The first month of season is filled with excitement and eagerness to hit the ground running at the first few practices. It’s common for girls teams to begin training around this time, in mid-November, with hopes of ending the season at a National Championship in late June/early July. Most boys’ teams have been practicing for 3-4 months at this point and are gearing up for their first tournament in late November/early December. Considering the season lasts eight months, we’ve created a club training model that shares what concepts to focus on in the first part of the season, along with the drills to train those concepts, and a sample practice plan.
- Mastering the Simple: take pride in handling the ball well on the first contact with serve and serve receive.
- Establish the Tempo of Practice: how you train will reflect how your teams will compete. Set the tone for the pace of practice, how water breaks are handled, sense of urgency on every point, how players move around and stay engaged during drills, etc.
- Set Expectations for Culture and Communication: this comes from the top and should resonate across every team and the entire coaching staff. Players should learn what terminology to use on offense and defense, and teams should develop camaraderie early on.
What to Train and How Much Time to Allocate to Each Practice
Ball Control Warm-Up – 5%. Maximize quality reps and get your players communicating early on.
Serve/Pass – 30-40% of practice. Master the 1st contact.
Introducing Offensive and Defensive Systems, Offense to Base Defense. 10-20%
Positional Training: 35-40%. Can combine positions: ie setters with the middles, setters with outside hitters to work on tempo, etc. Can keep positions separate as well. Setter hand signals, jump setting technique and defensive moves, Libero floor moves and second ball setting, middles blocking movement and transition footwork, etc.
- Pass to attack variations
- Free ball pass to attack
- Pass to attack combo drill
- Middle blocker transition to attack
Competition: 10%. 4v4, 5v5 and 6v6. This increases as the season moves forward.
- 5v5 and 6v6 wash drills
- Cooperative and combative left side drills
- Serve Pass Wash Drill incorporating the middle attack
- The sweep drill
For 18s that compete earlier in qualifiers, more competition can be incorporated in the first few weeks. One team might need to focus more on side out rotations than block transition, so understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses after the first couple of weeks and adjust as needed.
Sample Practice Plan
0-10:00 Ball Control Warm Up, groups of 2 or 3, Cooperative or Competitive
10-25:00 Isolated Passing or Digging Drill, Setters Set off Live Pass
25-40:00 4 Corners Passing Drill. Can be run on the same side of the court or across the net. View example.
40-1:10:00 Positional Training
1:10-1:25:00 Combination Work. Setters with Middles. Liberos with Pin Hitters. Rotate combinations.
1:25-2:00:00 5v5 and 6v6 Play: Out of System, Serve Receive Rotations, Defensive Variations, Game to 15
This series (Part 1) was developed from the JVA Webinar: What to Train and When and How to Train It. View the webinar here.