Coaching Tips

Read these 49 Coaching Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Volleyball tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What qualities should I look for in a setter?

Qualities to look for in a setter.

The setter is your quarterback, so you need to look for specific qualities when seeking someone to run your team.

Of course, she must have good hands, coordination, speed and flexibility. But there are other factors to consider in picking your setter.

1- If at all possible, you must find someone with emotional stability. Your setter must remain calm under pressure, and not experience dramatic mood swings that will effect her performance. Part of her job will be to motivate and encourage everyone else when things aren't going well.

2-She must be intellegent, and understand the game well enough to make smart setting decisions. She needs to be able to perceive the overall picture of each play and of the game as a whole.

3-She needs to be confident in her own ability, and have the belief that if she takes charge of a given situation, she can have a positive impact.

4-She has to have broad shoulders, and be able to take the pressure away from more volatile players. (I.E. taking responsibility for hitting errors in critical situations.)

5-By putting her own ego second, she needs to be able to make everyone around her feel like they are better players, such as making hitters believe that all putaways are the results of great hits, but all hitting errors are the results of poor sets.

Finding a setter with all these qualities is difficult, but if you can find her, she can make a huge difference in your team's success.

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How can I be a better back row defender?

Tips for Center Back Defenders

The center back is critical to any team's defense. As a CB, you have the best view of what's happening. You're like the center fielder in a baseball game. You get to see everything unfold, and are in the best position to react, or to call out what you're seeing so your teammates can react.

Here's a few tips for playing effective CB:
1-Stay back! Cheating up is easy to do, but can be fatal, since CB is responsible for everything deep, sideline to sideline. If you cheat up, you can't cover deep effectively.

2-Talk! Since you have the best view of the action, tell your teammates what you're seeing, so they can react.

3-Call "in" and "out" on every ball, so teammates can make quick decisions on whether to play it or not.

4-Call all touches when you see them, so teammates can react quickly.

5-Make plays on anything close. CBs must be fearless, and willing to sacrifice their bodies to keep the ball in play. You're often the last resort, and can make the difference between winning and losing with spectacular saves. Remember the old adage: "Make the play first, then decide if it was impossible."

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

How to Keep Jammed Fingers to a Minimum

Finger Stretches

How to keep jammed fingers to a minimum:

We all do warm up stretches but only the wise players
think to stretch their fingers despite what we put
them through. Place your hand flat on the floor and
gently pull up on each finger until you have stretched
it. It can help prevent jams, which inhibit your
playing ability.

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Do you have any practice tips for coaches?

Iradge Ahrabi-Fard's Sample Practice

University of Northern Iowa coach, Iradge Ahrabi-Fard, recommends the following outine for a practice:

1-Warm up (Jogging, stretching, and ball warm ups like wall ball or pepper.)

2-Main work out (Involving review of the last skill worked on previously, drills geared toward a specific phase of the game, and serve/receive drills.)

3-Intense game drills (Incorporating all phases of the game.)

4-On court conditioning (Strength training such as push ups, sit ups, etc.; speed training like sprints, power training, such as plyometric jumping, and agility training, such as rope jumping and foot movement.)

5-Cool down ("Active rest," such as slow jog and stretching.)

6-Dismissal (Putting away equipment, final comments and verbal dismissal.)

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

The Most Important Muscle for a Volleyball Payer to Develop

Speak in Tongues

Here's some tongue-in-cheek advice on communication:

What's the most important muscle for a volleyball player to develop? Their tongue! Communication is critical to the 9th degree. If you've taken a vow
of silence, join a monastery ... but don't play volleyball!

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How can I assess passers?

Assessing Passers

Here's a method for assessing passers at the beginning of the season:

Have two passers on one side of the net, along with a target player, to give them someone to pass to.

Serve fairly quickly to the 2 players, having an assistant keep stats on each serve. Give a + for a perfect pass, one a setter could use to run a center attack with, a - for a shanked pass, and 1/2 for a pass high enough for the setter to put the ball into the air for some kind of set.

Use the player's first initial, so you'll be able to tell who passed each ball. If your players were Misty and Kim, the stats would look something like this: M+, K1/2, M+, K-, M-, K+, etc.

Keep the drill moving, stress accuracy. If you can't find a consistent server, you can run the drill by just tossing the ball over.

This will give you a quantifiable gauge in assessing your players' passing abilities.

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What are the steps to skill introduction?

