Coaching Girls Volleyball 101 – Practices and Drills
Over the weekend I spent 10 hours in a volleyball clinic - a 3 hour session for coaches, and two 3.5 hour sessions for players (I went to the two sessions for 7th grade through High School players). I decided I would do a brain dump of all the things I remember – both for myself and for any other coaches who might benefit. This information is free – take it for what it’s worth.
This post is about designing Practices and Drills.
- Every Practice should have an over all purpose. There are a couple of ways a coach can choose what to practice that day. The first is to rotate practices. For our 7th graders, I am going to break out each practice by the major skills (forearm passing, overhead passing, hitting, serving, and defense). The other way to choose a focus for the practice is by observing the team and seeing where they have weaknesses.
- Teach/Emphasize no more than 3 things a day. These will usually be keys within the various skills. For instance, hitting involves footwork, arm position, hitting technique, etc. Although the girls will complete the entire hit during a drill, maybe you only emphasize their footwork that day and don’t try to coach for hitting technique.
- Identify the purpose of each drill. Each drill should be designed to work on something specific – and it should be communicated to the players.
- Figure out whether you want a drill to be individual, grouped (more than one player but less than six), or team (all six players on a side). Working each of these three aspects during drills is important.
- Have a way to measure the drill. What is a good way to track if they are meeting the objectives of the drill? How will the drill end? The players will tend to stay more focused if they know someone is keeping track or they can “win”. The measurement doesn’t have to be “scoring” in the traditional sense of volleyball- it could be number of times hit without hitting the floor, score a point for passing to the setter off of serve, or setting to a target. There are many ways to measure the success of a drill.
- Measure in your team’s emotional currency. If you have a highly competitive group of secure players, then have them keep score against each other with a clear winner and loser. If they are not as motivated by individual competition, then have a team goal that ends the drill. Each team will be different and the measurements have to work for your team.
- Have a lot of opportunities for contact. This doesn’t mean only touching the ball – any movement counts. The players should be doing something about every 8 seconds (even if it’s just moving forward in a line awaiting their turn).
- Have opportunity for feedback. Let the players know when they are doing it well. State everything in a positive manner – instead of telling them what they did wrong, tell them what they should do next time.
- Have a really cool name. Nothing captures people’s imagination like a really cool name for the drills. It also picks up the pace of practice, because the players will know what to do when they hear you call out a particular drill.