Passing With A Focus: Facing The Hitter

Coaches of young or new volleyball players might benefit from review this passing concept with their team: Face the hitter, angle your platform to target.

Too often this is something that we as coaches tend to overlook. Between getting them to not bend their elbows when they pass, making sure they’re standing in the right place, or sometimes even just paying attention at practice, it can be easy to forget about small things.

In this case, it’s a small thing that makes a HUGE difference.

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Teach Defense To Your Team

Think back to the first time you were learning a new position. One of the most challenging aspects of learning this new position was probably where to go for defense. Not only do you need to know WHERE to go, you need to learn WHEN to go and how much area you cover!

Players can easily get overwhelmed in this stage of their development, but it doesn’t need to be frustrating! By using this quick and easy drill, I’ve taught players as young as 6th grade how to transition into defense.

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Easy Drill To Teach Your Passers To Read The Hitter

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.

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Volleyball Drill Classics: The Butterfly Drill

In today’s drill, I’m going to share the first “Butterfly Drill” I learned as a player, and explain how you can change it using variations (my favorite thing to do).

The butterfly drill is named after the shape of the action. That one took me a long time to figure out, but it is now glaringly obvious.

Essentially, butterfly drills are meant to keep the action rolling, with player-initiated contacts, constant movement, high energy, and LOTS of running (so fyi, this is a great conditioning drill that still incorporates a lot of volleyball).

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Volleyball Drill Classics: Queen of The Court

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 fast-paced

  • is FUN

  • is competitive

  • 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!

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Freeball/Downball Drill: A Fast-Paced Scrimmage Alternative to End Practice

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.

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4-Minute Team Warmup Idea For Volleyball Tournaments

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.

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Setter Out: A Drill for Setter/Libero Practice

One of the worst feelings as a coach is when you watch your team struggle with something you FORGOT TO TEACH THEM.

“Setter out” is one of those things. Most coaches think they can just say “Setter out!” and then their players will get it. While the concept is simple, players will need to practice this skill before they fully understand what you mean.

The best part is… this is one of those * CLICK * skills that, once players understand, they’ll be unstoppable!

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Feel The Burn: The Passing Drill That Keeps Players LOW

“Stay low!” “You’re standing up!” “Use your legs!” “Shrug your shoulders!” “Get down!”

You know you’ve said one (or all!) of these phrases before. But if you find yourself saying it over, and over, and over again, maybe verbal feedback isn’t working?

That’s why I like to run the drill “Feel the Burn!” Players get immediate feedback that signals they are standing while passing the ball AS IT HAPPENS.

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How To Create Your Own Volleyball Drill

If I had to name my top three favorite aspects of coaching volleyball, it would be:

1) Helping young players develop into volleyball athletes with confidence and self esteem;

2) Constantly being challenged to out-strategize our opponents; and

3) Creating new volleyball drills.

I guess number three, creating new drills, is BECAUSE of my top two. I like to get creative at practice and create drills specific to my team’s age, level of play, potential, strengths, and weaknesses.

There’s an ART to creating a good volleyball drill!

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Under Pressure: Passing Challenge Drill To Identify Top Passers

Warning: This drill could result in hurt feelings.

Now, in volleyball, most of our drills should focus on building teamwork and team chemistry. I don’t believe there are any other team sports quite like volleyball, and you need buy-in from every single player in order to be successful.

That being said, sometimes you need players to face reality.

Yes, we all support one another, and yes, we’ll shake off mistakes as they come. But at the end of the day, there are players on your team who are better at hitting, serving, passing, etc.

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Simple Passing Drill To Get Your Players Moving!

One of the biggest mistakes I see new coaches make is that they focus on teaching a skill in a controlled environment, but unfortunately this doesn’t translate well to game scenarios.

In a match, you’ll never have someone toss the ball to you, exactly where you’re expecting it, over and over again. In an effort to get my players used to MOVING and EXPECTING to move to the ball, I came up with this simple passing progression drill. It’s a perfect “beginning of the season” drill and is great as a skill check-up drill later in the season as well.

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Run a Half-Court Round Robin Tournament at Your Next Volleyball Practice

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!

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1 Touch - 2 Touch- 3 Touch - Columbus

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.

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Stop The Shanks! 4 Passing Tips To Reduce Errors for Beginner Volleyball Players

Passing is a skill which is unique to volleyball. There is no other sport where you run after a ball and use your forearms to pop the ball up in the air! There’s no catching, throwing, or (usually) kicking here, and that makes the concept of passing the ball entirely new to first time volleyball players. 

Even players with a few seasons under their belt can struggle to pass to target consistently. That’s why I’m going to give you 4 tips to use in practice to reduce the number of shanked balls (you know, those ones that go flying backwards into the the stands) and improve your team’s overall passing skill.

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Pre-Made Practice Plan: Serve Receive and Using Three Hits

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. 

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“Hitting Survivor” Tricks Your Players Into Being Better Hitters and Passers!

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).

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High Rep Serve Receive Drill

How many times have you gotten STUCK in a bad serve receive rotation? Either one of your players is having an off-day, or the server on the other team is just picking you apart. No matter what the reason, it stinks to be stuck there. Waiting, praying that the other team will just miss their serve and let you move on! Instead of trying the tactic of "wait and see," switch to being proactive!

This high rep serve receive drill will help your team understand the options they have when they can't get out of a certain serve receive rotation. Even better, if you coach them through it correctly, they'll often times make the change before you even realize it's time to switch things up!

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Easy Passing Drill: Shuttle Passing

If you're looking for an easy passing drill you can run at your next volleyball practice, try shuttle passing! 

Shuttle passing is great for teams of all ages, and can be altered to change the level of difficulty for your team in particular! I've run this drill with 2nd and 3rd graders, and with high school teams as well. Once you understand the basic concept, you'll be able to make adjustments to the drill, making it a great ball control warm-up for your team!

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Hitting Lines vs. Defense | Drill Print-Out and Video Description!

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?

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