Introducing A Skill

According to Carl McGown, longtime coach of BYU's powerful Men's volleyball team, here's a program for introducing players to a new skill:

1- Have a skilled player demonstrate the skill 5-6 times. Have your players view the skill from several different vantage points.

2- Break the skill into "keys to remember." That is, finer points within the main skill. Go through those keys individually with players, emphasizing each key as you go.

3- Have players attempt the skill, offering feedback on the things they do correctly.

4- Show the keys again, have the skilled players demonstrate the keys and the entire skill several more times.

5- Have players attempt the keys again, in succession, individually, offering feedback as they go.

6- Have players go through the entire skill, using all the keys, in a gamelike situation, still offering feedback.

7- Answer any and all questions regarding the skill before moving on to the next item on your agenda.

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How can I assess servers?

Assessing Servers

You can assess servers simply by having them serve 50 balls and keeping record of how many they got in.

A second, more advanced assessment can be made by keeping stats for each serving area. Have them serve 10 to Area 1, 10 to Area 2, etc., and keep stats on their accuracy.

A third assessment tool is to play a game of "golf," keeping track of how many serves it takes to hit all six serving areas. A perfect score would be 6, of course, but that rarely happens. Have each player keep track of how many serves it took for each area, and tally up the result at the end. This will not only tell you which players are the most accurate, but also which areas even your best servers still need to work on.

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What are some physical qualities to look for in potential players?

Physical Qualities to Look For In Your Setter

When trying to fill your setting role, here's some suggestions of what to look for:

1) Great athletic ability. Quick, powerful, with good perception skills and peripheral vision.

2) A great pair of hands, allowing total control over each set, and the ability to move into a position to allow the hands to do most of the work.

3) Good size. It used to be the coach would walk down the line of would-be players, pick out the smallest player and say, "You're our setter." But it's better to have a setter who can do more things, like tipping, jump setting or even turning to crank, at times.

4) Good spatial orientation, which means knowing where everyone is, on both sides of the net, at all times.

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What types of players should I look for in each position?

Rotation

Rotation

A coaching tip on setting your starting line-up:

Start your best hitter in position #5 to maximize their front row time.

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How can I become a better setter?

Teaching setters a soft touch

Once your setter has gotten the motion down, has learned all the basic skills, and is ready to move to the next level, consider having her set at least part of the time wearing a pair of cotton gloves.

The gloves will make it nearly impossible for her to use anything but her fingertips to set, and force her to use proper technique when setting.

She can take them off after an initial session, but it's worthwhile to have your setter work with the gloves for a brief period everyday, especially at the beginning of the season, when she's working hardest on perfecting her technique.

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Do you have any charting tips for coaches?

Basic Charts You'll Want To Keep

To know if your program and players are moving in the right direction, you'll need to keep several charts. In our program, we keep just a few basics, in no small part because we always have difficulty finding people to help keep stats for us. (A constant problem among programs not listed among the "elite.")

We keep a serving chart, with simply + or - signs, for successful or unsuccessful, and we circle our aces. That's it. In our program, we're happy just to have the ball over the net, so we don't call our servers to hit certain areas. If you do, you'll want to add notations about which area the ball was hit to.

We keep stats on hitting, which also gives us assists at the same time. We put the number of the setter next to the hit, with an M, R, L, or BR (Back Row)each time a player hits. Then we mark the hit with a + (kill), - (error) or 0 (hit was returned).

Our dig chart is very simple, as well. We mark a successful dig with a "D," and a ball that was simply touched by a player with a "T." That lets us know the player made an effort to get the ball. We count "D's" as one dig, and "T's" as 1/2. A 3rd mark, "-," tells us the player made no play on the ball, and we address that lack of hustle in the next practice session. (Digs are only counted on hard-driven spikes, not serve receives.)

Our last chart is for blocks, and consists of "S" for solo blocks, "A" for assisted blocks, and "E" for errors. If the stat keeper can't tell who actually made the block when 2 blockers are involved, we have them both credited with and assisted block. That takes the pressure off the statisticians. (Blocks must hit the ground for point or side out to count.)

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How can I assess my setters?

Assessing Setters, Part 1

Finding a setter is important, so you'll take more time to find the right one.

The first test is simple. Have them stand at the net, toss them a ball, and have them set high outside. Keep track of how many they get out of 25.

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Do you have any practice tips for coaches?

John Wooden's Theory of Everyday Practice

Legendary coach John Wooden summed up his philosophy of practice in his book "They Call Me Coach:"

"The best teacher is repetition, day after day, throughout the season. The player who practices well, plays well."

