Working with high school volleyball players requires a combination of technical knowledge and the ability to make things fun. Here are some tips on how you can do it.
Focus on proper mechanics
You have a responsibility when working with young volleyball players to do everything you can to teach and encourage proper mechanics. This will serve your players well in a couple of ways. First, it will help prevent injuries, particularly from overuse, throughout a playing career. Second, developing proper mechanics early on will avoid having to fix bad mechanics later on, which is a huge challenge. Of course, having proper mechanics is also beneficial in terms of maximizing gaming performance.
Focus more on serving and passing
Until you get to the more advanced levels of play, serving and passing will determine how most points are scored. This isn’t specifically about aces, although they are certainly a factor. It’s mostly about creating (if you’re serving) or avoiding (if you’re receiving) mixed plays, what we call out-of-system plays at higher levels. Your players may not be at the point where they can execute pass, set, and hit plays very often, but generally speaking, if they can do it more often than the other team, they will probably have good success.
Worry more about the right game, less about winning and losing
When you put players in a competitive game situation, you always run the risk that they will fall for shortcuts and not play volleyball properly. Children quickly learn that simply returning the ball over the net means fewer opportunities to make a mistake that will cost the team a point. You want them to work on a good three contact game though, so you need to make sure the focus is on that and not just scoring.
Includes a lot of game
Drills can be boring, especially serving and passing drills. You will lose the player’s focus (which has already been attempted) if all you do is run him through basic reps. Also, the children will learn more about playing volleyball by playing volleyball. Even at the highest levels there is a great focus on the use of the game in training. Obviously, you have to take into account the abilities of your players to achieve good gaming experiences, both in terms of enjoying something and working on development needs.
play small games
The more contact with the ball and games your children get, the faster they will develop. There has been a very good move towards playing 4 vs. 4 instead of 6v6 for younger players and beginners. That alone should provide about 33% more contacts. This will help keep players engaged. When you also have them play on a smaller court (normal half, badminton, etc) you can get even more touches by creating longer rallies.
That’s just a few things to start with. However, if you use these five tips in your middle school volleyball program, you’ll go a long way. Your players will learn and enjoy themselves and their future coaches will thank you.