just don't cut it anymore. If you're using the old version, you are practicing how to hit from a perfect toss. How often does that happen during a game? Well, zero. Your setter never gets a nice high toss, and they can NEVER complain about a toss and refuse to set it.
This drill advances your team much quicker than traditional hitting lines for two reasons. Read More