"End practice on a happy note. It's a game, it should be fun. I want players to feel that the worst punishment I can give them is to deny them the privilege of practicing. If they don't want to practice, I don't want them there."

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How can I assess my setters?

Assessing Setters, Part 5

Step 5 in your setter assessment process involves tossing the ball very tough, and having your setters chase it down, making any kind of set. Make it tough for them, you need setters who won't give up, no matter what, and who can get the ball up somewhere, high enough for someone to hit it.

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How can I assess my setters?

Assessing Setters, Part 4

Step 4 is to give the setters tough sets, off the net, and have them go high outside, regardless of where the ball is picked up.

This will give clues as to their athleticism and desire.

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How can I assess setters?

Assessing Setters, Step One

Setters are the quarterbacks of your team, so you have to evaluate potential setters on many levels. But the first is their hand-eye coordination and ability to put the ball where they want it to go.

You can assess potential setters' hands with some simple tests:

1-Have setter stand at net, have a player toss balls at them, which they set high outside to a player, standing at a spot where a hitter would hit from, but instead of hitting, they simply catch the ball. After 25 sets, record the number of sets that went perfectly to the catcher.

2-Run the same drill, but have the player backset high outside. Record the results.

There are many other factors involved in finding your setter, but this is step one.

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

Basic Coaching Tips

If you're a beginning coach, here's a few basic ideas of how to conduct your affairs:

Treat everyone the same, but not exactly.
Delegate tasks, but supervise everyone.
Discipline, but always toward success.
Pursue excellence in everything you do and say.
Don't get emotionally involved in failure.
Always support individual integrity.

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

To 5-1 or not to 5-1

Especially at the high school level, coaches often have to wrestle with the fact that they just don't have two varsity-level setters. And that always brings up the dilemma: should you go with a 5-1, or stay with the 6-2 and hope for the best?

There are two strong schools of thought: The first says to go ahead and use the 6-2, because the second player will eventually gain enough experience to become a varsity-level player.

But the second assumes that 2nd setter will never make the grade, and it's best to go 5-1 with the strong setter you now have.

Subscribers to the first theory say it's important to keep bringing setters along, because eventually that setter will graduate, and you'll be left with no one who has varsity experience.

Believers in the second group look at short-term results, and feel a new setter can be groomed a little at a time, without throwing that player into the fire when they're not ready. In the meantime, they say, the team will do better with a strong setter all the way around.

Which tack is best for your team? Ultimately, you'll have to decide for yourself, but in the meantime, you'll hear empassioned opinions on either side of the debate.

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How can I assess my setters?

Assessing Setters, Part 3

A third setter assessment will involve calling out which way you want the set to go, so you can gauge how quickly they can execute a manuever.

Call out "outside" or "back," being careful not to get into a rhythm, and have someone record how accurate the sets are.

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

Setting Goals, Part 3

Once we've set the goal for that particular season, we turn our attention to the younger players who will be in the program for a couple or more years, and begin to ask for longer term goals.

"We'll move into the upper division of our conference, then move on in the play-offs, then go to state," for instance, sets a 3 year goal. But we temper that with "at the minimum," so we allow ourselves the opportunity to surpass our goals. We don't want to just do enough to accomplish the goal when we're capable of doing more.

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How can I assess my setters?

Assessing Setters, Part 2

The second test, after you've determined how accurate your potential setters are at the high outside, is to toss them 25 balls, and have them see how many accurate back sets they can execute.

All the assessments should be done over the course of several days, to allow for someone having an off day.

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How can I deal with my players better?

When to Yell

It's been said that a coach yells when they've reached the limits of what they know. Especially at the varsity level, it's usually not effective or helpful to yell at your players after they've made an error. If they're varsity players, they already feel bad enough for making a mistake. They're punishing themselves in their minds, and reprocessing the information they've just gathered in order not to make that mistake again. It is counterproductive to add guilt or anger to that mix. Better to let them work it out, offer encouragement, and let them move on.

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What are some player types?

Hebert's Player Types, Part 5

When thinking about where to place players on your team, think in terms of basketball. Your stud is comparable to the big guy in the middle, the fiery one who blocks shots and can stuff rebounds back with thunderous slam dunks. Your winner is comparable to the point guard, who runs the team and can make things happen when the team needs a boost. Your stablizers are the players on the wings who quietly score 20 points, amazing everyone at the end of the game with how much they actually contributed to the victory.

