The Coaching Corner

The Coaching Corner

Bertrand Olie is the Academies’ Technical Lead at Volleyball England. As well as being head coach at the Loughborough Academy, he helps coordinate the Academy network, supports the Talent Manager and works on the Futures programme.

It goes without saying that he also knows a lot of drills – so we asked him for a selection of some of his personal favourites. As well as describing the drills, we wanted him to explain why he’s such a big fan of these chosen few. If you’re a coach who’s on the lookout for a few new drills, read on….

Favourite outside hitter drill:

This is the spike challenge drill. It proved so popular with my players that I even created an app to help us keep score. Mark out three squares on the court, each 2m by 2m. There should be one square in each of the deep corners. The third square is placed at the intersection of the 3m line and the far side line.

With your outside hitters hitting from 4, they score points for hitting those squares; 1 point for cross-court (the deep 5 corner); 3 points for down the line (the deep 1 corner): and 5 points for hitting the cross-court T. Points are only awarded for “proper” swings; no safe roll shots here!

Why do I like this drill?I just like the element of competition and the way you can vary the scoring parameters. Give the players a time allocation and/or set them a points target; the choice is yours. Do it as a team-based drill or even turn it into a 1v1 hitter duel. The latter can prove popular in a sudden death capacity; if your opponent hits a target, you have to hit at least the same value target to stay in the game.

Favourite serving drill:

This drill may more correctly be seen as both a serving drill and a serve receive drill. As I’ve said before, I’m a fan of combination drills. This is a 1v1 drill – server vs passer – so you could feasibly split your court in half lengthways and run it in two groups at the same time.

It’s a really simple drill; the server serves the ball into court and the passer must then both receive the serve and go and catch the ball they’ve just passed in front of the 3m line. If the passer does this, they get a point. If they fail (i.e. they pass poorly and either don’t catch the ball or the ball doesn’t make it to the front court), then the server gets the point. If the server fouls their serve, the passer gets the point. After a player has passed, they go to serve and vice versa.

Why do I like this drill?It’s another competitive drill which puts skills under pressure. I like running this so that each player serves six balls and receives six balls, meaning there are 12 points available to each player. Every contact matters. The server must serve as aggressively and intelligently as possible to put the passer on the back foot. The passer must not only pass – they must react and move again quickly enough to catch the ball in the front court; a task made much easier if they can pass the ball high enough to give themselves more time to move forwards.

Next time – Bertrand’s favourite middle hitting and game-based drills….

To re-read part 1 of this series, click here.

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