In my ten years of professional playing experience, I learned that a pre-tournament practice is critical for the team to perform their best. All of the heavy work should be conducted during earlier practices.
Here are some keys to focus on during a practice before a tournament:
- Fundamental reps: plan drills that are lighter in physical exertion and focus on making sure the team is feeling good about their skills
- Lineups/ rotations recap: refresh memory of your team lineups and rotations.
- Light lower body/ core strength: since volleyball is a high-impact sport, incorporate some lower body and core conditioning to help the athletes perform more consistently and reduce injuries.
Below is an example of a 2-Hour Pre-Tournament Practice Plan:
0:00-0:10 Warmup games: Dodgeball, Newcomb (or other fun games the team likes)
0:10-0:20 Serving drill: serving targets with a time limit( use dots/ chairs/ boxes to mark the area we want the team to focus on)
0:20-0:40 Serve-receive by rotation: five good passes each rotation
0:40-0:50 Hitting lines: hitting by positions, setters switch after setting each attacker
0:50-1:15 6v6 Wash Drill: Starting side receives two balls: a serve receive and a free ball. Starting side needs to win both balls before the opposing side gets 5 points
1:15-1:40 1 Game to 25
1:40-2:00 Lower body/ core strength and cool down
Squad hold 15x
Plank for 1 minute
Band side shuffle to the net and back
Hip dip planks 20x
Repeat this circuit 3x
After a long weekend with 7-9 matches, the players are physically and mentally exhausted. It is very different from my playing experience since I practiced eight hours a day and was trained to compete over the course of a longer season with significantly less matches each week. Therefore, coaches need to recognize that the main focus for post-tournament practice should be recovery and injury prevention.
Here are some keys to focus on during a practice after a tournament:
- non/low-jumping reps
- resolving problems or weaknesses discovered in the games.
Below is an example of a 2-Hour Post-Tournament Practice Plan:
0:00-0:30 Film studying/ team meeting: Discuss what problems occurred during the tournament that the team can improve on
0:30-0:50 Recovery yoga/ deep stretch
0:50-1:20 Serve receive from boxes: Servers on the box with a controlled serve to a designated area, passers focus on passing/angling reps and building muscle memory
1:20-1:50 Problem solving from film studying/ team meeting
Example: Problem – left back defender does not square feet and hips to the outside hitter when digging angles.
Drill – coaches hit down balls from outside to the left back to help left back players correct their defense.
View additional practice planning and game management resources.
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