I love the sport of volleyball and enjoy sharing strategies to help teams win.
This article lists a bunch of good warm-up drills for volleyball coaches to use to get their players talking and moving at the start of a practice. Some are cooperative, and some are competitive to keep the players on their toes.
- No Jump 2's
- Four Square Pepper
- Switch Out
- Cooperative/Competitive 6's
- Half Court Long 2's
- Touch and Go
1. No Jump 2's
We play No Jump 2's about once every two weeks in our gym. This is a normal Queen of the Court–style game where players serve their way into the game from the challenging side. The winners get to receive.
It is a rally score game with the caveat that no player is allowed to jump to attack the ball. What this does is to force players to look for holes in the opposing team's defense setup or to aim for short and deep corners.
We typically do this warm-up on two nets with anywhere from 14–16 players. The losing team needs to shag a ball and then switch courts.
Scoring/Length: It is rally scored. Sometimes, we put ten minutes on the scoreboard and play a timed game and see who has the highest score. Other times, we play to a certain amount of points between 15–25, depending on how long we want to spend.
2. Four Square Pepper
In this video, San Diego State Head Coach Deitre Collins-Parker presents a warm-up drill that puts a new spin on traditional pepper. After watching the aerial view of players rotating through the drill, you will see why she calls it Four Square Pepper.
One player stands in each corner, and a setter stands at center court with the ball. The setter tosses the ball to one of the four corners. The player in that corner hits a down ball to the opposite corner where the other three players have already rotated to dig. Whoever digs that down ball runs to her original corner to hit the next set. The other three players run to the opposite corner to dig the down ball.
One group goes for two minutes, at which point a new group steps on the court. At any time, the coach can ask the players to switch setters within their group.
3. Switch Out
In Switch Out, your goal is to work together (cooperative) to get a set number of rallies. We typically do this with groups of 2 or 3 on two nets. If there are 2's on a court, we have six players on one net, 2 on each side and two off the court around the centerline waiting to rotate on. For 3's, the same set up, with a group of three on each side and one off the court in the middle waiting to rotate on.
A rally is started by tossing or downballing a ball into one of the sides. The players use three hits then send the ball over. They rotate out of the court and towards the middle of the net. A new group rotates in as the team on the other side of the net uses their three hits. When they hit it over, they go off, and the team that got the original ball goes in for them.
It is a constant game of rallies, switches, and communication. We typically play to 15 but can see ten for younger levels.
4. Cooperative/Competitive 6's
We start with six on a side and declare that the setter is in position two (right front). However, I might start making one side have their setter in position three (middle front) to start training the middles distances when they become setters.
Teams must use three hits and then they rotate when they send the ball over. If we have seven players, one rotates in to left front and out of left back. We usually set a goal of around 14–20 completed rallies, with a minimum of a downball or jump and attack (can be a tip, shoot, etc.).
Once we have achieved our cooperative goal, we end with a competitive game to ten, using the same rotating rules. This is a good game to get everyone familiar with what other players go through in those positions and to let setters be hitters and hitters be setters.
5. Half Court Long 2's
In this drill, we put a cone down on the endline of each court and let the team get into pairs. We do timed rounds, typically around two to two and a half minutes. The first round is passing and setting only. Second round, we add a down ball in to get the shoulders loose. In the third, we add backrow attack, and the fourth is full-on game play.
We tell the team that they need to use three hits and must switch front and back row each time the ball goes over. Whichever side the ball drops on must initiate the drill with a toss to the back player on the other side. We also set up ball carts all over the place so that play can be re-started quicker.
Each team has a scorekeeper, and winners move up a court and losers move down a court. In the event of a tie, whichever team won the last point moves on to avoid any unnecessary standing around.
6. Touch and Go
This is a drill that you play inside the three-meter line on both sides. Both teams start with three on their side, and a ball is tossed into play. Teams use three hits, and any time a player contacts the ball, they must go and then touch the endline. As players are returning, the other team should be ready to send the ball back over, so there will be some ample communication opportunities.
Scoring: We usually go for cooperative rallies but pair one group on a net against another group on a second net. You could also have one group off conditioning while another goes for a high score. To get more switches, you could also add an offspeed requirement for the third contact.
In this drill, the goal is to get seven good attacks. Divide the group into two even groups and have them start in a single-file line behind the court. The coach will be on the 10' line on the other side of the net.
The drill starts with one group going and the other on the same side of the net as the coach. The coach will slap a ball signifying the team going can enter the court, one at a time. The players enter in reverse order, hitter (3rd contact), then setter (2nd contact), then the passer (1st contact).
The group of three must get a good strong attack to keep their team going, so no off-speed, nothing that gets slowed down by the net, and no attack errors. If they succeed, the next three in their group are in, and the three who went return to the end of the line. If they are not successful, the team that was off runs over and takes a turn.
Teams of 7–8 are ideal so that the groups of three continuously rotate. Make the ball that's entered a little tougher when they reach point five. If they get to seven, they score a big point. You can play to three big points or a timed game to ten minutes.
Ultimately, most teams will only attack from the left side, so you can make a variation that one of the attacks has to be from the right or the middle to mix things up a bit.
Bonus Warm-up Drills
I was searching for the 'Ruckus' drill for communication when the following drill called Bounce showed up in my feed. After watching the video (see above), I thought it was an interesting idea. After playing it, our hustle and pursuit of balls definitely increased. So be sure to give it a try if you get a chance.
Golf is a fun ball control drill that mixes up the goals a bit by asking players to hit the antenna. Our four holes using two nets are:
- Hole 1: Swing from endline into net, off player gets 2, then set into antenna
- Hole 2: Pepper from endline to across, then spike into antenna
- Hole 3: Around the court pepper once, then tip into antenna
- Hole 4: Middle of the court, 3 pancakes, 3 contacts, then into the antenna
JOC (author) from Syracuse, NY on September 18, 2020:
At a D3 college in the US.
Student on September 18, 2020:
Where do you coach?
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on October 12, 2017: