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5 Non-Scoring Team Drills to Encourage Challenging and Fun Practices

It is important to build time into your practice for training technique and maximizing reps, however it’s fun to challenge your players with collaborative and competitive drills from the beginning of practice.

Here are five non-scoring team drills to encourage challenging and fun practices:

Particularly in warm-up, and when dealing with a bigger group, it is important to make sure that players get in a lot of movement. For this reason, consider having players rotate every time they send a ball over the net (can also be done every time a rally ends). Two ways of doing this is by Flip Flopping and Neville.

#1 Flip Flop

This drill is usually done with 4v4 (the setter stays in the front row). Every time a ball is directed over the net, the players on the court will switch out with players off the court. If your team does have many players, you can designate the non-rotating players (make sure to switch them regularly). If you only have 8 to 10 players try Neville Rotation.

#2 Neville Rotation

Coaches can run this drill with any combination of players, however it probably works best with 4v4 or 5v5. Every time a team sends the ball goes over the net, all of the players on that side except for the setter (in zone 2/3) will rotate (same direction in volleyball). The players waiting off the court will enter in from the right back). If it is a 5v5 drill, designate where the front row attacker is allowed to attack. I like this drill because it allows for many defensive reps from the same zone, and allows for players that are not familiar with playing a certain back row position to become comfortable playing it.

#3 Columbus Drill

This drill is just like Neville Rotation, however it is played 6v6 and players rotate and play all positions. This allows an attacker to gain experience in the setting position, and a libero to gain experience in the setting position. The goal is to help develop more well rounded volleyball athletes and encourage communication. This should be a fun drill that helps players get outside of their comfort zone, adapt and learn.

#4 The Pyramid

Create a list of drills that are measurable, and when completed, they can be defined as passing, but when not completed, they  are incomplete or failing. It is helpful to use a whiteboard to visually show your team the Pyramid of Drills they are tasked with completing. As soon as the first drill is completed your team moves up the pyramid to the next drill. If you pass the next drill you move on and up the pyramid. If you fail to complete a drill, you move back to the previous drill, or you can decide to give your team one more shot. The ultimate goal is to go through the entire pyramid to the top, and then your team can scrimmage.

Here are a couple tips for The Pyramid:

  • Begin the practice by letting the team know exactly how much time they have to accomplish the pyramid. I usually try to make it something they can do within 30 minutes. Then let them know if they can finish in the 30 minute window then they have the rest of practice to compete 4v4, 6v6, etc.
  • Be aware that when you attempt The Pyramid, it can be very frustrating for you the coach, as well as your players if you do not get through the drills. The frustration is typically not just with the difficulty of the drill, but also with teammates if they are struggling to accomplish the drill. Therefore this may not be the best drill to do before a big tournament.
  • Balance out the pyramid with varying difficulty levels. It is important to create a Pyramid that allows the players and the team to feel success, and not only failure.
  • Address the most important practice needs for your team and design the drill so it is accomplishable and repeatable. If your team needs the most work on serve receive, design one of the first drills to be relatively easy, and then adjust the next drill to create more of a challenge (knowing that the team will repeat serve receive again).
  • For each drill, you can add a reward system for going above and beyond the goal called a BANK. For example, of the goal of a drill is to pass 50 three-option passes in a butterfly in three minutes, but your team reached 60 in three minutes, your team receives a BANK. The BANK allows you to skip to the next drill. The only caveat is that you at least have to try the drill at least once, and you cannot BANK the last drill. It is always fun to observe the players as they debate on where or not they should use the BANK. As mentioned before, this can stir some emotions.
#5 Secret Password

This is a great drill for camps and large groups, or to unwind from a tough or emotional practice. One captain from each team is given a secret password (an action to do on the court) they they are not allowed to relay to their teammates. They can model it, but cannot use gestures or their voice to get their teammates to do it. Once a team accomplishes the secret password, they get a new captain with a new secret password.

Here are some examples:

  • An example may be to use your hands to dig the ball, and win the rally.
  • Left hand kill (for right handed players) Right hand kill (for left-handed players)
  • Setter dump kill
  • Every player on the team comes together and cheer at the end of the rally (regardless of winning or not)
  • Get a kill while singing
  • Win a rally without anyone talking (including prior to ball entry).

The last two drills were taken from Bond Shymansky, formerly the Head Coach at Georgia Tech, Marquette and University of Iowa.

All of these drills can be modified for your team’s age and skills level. They can also be modified to add scoring drills, but regardless, they can make your practice more fun while helping your athletes improve their skills and communication.

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About the Author

Tad Sahara is the Founder of Tsunami Volleyball (Atlanta, GA) a JVA member club with 5 locations and over 110 teams. Tsunami is the second oldest club in the state of Georgia. Tad is the 15 Elite Head Coach and is also the Head Girls Volleyball Coach at Woodward Academy based in College Park, Georgia.

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