Defense Without A Middle Blocker

No matter what age you coach, you’ve probably seen it happen. Maybe it was in the middle of a long rally, or happened on the first attack. It could have been due to a deceptive jump set, or just a misread of your opponents attack.

What am I talking about?

When the middle goes up to block with the setter/middle, and the set goes somewhere else.

In other words… your defense becomes a lot less effective.

Run this drill to practice your team’s reaction to this common mistake.

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Teaching “Vision” Using Rock, Paper, Scissors

It’s easy to tell your players to look on the other side of the net… However, if they don’t learn WHEN to look, or if they don’t PRACTICE looking, they’ll likely struggle in this process, and likely give up because they just don’t get it.

The beauty of this drill is that you only need to run it once to teach the concept. So although it may go slow while they’re learning, it is very important to use 15 minutes of practice to run this drill.

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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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6 Small Group Volleyball Drills: Perfect for Holidays and Spring Break Practices!

Let’s just cut to the chase here. You won’t have perfect attendance at every practice.

And while that can be frustrating (especially for the well-prepared coach who planned practice down to the minute, with perfectly selected drills based on numbers), it’s a reality that we need to deal with.

Basketball practice. Spring Break. Family trips….

These all tend to make planning a high-quality practice a challenge.

UNLESS! You have these six drills in your back pocket.

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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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Volleyball Serving Strategies: Take Your Game To The Next Level

After your players have developed their serving accuracy, it’s time to put their skills to work!

Depending on your team’s age and skill level, there are plenty of serving strategies to consider. We’ll review a few basic strategies, plus consider a few more to get your brain muscles flexing!

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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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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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Switch Up Practice Tonight: Include Your Defense in Your Offense

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.

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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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Hit The Spot – Easy Serving Game To Learn Zones on the Volleyball Court

Learning how to serve to zones on a volleyball court can be intimidating for young players. In youth volleyball and middle school volleyball, often times the girls are working on just getting the ball over with lots of power! They might not feel ready to start working on serving to zones yet, but that is why we have fun games! To make it less intimidating!

Hit The Spot is a fun team drill, meaning there’s less overall pressure on the individual, but at the same time, there’s motivation to get their serve to the right spot. Players who have are ready to start serving to zones will enjoy this game as well, because they will often carry their team and feel a sense of pride in their serving.

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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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Serving Around the World Drill Diagram

Do you need a quick game to run at your next volleyball practice? This easy serving game will challenge your players to serve to zones without them even realizing that they're learning! Just print out this drill and save it for your next practice. Keep it in your binder as a reminder when you need inspiration! You can make this more competitive by splitting your players up into teams and having them try to go around faster than the other team, going in reverse order, or even giving them a certain order they need to serve in!

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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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Swing Set Drill - Team Setting Drill

One of the toughest skills I have a hard time creating drills for is setting. When you cover passing and hitting, these are skills that all players on your team will need to use. But setting? Yes, everyone needs to know HOW to set... But they will rarely set from the setting position and would therefore not benefit as much from constant setting drills. HOWEVER!

There is something to be learned from practicing this skill occasionally. I'm a big fan of training my players to play every position so that their understanding of the game is pushed beyond the confines of their position (wow, that was deep lol). This drill gives players a good understanding of what it take to be a setter, and will help them see the court from a new perspective. 

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Setter Development Drills for 7th and 8th Graders

Teaching middle school players how to set a volleyball can be challenging. Often times, there are only one or two players who show a natural inclination towards setting, and the rest are, more or less, hopeless. Or at least that’s how you feel at tryouts!

Training setters can be very time consuming, and when you are coaching by yourself it can be hard to justify spending practice time running a drill which is designed for only one or two players. But setters make or break a team! Spending time during practice working on their skills will only help you in the long run. Even better, you will likely see dramatic improvements right away.

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