“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).

Equipment Needed:

A ball cart for the coach to toss to the hitters.

A net.

That’s about it :)

Drill Setup:

To get this drill setup, all you need to do is have your players line up in a single file line at either outside, middle, or right front. Let’s start with outside.

You’ll stand in the right front area, with the ball cart next to you (on your side of the net).

Also simple, now on to running the drill!

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How The Drill Works:

The coach will toss to the player who is in the front of the line for an outside hit.

  • If the ball goes over and in, that player is safe and will get back in line after they shag their ball.

  • If the ball goes out or into the net, that players is BANISHED to the other side of the net.

Goal: Be the last one in line to hit., and WIN!

Aren’t there supposed to be twists and turns…? I’m glad you asked!

The players who have been banished to the opposite side of the net have a chance to get back into the game!

There are a lot of ways to play this, but my favorite is that if a player on the opposite side of the net can pass it to themselves and catch the ball, they get to switch places with the player who hit. 

A couple of rules clarifications you’ll want to make ahead of time, because you’ll be asked when they come up:

  • There is no reaching over someone who passes it to catch their ball. I’ve played this way, and do not recommend it. 13-year-old girls are vicious!

  • If a player tips or passes the ball over, it doesn’t count as a successful hit.

  • Only the coach can call a redo for a bad toss. I would do this sparingly.

  • If a player passes a ball which is going out and manages to catch it, then they still switch with the hitter.

  • If a player TRIES to pass a ball which is going out, and fails to catch it, the hitter is still safe.

  • The last person in line must PROVE IT! AKA, they have to hit one last ball over and in to win.

  • If the last person misses, the switch with the 2nd to last person who was in line.

OK, it’s a lot of rules, but I’ve never NOT had fun running this game. It’s pretty easy once the ground rules are established!

This can take anywhere from 2 minutes up to about 7 or 8 minutes, but it shouldn’t last much longer than that. Because of this, I like to do three rounds: One with players hitting from outside, middle and right side.


If you have younger players, you could start out by having them JUST catch the ball. I’m all for having them pass though, because I often think we don’t challenge the little ones enough. 

You could also allow tips or roll shots only. This could really encourage deception in your hitters.

Include a setter. This will make it more game-like and give your setter more reps.

Warning: Please make it a point to tell your players to pay attention. If they’re standing on the court looking across the gym, they can (and probably will!) get hit in the head. Or gut. Really anywhere, and it won’t feel good. Kinda ruins the fun, too.

ALSO, because I am a safety freak, make sure that the entire side of the net with the passers on it is free of loose balls. These girls go all out to catch that ball, and you’d be surprised how far they run to catch it. Make sure there are no obstacles in their path.

"OK, this is clearly a fun game, but what does it even work on!? I feel guilty playing games at practice when there’s so much to learn." -What I imagine you saying to yourself right now.

WELL! Have no fear.

This drill is practically tricking your players into honing a few skills (my favorite way to teach).


Learn to look at the court first and assess areas to avoid, and ones to hit towards. They will work on their control and placement. This also introduces them to strategic hitting, and you can reference it in a match as a reminder.


They want to get back into the game! So they will assess each hitter who goes up and make a determination on where to best position themselves to increase their chances of passing it up. 

They also work on platform angles, because if they have to pass it so they can catch it, they need to change their angle.


All players get to be competitive in this drill, because there is no winner until the last ball hits the ground! There is also team bonding which occurs most of the time, and the players get to just have fun. 

That’s what it’s all about, right? :)