Presidents’ Day Weekend has passed and your girls teams have 2-3 tournaments under their belts. Coaches have been able to evaluate what line-ups and offensive combinations have been successful, along with some areas of weakness to improve upon heading into mid-season. For teams heading to Qualifiers, you have four to six weeks to prepare your team to peak and earn a bid to Nationals.
On the other hand, the boys’ season for 15-18’s has either ended or will be taking a break or ending after this weekend due to High School spring sports conflicts. Some high school federations have a rule where boys have to be done with club volleyball at least two weeks before High School tryouts, so Presidents day is almost always last weekend teams try to play. However, many 14 and under teams can and do continue their season through June. Some teams have a split season where they break through April/early May and then start back up in preparation for the National Championships in early July.
Here is a club training model that shares what concepts to focus on during the middle of the season, along with some drills to train those concepts, and a sample practice plan.
- Technical training is still a focus however there is now a greater emphasis on team training revolving around line-up adjustments, serve receive rotations, offensive efficiency, and setter/hitter connections.
- Teams are playing a lot of matches during tournaments, so although there can be more time spent on competition in practice, the drills do not need to include long rallies. If two teams are sharing a court, one team will focus on the serve and block and defensive strategy, while the other team is working on serve receive and offensive systems. If one team is training on a court, this can be emphasized in the same way.
- There are heightened expectations in the gym during Qualifier season. It is difficult to follow the model to peak twice during the season without injury (Qualifies and Nationals). It is important for coaches to be consistent with expectations, setting the bar, and challenging the athletes to be work hard and stay focused.
- As your teams face your top competition in your respective age division and region, the older teams can start to scout opponents, watch video and hold practices centered around strategies to beat the competition. This can involve offensive and defensive strategy, and adjustments that can be made against those teams.
What to Train and How Much Time to Allocate to Each Practice
Ball Control Warm-Up – 5%. Maximize quality reps and integrate multi-skill focused drills
Serve/Pass – 25% of practice. Have your primary passers receiving ample reps in the serve receive rotations you need to improve the most.
- Serve and Pass Progression for Master Training
- 3 Competitive Serve Pass Drills
- Tough After 20
- Serve/Serve Receive with 2nd contact
Offensive and Defensive Systems, Offense to Base Defense. 20-25%
- Cooperative and Combative Left Side Drills
- Attacking and Tempo Drill
- Block Transition Drill
- Coach on 6 transition drill
Positional Training: 25%. Can combine positions: ie setters with the middles, setters with pin hitters to work on tempo, etc. Can keep positions separate as well.
- Free ball pass to attack
- 5 Defensive Drills to Train Top Level Defense
- Training the Outside Set: Footwork, hand position and squaring to target
- Positional work for Master Training
- Middle blocker transition to attack
Competition: 25-30%. 4v4, 5v5 and 6v6. Create drills that focus on situational and intentional competition. Does not need to include long rallies.
- 5v5 and 6v6 wash drills
- Cooperative and combative left side drills
- Serve Pass Wash Drill incorporating the middle attack
- The sweep drill
Sample Practice Plan (2 1/2 hours)
0-0:10 Ball Control Warm Up, Ground Work: Core and Movement
0:10-0:20 Coach or Captain Lead Isolated Passing or Digging Drill, Setters Set off Live Pass
0:20-0:30 Serve and Receive Warm-Up with Setters
0:30-0:40 Point of Contact: hip rotation, throwing
0:40-1:00 Team of Small Group Defense, digging first contact to run an offense
1:00-1:15 Serve and Receive – add cover ball back to base read. These eventually lead into rally situations.
1:15-1:45 Positional Training – can vary to add positions in combo drills and focusing on certain sets
1:45-2:00 1st Ball Side-Out – serve a lot at Zone 1 to force the setter to find the middle. Work on middles passing the short ball. Not focused on long rallies.
2:00-2:20 Transition Drills
2:20-2:25 Serving – being intentional about the serve location and difficulty
This series (Part 2) was developed from the JVA Webinar: What to Train and When and How to Train It. View the webinar here.