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.
After this match? You can bet jousting and tip coverage were my main focus at our very next practice. My advice? Use this practice plan BEFORE you realize you need it!
Time: 2-hour practice
Age levels: Advanced 8th grade, 9th - 12th grade
Skills targeted: Jousting and tip coverage
Arrive at gym: 5:40pm
Set-up net (if necessary), sweep floors, check balls for air.
Girls arrive and get ready, let them play tip and chip, talk to parents.
Review practice plan with assistant coach.
Start time: 6:00pm
Blow whistle, call everyone in. Explain that tonight's practice will focus on Jousting and Tip Coverage.
Begin warm-ups. 3 laps around court, dynamic stretching, and 5 sets of sprints.
Warm-up drill: 6:20pm
Skill Demonstration: 6:35pm
Give jousting description. Use assistant coach or player to demonstrate skill. Typically, the last person to touch the ball will win the joust, so encourage keeping contact with the ball as long as possible. Instruct players to direct the ball away from opposing blocker and into the court by using wrists and fingers to redirect ball.
First Skill Practice: 6:40pm
Split team into groups of three, filling in as needed. Have each group cluster in one of the three front zones, with two players across from each other while both standing at the net. The third person will be tossing for the first round of practice, a little over 5 minutes each.
The tosser will toss the ball up between the two at the net, aiming to get the ball as close to the middle as possible. This will help your blockers work on their timing and practice jousting repeatedly instead of waiting for game-like situations to practice.
Since the girls will be trying to push the ball to the side during their joust, make sure all of the girls are aware that balls may roll into their space. Safety is important here, so make sure your girls know to call "ball!" if the ball is rolling towards people, and for everyone else to stop what they're doing if it rolls towards them.
READ MORE: Fix a Volleyball Serve in 4 Steps
To better match up your girls, have your middles, outside hitters and opposite hitters pair up. For the shorties? Personally instruct them on soft blocks and have them go through the drill regardless.
Old skill review: 7:00pm
Review defensive system and highlight coverage zones for tips.
Old Skill Practice: 7:10pm
Split team into two lineups, excluding middle backs. Have middle backs practice either left or right back, depending on your needs. You will use a front row setter. Ideally you will have 5 vs 5, so jump in if you need to. Begin play from a freeball toss across the net. You are basically running the tip and chip drill, though you are still using the full court.
Only allow your hitters to tip. This will force tip coverage, and likely spur more jousting than is typical since a block will be more likely. Interrupt play minimally to correct mistakes, but let players determine corrections themselves and on the fly so they learn to read tips. Play for 10 minutes, then mix up rotations and play for 10 more minutes.
Implement serving, and play with the purpose of testing your tip coverage. Use normal lineups with a middle back so your players will learn to read a tip versus a full swing. Keep score, awarding points as normal, except give two points for a kill from a tip. This again will encourage aggressive defense against tips, spur jousts, and get your offence to tip more. Play a full game to 25.
3 slow laps and give details on next practice or match during stretching.
Pancakers: Let me know what you think about this practice plan in the comments! Give it a shot and report back! How do you teach your team to joust?