The first contact in volleyball, the pass, is by far the most critical if a team is striving to play at a high level. Even at the beginner level, it’s important for coaches to give their players many repetitions practicing proper technique. There are 3 common bad passing habits that will hinder an athlete’s ability to pass consistently to the target:
- Not moving feet to the ball
- Swinging at the ball
- Poor posture
1. Reach platform to the ball instead of move feet to the ball
- Want to make sure players are moving their feet to pass ball in midline instead of reach for ball
- This habit starts when we allow kids to reach when practicing serve receive from a toss or easy serve. Once the velocity picks up and the serve flattens out, controlling the ball becomes a much harder task.
- When teaching young players to pass it’s important to start with higher, easier balls, but make sure there is focus on getting feet to the ball every time.
A. Rolls. One partner sitting on floor with legs spread. The second partner is in ready passing position and starts at end of the partner on the floors foot. The partner on the floor rolls the ball fast down her leg. Once she gets the ball back, she rolls the ball down her other leg, forcing he partner making who is in passing position to shuffle.
B. Scoops. Same drill, but partner on the floor is now standing.
D. Leg Bounce. Coach enters ball from a toss or serve and ball has to bounce thru the player’s legs.
E. Band Passing. Use green elastic band around ankles forcing kids to shuffle and stay on feet when they move to pass the ball. Start with short distance and progress to cover more ground.
F. Knee pad touch drill.
- Can do continuous on whole court
- Can do with base, read, stage, cover
2. Swinging at the ball
- You don’t want your players to swing at or swipe the ball to get it to the target area
- You want them to learn to drop their shoulder and angle their platform using the transfer of weight to drive the ball to the middle of the court
- Want players to move through the ball with a subtle transfer of weight
- Use angle of the platform and momentum to direct the ball to target
- Tilt not Twist
A. Partner knee passing. Emphasize platform staying over top of knee
- Right foot forward
- Left foot forward
B. Belly Bump. Put ball under shirt forcing the platform to stay out and away from the body.
C. Side to Side Short
D. Lanes Narrow
E. Lane Narrow with Tilt
F. Lanes Wide with Tilt
G. Shuffle Passing
3. Bad Posture
- Shoulders are usually the issue, as players will pop up out of a ready position once the ball is served causing their shoulders to come up.
- Focus should be hips back and shoulders forward
- Keep passing stance shoulder distance apart. When players move back they will make their passing frame smaller by shuffling feet close together.
A. Towel or dot placed on the back of a player while passing. Cannot let is fall off, especially when moving backwards to pass the ball.
B. Russian Drill
C. Antenna. Hold antenna or noddle at head height in front of passer, just off to the wide, so they can use the height of the antenna as a visual to keep head in the same place once the ball is served
It’s important for coaches to reinforce that your players execute proper technique through repetition. Improper technique will create bad habits. By giving your players a lot of touches on the ball with proper technique, you are giving them a better chance of creating and maintaining good habits when passing the volleyball. It’s as easy as that!
About the Author
Anne Kordes is the Associate Director and 17 Red Head Coach at KIVA in Louisville, as well as Assistant Coach at Assumption High School. In 2017 Assumption HS was State and National Champion. Her KIVA 17 Red team was 17 Open Runner-up at the 2017 AAU National Championships, and took home the bronze medal in 2018. Anne has 17 years of coaching experience at the DivisionI level, including the Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at University of Louisville from 2011-2016, and the Head Coach at Saint Louis University from 2004-10. She has garnered numerous conference coach of the year honors and was also the President of the American Volleyball Coaches Association from 2011-2013. Anne finds a way to get the most from her players, and has coached numerous All-American athletes at the junior and college level.