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

Setting Goals, Part 1

Everyone knows about goal setting, but 90% of folks
never really set clear goals for themselves. As a
coach, that can hurt program.

We meet with our players at the beginning of each
season, and ask them what they think a realistic goal should be for the season. Invariably, they say, "Go to state." We tell them that's an admirable goal, but for a team that has only had 3 winning seasons in school history, is it a realistic goal?

That's the key to your goal setting: the goal must be realistic and attainable.

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How can I assess my passers?

Assessing Passers

To assess passers at the beginning of the season, have 2 players line up in the back row, with a target person in center front.

Serve 25 balls to each of them, first from the opposite 10' line, and then from the endline, having someone keep stats.

Players get a + for a pass within 3' of the target, a - for a shank or bad pass, and 1/2 point for a good effort on a difficult serve.

Total up the stats on several consecutive days, and you'll have an idea who your passers will be.

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

Call It A Pass

It's a "Pass," not a "Bump"

Here's some sage advice for coaches:

Never refer to the underhand pass as a "bump." Calling
it a bump promotes the mindset of swinging your arms
at the ball rather than "passing it, Thanksgiving
dinner style, to your setter.

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What did John Wooden say about everyday practice?

Knockout Punch

Knockout Punch

Here's some coaching strategy for when you have a
team on the run:

When you have a team on the ropes, try to speed up
your game (shorter delays to serve, faster sets, etc.)
to keep them from recovering.

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How can I become a better setter?

Tennis Ball Wall Toss

Developing Ambidexterity - Tennis Ball Wall Toss

All players, especially setters, can benefit from becoming even slightly ambidextrous. To begin the practice, throw a tennis ball against a wall with your natural hand and then try to mimic the motion exactly with the other hand - practice and patience makes perfect.

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How can I assess my blockers?

When To Laugh

I'll never forget my first tournament as a high school coach. I was coaching the freshman team, and the other team had just taken a time out at a critical juncture.

We'd been handling our opponent easily, so the mood in the huddle was relaxed ... a little too relaxed, I thought. So I put on my "stern coach" face and began my "knuckle down, it ain't over till it's over" speech.

After a few seconds, I began a sentence by saying, "I don't want you guys to hate me, but..."

One of the players instantly interrupted, saying, "But we already hate you, coach!"

The entire team cracked up, went back onto the court and took care of business. I learned at that moment that huddles don't always have to be intense. When the game is flowing in your direction, it's often better just to keep the team loose and the mood of the huddle light.

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

Save on Injuries during Practice

Gates

Save on injuries:

A good addition to a volleyball practice are small
2 1/2' x 21/2' mesh fences to place around the hitting
area to keep balls from rolling underfoot (and
possibly costing you a hitter via a blown ankle).

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What are some player types?

Hebert's Player Types, Part 4

Hebert recommends trying to find a stud as middle blocker, a winner as setter, and then carefully analyzing all your remaining players in light of the 3 player types.

Given a choice between a more talented athlete and a player who will add stability to your team through attitude and hard work, Hebert recommend going with the less talented athlete who can add stability and quiet confidence to your team.

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How can I assess my servers?

Assessing Servers

Assessing servers is merely a matter of having them first serve 25 balls, to see how many they get over. Then you have them serve to each of the 6 areas, keeping tabs on how many serves it takes in each area.

Do this over several days, and you'll know who your consistent servers are, for when you just need the ball over, and who your accurate servers are, for when the ball must go to a particular area.

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What types of players should I look for in each position?

Ideas for your first server

Service's Up

Ideas for your first server:

Start your best server as your first server, to bring
them in to serve as often as possible.

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What are some player types?

Hebert's Player Types, Part 3

According to Hebert, the 3rd type of player is the "Stabilizer." They're players who stay calm in the face of adversity, and are rarely the players who will hurt you in a situation, even though they're not dominant enough to be called studs.

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How can I assess my blockers?

Assessing Blockers, Part 2

Step 2 in blocker assessment is to have your blockers try to stuff as many as they can out of 25, with your hitting line instructed to hit only line shots.

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

Brainstorm Potential Disasters

What If?

As a team, use "down time" during travel and between games to play "What If?" We sit down and brainstorm potential disasters (i.e., what if we forget our
practice balls and arrive at a tournament that doesn't supply them?). Then we work up solutions (i.e., borrow from team X during this tournament). In this way you're prepared when disaster strikes. (It's saved my teams numerous times.)

