Express Yourself - Motivating Your Players Through Gestures

Y’all know by now that I promote communicating with your players in a positive manner whenever possible.

Well… now I’ve got (more) evidence to back up my thinking!

While hunting down research I sited in Episode 23 of the Get The Pancake Podcast, I came across another study that seemed worth reading! Of course after I read the paper, I realized this information NEEDED to be shared!

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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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Teach “The Turn” - Getting Your Setter To Square Up To Their Hitters

It’s currently the beginning of the school season, which means one thing is certain: We’ve all got a LOT of work to do.

Players will always be growing and developing, and even us coaches aren’t as perfect as we’d like to believe. But there’s something I’ve seen a lot of this particular season and I want to help you see it and overcome this lazy play with your own teams.

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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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Volleyball Camp Warm-Up Game: Sharks and Minnows

Ahhh, the classic “Sharks and Minnows” game.

If you went to volleyball camps as a child, you probably played this game at least once.

But the hard thing about playing games as a kid, is that you don’t always remember them as an adult!

Let me give you a quick refresher on this classic warm-up game as you start to prepare for summer volleyball camps.

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Why I Recommend Beach Volleyball For Faster Skill Development

Summer is almost here, and this is ALWAYS the time of year when I am asked what players should do to prepare for school volleyball tryouts.

There are plenty of options out there….

  • Summer camps

  • Private lessons

  • Skill clinics

  • Open gyms

While all of these will likely improve a player’s skill level, physical fitness, coordination, and mental understanding of the game, there’s one big opportunity that many families tend to overlook: beach volleyball.

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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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Coaching Anxious Players: 5 Steps to Confident ATHLETES

The hesitation. The apprehension. The questions. The tears.

These are all fairly NEW to me as a coach, despite beginning my coaching career over a decade ago.

Nearly all players can handle being told how to correct their form without bursting into tears and making you feel like a horrible person.

But there’s a shift happening. I’m not entirely sure of the reason WHY (though I have some guesses), but once I started making adjustments to my coaching style, I was able to see players settle into the comfort of learning and actually contribute to their team.

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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.

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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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Keeping and Understanding Volleyball Stats: The 5 (ish) Basics

Volleyball stats offer a (mostly) objective look at player and team performance, and can be vital to helping determine appropriate areas of focus for future training, determining optimal rotations, and providing a broad look at team performance overall.

Looking at individual stats can help players understand their strengths and weaknesses, analyze match performance, and in some instances, even help them get recruited.

Although stats SEEM intimidating… they don’t have to be! Coaches and parents new to volleyball should not be intimidated by the overwhelming spreadsheets, computations, and volleyball jargon common when discussing volleyball stats.

I’m going to break down some of the more basic statistics for you, so you can feel more confident coaching volleyball, watching volleyball, and talking 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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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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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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Get Your Team To Bounce Back From A Bad Volleyball Tournament or Match

Let’s face it…. Playing poorly all day, whether it’s an important match or a big tournament weekend, takes its toll on even the most confident coaches and players.

It’s no fun to watch a meltdown happen right in front of your eyes.

Although you may not be happy with how your team performed, there are a couple of things you can do to get your team back on track.

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Using Visualization to Combat Tough Game Situations

No matter what our team’s normal skill level is, sometimes there are just games (or even full days!) where our athletes are just…. off.

It is probably worthwhile for you to dig into those reasons in an attempt to stop this situation from happening in the future. However, since it is usually a large, variable combination of things that may or may not have a possible solution, today I want to talk about what to do after you recognize this in your team!

I want to talk about visualization in volleyball, especially because it helped me when I was playing and still helps to this day. It’s likely that not EVERYONE will buy-in… And that’s ok!

But I want to make sure your athletes have the right tools in their toolkit to pull themselves out of a slump if possible.

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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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