A great drill to get players to chase down balls while improving their conditioning is the “Knee Pad Touch Drill” from University of Louisville head coach, Anne Kordes. The exercise can be completed with only one coach present in the gym, making it perfect for any team to use.
Drill Summary: A coach or player starts with the ball. Three players spread out in front of the player/coach with the ball. The ball is hit to one of the three players. If it’s one of the players on the outside, the middle player must run and touch the knee pad of the player that the ball was hit to. If the ball is hit to the middle player, both outside players must run and touch the knee pad of the middle player. Whoever the ball is hit to, they must successfully pass the ball back to the player/coach that started with the ball. Continue for a set amount of time (1-2 minutes).
Keys to the Drill:
1) Good passes.
2) Touch the knee pad – no cheating!
3) Stay in a good stance.
4) Call out names.
Mike Johnson, University of Notre Dame associate head coach and former Xavier University head coach, presents a defensive drill that works on digging and rallies. Your players will get a chance to defend against a full team for a set duration of time to see how many points they can get.
Drill Summary: Set up with a group of three defenders on one side of the net, and a full offense on the other. Begin the drill by initiating the ball off the serve or a toss. The “Neville’s side” (three defenders) is the side that scores points. They score one point for a dig and one point for a won rally. They lose a point if they suffer a hitting error, and they lose ALL their points if they don’t go for a ball.
Play for a set amount of time (90 seconds or 3 minutes). After that time, tally up how many points the Neville’s side one. After that, switch out players on the Neville’s side and see which group can get the most points. Meanwhile, after every rally, the side with a full offense can switch every player out except for their setter. Their focus is to kill balls and prevent the Neville’s side from scoring points.
Keys to the Drill:
1) Go after every ball.
2) Successful transition.
3) Good digs.
Two time national coach of the year at Creighton University, Kirsten Bernthal-Booth, runs through her “Over the Net Series” which focuses on ball control. During the drills in the series, players work on passing, setting, tips, attacks and going through offensive transition movements.
Drill Summary: Start with groups of four, with two people in each group on both sides of the net. The first progression is Pass-Set-Tip, in which groups practice doing that on both sides of the net within their groups. After each set of three hits, players on the same side of the net switch roles. The next progression is Pass-Set-Attack. The same rules apply as the first progression, except the ball has to be tipped from behind the 10′ line. After completing that, work on hitting roll shots for the attack instead of tips.
Finally, shrink to just two people in each group (one on each side of the net). Work on passing and setting to yourself (behind the 10′ line) before hitting a roll shot to the person on the other side of the net.
St. Louis University head women’s volleyball coach, Kent Miller, explains the necessary steps for executing a jump float serve. Among the most important aspects of the jump float serve are the toss, footwork, jump, body position and rhythm when hitting the ball.
Drill Summary: To execute a jump float serve, use a left-right-left run-up (if you’re right handed) while keeping your body position upright. Make sure the ball gets tossed both up and forward so you can run up and hit it. From there, make solid contact to float the ball onto the opponent’s side of the court. Developing a rhythm is important for this serve, so taking lots of reps during practice is recommended by Coach Miller.
A skill that can take your setters from good to great is adding the ability to use a jump set on the court. Bryan Bunn, North Carolina State head women’s volleyball coach, shows you a drill that focuses on perfecting the hands, footwork, body angle and other techniques that a good jump set requires.
Drill Summary: Setters work on setting eights and ones. For each, begin with a block and then relocate with your arms down before using them to jump and set the ball. Prior to jumping, the footwork should be left foot-right foot. It’s important to remain neutral on contact and square shoulders up to the target (or opposite the target). Have each setter hit three consecutive reps, then switch players.