The season is filled with opportunities to win and lose during tournament play. Most clubs organize some sort of scrimmage or intra-club competition early in the season to prepare their teams for the first tournament, so when it’s time to play to 25, their players stay calm and collected.  However, there are many ways to incorporate competition into your training on a regular basis so your athletes are used to competing hard and winning a close battle.

Here are 12 creative scoring ideas to encourage competitive practices:

#1 Wash Drills

Wash scoring terminology varies from coach to coach, and I define a “wash” as anytime the score goes to zero because of a negative product on the court. The most common use of washes for me is when a team fails to touch a ball before it hits the ground. Another common item that I “wash” the score with is when a team does not call mine. Be creative with this, and you will add that element of single item focus that is needed in all drills.

  • Small Points and Big Points – One way of incorporating “washes” within drills is to create drills with small points and big points. One of my favorite games is called 7 small 3 big. The goal of the game is to win 3 big points. Big points are won by getting 7 small points. These small points can be “washed” if a team does something that you have defined as a “wash.” The big points are safe from being “washed.” As the number of small points increases, and the team moves closer to a big point there is added pressure to stay focused on making sure not to get washed.
  • Multiple of 10 Washes – I have some drills in which points accumulate fairly quickly (games played to 50 points). When this happens, I like to wash points to the nearest multiple of 10. In other words, if the score is 27, and the team is washed, the new score would be 20.
#2 Virginia Math

This was named after one of our managers who came up with this scoring method. Every time the ball goes over the net we count the times it crosses. If at the end of the rally the ball goes over 7 times, then the winner of the rally gets 7 points. It is a nice thinking drill, and also adds pressure to the rally as it goes longer.

#3 Elimination

I usually use this concept in a 4v4 warm-up game (with Neville rotation, Multiple of 10 Washes, and Virginia Math – it seems like a lot but they catch on fairly quick). You can eliminate players for whatever item that you are working on, and I usually do this with talking. I have all players call “mine” (or “up” in some cases) every time they contact the ball. This means that even when they hit they have to call mine. If they do not, I eliminate them from the drill, and they are not allowed back into the rotation until a wash occurs or a team goes over a multiple of 10.

#4 Penalty Box

This is similar to elimination, but this time the entire team is punished within the drill. If an undesirable thing happens (no talking on the first contact), then the entire team is in the penalty box for a designated amount of penalty time. When this happens the team in the penalty box is no longer allowed to attack the ball over the net, they can only pass or set it over.

#5 Activation Scoring

Whenever working with new skills or reviewing old skills, it is important for the players to focus on technique. Activation scoring means that we designate one item that we are working on, and only allow points to be scored until that item has been “activated.” An example of this is a passing drill. I will have both teams free-ball the ball over until one side has activated the scoring by passing with the correct technique (I’ll shout “ACTIVATED” and hold up an arm) . I allow the other team to activate as well within this drill so both teams may be activated and fighting for a point. If neither side activates the scoring no points are awarded. Use different variations to come up with the desired results.

#6 Bonus Point Scoring

In order to encourage desired results, bonus points can be added to the game. I like to do this with setting the middle in transition. The harder the task (or the more uncomfortable the task), the more points you can assign.

#7 Roll The Dice Scoring

It always bothers me that teams start slow, and only pick it up when pushed. This scoring encourages teams to play hard all the time. Both teams will play to a different score (based on a roll of the dice). The catch is that neither team knows how much the other team is playing to.

#8 Golden Ticket

I borrowed this from Bond Shymansky when he was the Head Coach at Georgia Tech. When a team does a particular item (I always use a terminal block, or a cover on the block and win the rally), they receive a golden ticket. The winner of the golden ticket allows you to flip the score at any time (provided you possess the golden ticket). If team B wins the golden ticket while team A has it, the golden ticket goes into the bank. Use it or lose it. Use an old gift card, and do your best Willy Wonka impersonation as your athlete turns it in.

#9 Kill Streaks

Every consecutive point scored by a team gives them more points. (3 in a row = 3 points, 5 in a row = 5 points).

#10 Steal the Ball Scoring

I borrowed this drill from Jenny McDowell, long-time Emory University Head Coach. Use balls to keep the score. Every time a team wins a point or a big point they grab one of the other team’s balls. When they steal all of the balls from the other side they win. Generally I’ll play this out of serve receive, with the winning side receiving serve. When they win 3 in a row they are allowed to steal a ball. Every time they steal a ball they should rotate. The reason I like this game is that the losing side is allowed to serve as quickly as possible, and attempt to catch the other team when they are not ready.

#11 Secret Tendencies

Each team has a secret tendency that the other team does not know of. It might be a particular area of the court that they tend to attack. It might be a particular hitter or position that tends to get set. The scoreboard is hidden, and for each time a team gets a kill with its secret tendency they receive additional points.

#12 Serve/Free/Free

Since serving slows the game down, we add two free balls (or down balls) after the serve. Can be played like a normal game. Points are scored as follows:

  • Win all three points = 2 points
  • Win 2 of the 3 points = 1 point

All of these scoring drills can be modified for your team’s age and skills level. Competitive scoring drills can make practice more fun while helping your athletes understand certain volleyball concepts and improve their skills. If you consistently create a competitive environment during your team’s practices, the idea is that it will translate to tournament play and earning more wins.

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About the Author

Tad Sahara is the Founder of Tsunami Volleyball (Atlanta, GA) a JVA member club with 5 locations and over 110 teams. Tsunami is the second oldest club in the state of Georgia. Tad is the 15 Elite Head Coach and is also the Head Girls Volleyball Coach at Woodward Academy based in College Park, Georgia.

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