Easy Game-Like Volleyball Drill For Your Next Practice

As a player, coach, and spectator, you have a chance to see many different types of drills at practices, games, and tournaments. The most common drill you will see, without a doubt, is one form or another of hitting lines. Hitting lines are when a team works on their offense as a warm-up, and they usually have very little time in games to do this. In practice you can take more time to focus on different aspects of hitting lines (such as how to hit down the line, how to hit cross, good places to tip, etc…) but in a game you want to get the players ready for competition, and hitting lines do very little for your passers and even setters sometimes depending on how you run them.

I believe most drills need to be game-like, and here’s how you get your team warmed up and ready to go in all aspects of pass-set-hit.

When it’s your turn to have the court to yourself, you will need two passing lines, three hitting lines, a setter, a hander, and a shagger. I’m going to use 10 players on a team, though you may have more or less, you can adjust to make this work. The initial set-up will look something like this:

Ideal hitting line set-up for warm-ups and practice.
Ideal hitting line set-up for warm-ups and practice.

How to run this drill

The coach will initiate the drill by tossing a free ball or hitting a downball at one of the passing lines. The passer then passes to the setter, who sets to a hitter, who hit’s the ball over the net, which is then shagged by the shagger and then handed to the coach. Fairly straight forward, and it should flow pretty naturally. The players will follow their ball for the most part, except passers will go into hitting lines, leaving the setter in position. You can switch setters half-way through or some other way, but I like to keep them a constant so they get into the flow of things and the drill can move along quickly.

A few things you will run into:

The passers will not always have a perfect pass. It’s the setters job to make it work, and then the attackers job to make whatever kind of set they get go over the net. However, if the ball is passed over the net, shanked out of the court, or so tight to the net the setter has to tip, that passer is responsible for shagging their own ball, bringing it back to the coach, and re-entering the passing line. You have to have a good pass before you can hit. I believe this encourages the players to try harder on their passing, especially hitters who think their only job is to get a kill every set. Passing is an essential skill to have and this reinforces that.

Another thing you may run into: the set goes over the net. If that’s the case, whoever the intended hitter was needs to go up for a block where the ball is, and then run through the drill as if they hit the ball. No, it’s not completely fair, but it happens in games, they need to deal with it and play it out how they would in a game.

Bigger or smaller than a 10 player team?

With more players, it’s easy to just plug players into a line, and with less players, you may have to limit yourself to one passing line, maybe only two options for hitters, and have an assistant coach act as permanent hander if you have that luxury, that way the shaggers can hand off the ball and run to a passing line instead of wait for the tossing coach to accept the ball.

There are more ways you can tweak this basic set-up to adjust to your needs. I've seen more and less difficult versions of this, but I have found this to be the easiest to understand at all age levels and also the most game like. A drawback is that it may take some time to get a touch on the ball for your hitters, but it gives them multiple opportunities and benefits the team as a whole to be practicing this way.

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