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

Setting Goals, Part 2

In a high school program, it's difficult to set long term goal, because typically your team will change drastically every couple years. It's not like college ball, where you can go out and recruit in order to attain your goals.

So we first talk with the team, asking what a short-term goal should be, such as "moving to the upper division of our conference."

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Should I videotape the players?

Videotaping Your Players

Don't overlook the importance of videotaping your athletes. It can make coaching technique much easier.

It's one thing to tell a hitter, "You're dropping your left arm before you go into your armswing," but it's quite another, and much more effective, to be able to show that hitter on a television screen.

Seeing their mistakes is a powerful tool for getting athletes to make changes. Then, as you show them video of them performing a skill correctly, they can learn to do it more often.

Use video as a training tool ... it can save a great deal of time and frustration, for your athletes and your coaching staff.

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What are some player types?

Hebert's Player Types, Part 2

The second type player, according to Hebert, is the "Winner." Winners run the offense, and if you can get a winner as your setter and a stud as your middle blocker, you're well on your way to success.

Winners have a "go for it at all costs" philosophy, and never give up, no matter what the situation. That's why your setter is a prime candidate. But you want to populate your team with as many winners as possible.

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

Preparing For Icebergs

"Practice for Icebergs"

Here's some good coaching advice that can help your team win more games:

Always be prepared for disaster at the net and spend
some time working out solutions in controlled practices
rather than critical games.

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Do you have some basic coaching tips?

Emergency Moves

Emergency Spear

Here's a tip from hyo-sen on emergency moves, which
come up in every game, and are difficult to execute
if you haven't practiced them over and over:

All players, especially setters, should practice using
all arm and hand parts for emergency recoveries from
the net.

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How can I assess setters?

Assessing Setters - Step Two

After you've determined who has good hands, you'll need to assess quickness and agility. You can do this by having your setter begin in Right Back and making a quick move to Center Front to set.

Toss the ball to CF, have the setter move from RB to CF quickly and set the ball outside, where another player catches it. Run the assessment drill with front sets, and then back sets and record the results.

This will give you clues as to hustle, desire, quickness and agility, as well as accuracy in your potential quarterback/setter.

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Should I wear knee pads?

The Great Kneepad Debate

There has always been a debate on whether or not to have players wear kneepads. Great cases have been made on both sides, but the arguments boil down to these basic philosophies:

The "anti-kneepad" coaches believe wearing kneepads makes players lazy, allowing them to slide of their knees to make difficult plays rather than moving their feet and getting into proper position well before such an emergency measure is necessary.

The "pro-kneepad" contingent believes kneepads encourage players to hit the floor and be more aggressive in going after balls they might normally not pursue if they were concerned about getting hurt.

Both sides have strong cases, and the debate will probably never cease. You'll have to make an individual judgement for your team.

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Should we keep a towel handy in practice?

Keeping a Setter Towel On Hand

Keeping A Setter Towel Handy

Here's a tip about sweat (you do sweat when you practice, don't you?):

When practicing multiple reps, it's a good idea for the setter to fold a small handtowel into their waist band to wipe their hands, face or floor if the
sweat is really flying!

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How can I assess my blockers?

Assessing Blockers, Part 3

Step 3 in blocker assessment involves finding your middle blockers, which is critical to your team's success. Have one player set up on the angle, and the prospective middle at center front.

On each signal, have the middle rush outside, close the block and see how many they can stuff out of 25.

Do this right and left side, to test mobility each way.

Do all your assessments over several days, and keep a running total.

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What are the elements of a successful practice?

Set the Jousting Zone

Jousting Zones

Get a feel for "jousting zones," where many games are won and lost:

On balls passed into the "jousting zone" at the top of the net a front row, your setter should always attempt to make a jump set, even if it's just to draw an infringement call from the referee. You may get some balls you normally would have lost to a pound from the other side.

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How can I assess my blockers?

Assessing Blockers, Part 1

Blocking is very important, so you'll spend quite a bit of time on choosing your best players.

First, have a player line up across from a line of hitters. Instruct all your hitters to hit angle, and count how many blocks the blocker gets out of 25 attempts.

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How can I help team focus?

Focus on the competition

Here is a simple tip I picked up from an Italian pro team to help focus your players on the competition.

When your team is going through its pre-game stretching don't line them up in a circle facing each other. Instead have them all face their opponent across the net while they stretch. This helps them focus and get familiar with their opponent. In some cases it will intimidate the other team.

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William Pirraglia