Teaching “Vision” Using Rock, Paper, Scissors

“Rock, paper, scissors…”

“WAIT! Are we going on shoot? Or on scissors?”

“Let’s go on scissors.”

“Who goes on scissors??”

“Fine, on shoot.”

“Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!”

“Yes! Paper covers rock!”

“Noooo! Best two out of three?”

Sorry, had to get that out of my system. Rock, paper, scissors can be used to settle practically any disagreement, but did you know it can also help your setters and hitters improve their court vision?

I recommend this drill ESPECIALLY for the 7th-9th grade range (school or club), but you can of course run it with younger or older teams! 


You will line your team up into the classic “hitting lines” formation on one side of the court, with a coach (Coach A)  tossing to the setter, and another coach (Coach B) standing on the opposite side of the net, in between the right side and middle positions.

When the ball is tossed by Coach A, Coach B will hold up either rock, paper, or scissors in the air. The setter’s job is to first track where the “pass” (toss) is going, use her peripheral vision to see what Coach B is holding up, and then focus all of her attention back to setting the ball accurately and with good form to her intended hitter. Coach B will bring their hand down as soon as the setter makes contact with the ball. The setter will then call out what she thought she saw.

I don’t keep score for this, but rather go until my players seem comfortable with the concept and they are getting 90+% of their calls correct.

Once you run through this drill for 3-4 minutes with each of your setters, you can switch to hitters having to call out what they see. With hitters, Coach B will hold up rock, paper, or scissors after the contact is made by the setter, then bring their hand down as contact is made for the attack. You can also move Coach B around on the court when it is the hitter’s turn.

I like to run this for 5-8 minutes with all of my hitters getting a chance to swing (backrow included with hitting downballs or backrow attacks).


Players usually focus 100% on their own side of the net until the ball goes over and they transition into base defense. So a setter may see that her middle hitter got stuck at the net and know to set the outside… But what if, on the opposing side, she had seen that the outside hitter who pulled off to pass is still on the ground? Or just out of position? A back set might be a better option for the team!

Likewise with hitters. If players can start to get comfortable looking at their opponent’s side of the court before making a play, they’ll start to learn what decisions work best in which situations. In another example, your middle might go up to swing, but see that she is facing a triple block. Tipping might be a great option to get around them, instead of just going up and swinging without paying attention to their defensive tactics.


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.


Learning how to make strategic decisions will make the game more fun for many of your players, and will give them something they can continue to work on even without constant coaching.


This drill is… silly :) Especially with this age range, players may feel vulnerable to teasing or “looking stupid” if they “mess up,” but because it’s rock, paper, scissors, they’re able to laugh about it. I like to start with teaching my top setter, because they are usually the player who is mentally strong enough to work through the challenge, has the support of her teammates, and can demonstrate how it is done properly rather quickly. 

I’ll then move on to my second setter, then all of my hitters. It’s fun for the setters to later laugh at their hitters who were just teasing them because they don’t always realize how hard it is until it’s their turn!

Keep it light, keep it fun, and your team will not only learn a valuable skill, they’ll get to laugh a little (or a lot!) and have fun at practice.