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From Theory to Practice Volleyball Hitting and Passing Post 2

by Daniel on October 4th, 2011

Then each group of 10 in divided up into pairs, while staying within the group. This is assuming we are using a gym with a three-court set up, because each group of 10 can have their own court. Doing this allows all the athletes to be on a court at once, eliminating downtime. Having the players divide up by skill level allows me to spend more time on the court with my weaker players without having to totally ignore the others my moving from court to court. Pairing the players up allows them to provide extrinsic feedback to each other; this not only helps the person receiving feedback, but also helps the person providing feedback, reinforcing the proper technique and form for the skill they are working on.

3. How would you structure the practice/lesson (e.g., massed vs. distributed; blocked vs. random; mental practice)? Why?

During a typical practice session a distributed practice structure would be used most of the time. The reason I chose distributed is because I have found that my players do not learn or perform as well when they are tired. Short rest periods are incorporated into each drill, but without stopping the drill. For example, a passing drill will have two passers and a target. From the other side of the net a coach serves balls at them. After a player passes a ball to the target area, he then moves and becomes the new target. The target catches his pass and runs the ball back to the coach, then going back to the other side of the net to wait in line to pass again. While they are in line they get a brief period to rest. In line, players are still encouraged to “stay in the drill” mentally, thinking about how to improve the next pass. Drills using a massed structure would only be used for conditioning purposes only.

Blocked practices in volleyball can only happen while practicing the serve, since the only person in complete control of the skill is the server himself. All other skills in volleyball would be difficult to practice in a blocked fashion. Passing requires the passer to move to the ball; this requires someone else to serve the ball. Even the most accurate of servers cannot serve the ball exactly the same for the passer to practice the same pass over and over. The same is true for all the other skills, hitting requires a set, digging requires a hit, and blocking also requires someone else to hit a ball. My personal experience has shown that blocked practices do not work all that well. With a few exceptions, most of my players cannot keep a high level of concentration needed to learn the skill of serving, by just serving over and over again. For the few who can serve for 20 to 30 minutes at a time (with out hurting their shoulders) they seem to forget by the next day. I find blocked practices to be unrealistic;

I try to design drills that put players in a more game-like situation. For passing and hitting we use a random practice structure. A good example can be the “swing hit” drill. In this drill, there are two passers and a setter. A passer receives serve and passes to the setter, who then sets the ball to the hitter. Most players enjoy this drill because it is more game-like and they learn the skills better. Since the players must pass to the setter, the more accurate the pass, most likely, the more accurate the set will be since the setter does not have to chase down a pass. This acts as a motivator, to pass well. “Good pass, better set.”

During a practice session, players are allow periods of down time during drills, waiting in line, or water breaks. At those times they are encouraged to mentally practice the drills.

Picturing themselves passing or hitting with correct form. Ideally this is not the best time to mentally practice since there are so many other things happening. So once a week at the end of practice, players can have a quiet time on the court. They spread out away from each other while staying on the court, and picture themselves in game situations.

I tell them to picture the entire scene, not just what they will see, and they are also told to picture themselves winning. I feel this is the most important part of the mental practice, especially before matches against tougher opponents. The athletes have to believe that they can win. Picturing the entire scene can also prepare players for new things that might happen. For example, if the team has never defended against a certain type of offense, picturing themselves defending against it might reduce the shock of seeing for the first time on the court. We must keep in mind that mental practice is no substitute for the real thing.

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