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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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 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! Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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! Read More
“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. Read More
When players are learning to how serve a volleyball, their main focus is usually this…
JUST GET IT OVER!
But there’s more to it than that!
We can split the court into six main zones, which are simple to identify and teach. The most confusing part is remembering their order! Read More
If you are a new volleyball coach, you’re in for a treat! Whether you’re getting ready for your first volleyball practice or are in the middle of your first season, I’ve got a fun and easy volleyball drill which your team will LOVE!
OK, so…. Let’s just get this out of the way real quick...
Yes: The drill really IS named “Dead Fish.” Read More
Although I’m big on creating drills to suit my team and their specific needs each season, there’s a classic drill that I always make time for!
Running a half-court round robin with your team is a simple way to let your players lighten up a little and enjoy competing against one another. Best of all, it’s pretty simple! Read More
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. Read More
Passing is a skill which is unique to volleyball. There is no other sport where you run after a ball and use your forearms to pop the ball up in the air! There’s no catching, throwing, or (usually) kicking here, and that makes the concept of passing the ball entirely new to first time volleyball players.
Even players with a few seasons under their belt can struggle to pass to target consistently. That’s why I’m going to give you 4 tips to use in practice to reduce the number of shanked balls (you know, those ones that go flying backwards into the the stands) and improve your team’s overall passing skill. Read More
There are certain drills you run at practice throughout the season because they get your team moving, cheering, and they’re relatively easy and fun…
This is not one of those drills.
So, why would you want to read more? Because! This is a drill you only need to do ONCE and you’ll have a new team. This is a drill that inspires those *click* moments that I live for as a coach.
This drill is particularly effective at teaching young setters (think 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade) how to set along the net, instead of to the hitters. Read More
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. Read More
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). Read More
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. Read More
Coaching volleyball is about MORE than just running the best drills at practice! If this is your first time coaching volleyball, start here!
When you step on the court, you’re surrounded by young athletes with TONS of potential who are ready to listen to every word you have to say. Over the course of a season you share a ton of laughs, encourage them to dip deep and overcome challenges, and watch them grow in a sport you both love. Read More
How many times have you heard these instructions at a match or tournament… “Talk!” “Call the ball!” “Communicate!”
Once in a while, this is fine. But when communication seems to be a nagging issue, there’s likely a root cause that you need to address.
Let's discuss how to improve communication for your volleyball team, shall we?