How do you coach a volleyball team or practice? STEP by step explanation

Coaching a volleyball team can be a challenge as you have to pay attention to a lot of things and have to keep a large group of players in action. This can be quite overwhelming at first as you have to take a lot of things into account and have to deal with several things at the same time. In general, training sessions have multiple steps: warm-up phase, individual ball handling drills, theory, team drills and you often end with a match. Let’s discuss each of these steps in detail.

Warm-up phase: Let’s start

This step is quite simple. You will have a brief chat with the players during which you will reflect on what they are going to learn today and what they should focus on. After this, you will let them run back and forth a few times to make sure that they are ready for the other exercises. You can make a game out of it where one player has to catch others but make sure that players are not running into each other as some players can be very competitive. You don’t want to have problems with people who got upset because they lost a game at the beginning of the training. Players are often still thinking about things that happened at work or school so they could be tense and grumpy. Make sure that the players know what they have to do. This can be done by explaining it to them and then let them spell out what they have to do. This makes sure that everyone knows what is expected from them. You can also indicate what you won’t accept at that point in time (for example overly aggressive players or players that are not engaged). This makes sure that everyone knows what is expected of them. 

 Some coaches prefer to add some stretching exercises, whereas others don’t. This could increase the agility of the players and make sure that they are ready for the rest of the training, which will be quite intense. 

Individual ball handling exercises

Once everyone is warmed up, it is time to work on ball handling. These can be basic passes to another player. It is also possible to let multiple players pass to each other. Encourage your players to experiment with different hand movements and feet positions so that they can get a feel for what works. After a while, you can tell them that they have to pass faster and faster. You can tell them that they have to pass every five seconds and make sure that they get used to high-speed touches. This will really improve their volleyball skills over time. If players are not able to do this, don’t push them too hard as it is a process that takes time. You don’t want to make players feel bad because they are still learning. Even if you think that they still need to improve a lot, you can give them a compliment for trying. This will boost the self-confidence of the player and can make that person more engaged in the future. Being a coach is more than just discussing drills, you also have to support your players and try to make them grow as a person.

 You can also work on reflexes and make sure that your players are able to move quite fast. We discussed this here.

Theory: time to see the patterns in the game

Volleyball is a team sport and you can discuss different ways to attack and defend. There are several drills to let a team work together better:

This can also be done by using footage of other teams or by using film of your own team. On Youtube, you can find videos of professional teams that have been analyzed by commentators. This can offer new insights to your players. If you have a new team, you might have to discuss the basic volleyball rules and regulations again. For example, some players don’t know that you can’t touch the ball twice in a row, that it is not allowed to touch the ball four times as a team, and so on. All these nuances have to be explained to make sure that everyone is on the same page. As a coach, you might take these things for granted but newer players might have never heard about this.

This theoretical part shouldn’t last too long as most players don’t have a big attention span. This can last about 3 to 5 minutes and can also be a way to give players a moment to relax and have a drink. If you keep training for 90 minutes without any pause, your players are going to be exhausted quite fast. Therefore you have to mix high-intensity exercises with the moment that allows the players to catch a breath. Especially at the beginning of the season, some players haven’t had a lot of movement and they need to adjust to the intensity of training again. You will have to build this up again step by step.

Team drills: let’s connect the dots

 You can work on the 5 basic skills in volleyball: digging, blocking, serving, setting, and spiking. Let two players work together to work on the skills. We talked about these before here.

-Digging: one player throws the ball to the other player and he or she has to keep passing it back to the other player

-Blocking: one player throws the ball over the net and the other player has to block it and send the ball back over the net. Let’s get some more ideas in the following video:

-Serving: One player is standing behind the field and has to push the ball over the net. Another player catches the ball and sends it back. This can get quite chaotic if multiple players do this at the same time so you can try to let players switch between multiple exercises so that the field isn’t overrun by players.

-Setting: One player passes to the next one. They work on underhanded and overhand passes so that they master both and can use them during a match.

-Spiking: one player throws the ball to another player and he/she has to push the ball over the net and score a point.

Match: what everyone looks forward to

Here you select two teams and let them play against each other. Try to make sure that the matchup is fair and that both teams have a challenge. Explain how many points they have to score to win to make it clear as some players are very competitive and can get argumentative if they are losing a match. You will have to play referee. Make sure to stay within the allocated time for training as other teams might need the field and players on your team might have other obligations. If the training ends 5 minutes later than planned, it is generally OK but doesn’t end more than 10 minutes later than expected or you will annoy a lot of people.

To conclude, we can state that volleyball training has different parts, from warmup to individual ball handling exercises, to team drills and a match. Each of these requires a lot of attention and training a team is very intense. You have to keep sure that you give supportive comments to your players and don’t be too negative when they do something wrong. Becoming a great coach takes a lot of time and you will learn many things along the way.