Front Row Progressions: Train Transitioning, Hitting, Blocking, and Setting in 20 Minutes


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.


  • Three players in front row at the 10’ on the “Hitting” side

  • Three players in front row at the net on the “Blocking” side

  • Take additional players and have them get into lines behind the blockers (with space between them so they don’t get stepped on!)

  • A coach stands in the setting zone between the middle and right side hitters on the hitting side. Place a ball cart on the blocking side directly across the net from the coach.

A setter will be added later!


Progression 1:

2-3 minutes, or until everyone has hit 3-4 times/understands the rotations.

  • The coach will toss the “set” to the outside hitter, middle blocker, and right side in turn. Want to teach communication? ONLY toss to a player if they are calling for the ball.

  • If the outside hitter is hitting, the blocker opposite them will attempt to block the hit. For this drill, we will not have the middle move to assist in any blocks. (additionally, if the middle hits, the middle blocks, and if right side hits, the outside blocker blocks).

  • Once an ATTEMPT to hit the ball has been made, that hitter will shag their ball, PLACE the ball in the ball cart (no throwing! safety hazard!) and get into a blocking line.

  • The blocker opposite the hitter will then come under the net and become the next hitter in that position.

  • The player in line behind the blocker steps up to block the now empty blocking zone.

  • Coach tosses to a new hitter, and the cycle repeats.

Progression 2:

3-4 minutes, up to 5 if you need to spend more time on transition footwork.

  • Before starting Progression 2, the coach will demonstrate the proper footwork to transition off the net from blocking to ready-to-hit. Depending on the age group and the approach you’re teaching, this may vary. Classic teaching is to use the “step-cross-hop” method, but if you are going to teach a 4-step approach (which I now recommend for every age) it will be more of a “step-cross-step-rock” for OH and middle, or “step-cross-step-step-rock” for right-handed right side hitters. It’s confusing, that’ll be another article/video soon!)

  • Bring the hitting lines up to the net (instead of at the 10’ line) with hands up as if they were ready to block.

  • Coach will slap the ball (indicating the ball has been sent over) and the players will transition off the net, call for the set, and hit if the set comes to them.

  • Blockers will continue to block as they have been, and the rotations are the same.

Progression 3:

5-6 minutes to allow a rhythm, use 1-2 setters.

  • Next move the coach and the ball cart back to the middle of the court and add a setter. I recommend PICKING a setter based on ability rather than asking for volunteers so the drill progresses well.

  • Have the setter start in the right back base position (5’-6’ in and a foot or two behind the 10’ line).

  • Slap the ball indicating the need for everyone to transition (front row drops back using footwork) and the setter will run to the setting zone.

  • Toss a ball slightly in front of the setter and have them set a hitter who is calling for the set.

  • Again, rotate as you did in the previous progression, but leave the setter until 3 minutes in and switch (if necessary).

Progression 4:

About 10 minutes.

  • Move the coach and the ball cart to the blockers side.

  • Switch setters if wanted/necessary.

  • Coach will slap the ball to indicate a freeball coming over.

  • Players transition.

  • Coach tosses to one of the hitters, who must pass the ball to the setter.

  • The setter should then set back to the hitter who passed the ball (not always ideal to train, but it helps the play run smoothly and it DOES happen in games so why not practice it).

  • The hitter will hit, and rotations continue as they have for the entire drill.

  • I’ve found players can do this progression for about 10-15 minutes before they lose interest. I suggest cutting it off while it’s still fun instead of letting it run too long.

And there you have it! You will be amazed at how easy it seems for your players to block and transition after this drill!


  • Always make sure your blockers are calling where the ball is being set to. This will get them in the habit of talking on defense, and with practice, they will start to learn to read the setter for higher volleyball IQ.

  • If hitters are not calling the ball, do not toss or set to them. And just because their mouth is moving doesn’t count! The quiet ones need to learn to be louder, the purpose is so we can HEAR them.

  • I also withhold sets if they are not doing their transition footwork properly. I don’t care if someone feels stupid and I have to stop the drill while they figure it out. Peer pressure is a great teacher and I’m not afraid to use it!

  • Make sure everyone on the blocking side is PAYING ATTENTION! They are essentially sitting ducks if they’re talking to each other or just plain not looking. They WILL get hit in the head, and they COULD get a concussion/bloody nose/etc. If your team has a couple of hard hitters, consider switching up how you setup your blocker lines so they’re out of harm’s way.

  • As always, feel free to make adjustments :) I encourage you to make modifications and test out different ways to run this drill, it will make you a better coach!