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Build More Efficient Volleyball Practice Plans

May 18, 2013 | Sarah Coffey

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A volleyball team is only as good as its leader, meaning the coach needs to step up. Players will only improve if their coach has the ability to run consistently effective practices. It doesn't matter how strong their spikes, how quick their digs or how adept their serves. If practice is disorganized, soon their game will be too.

Run a killer volleyball practice with the following outline. It combines stretching, cardiovascular, strength and sport-specific drills.

Effective Volleyball Practice Plan Outline

The Warm-Up

Before playing any sport, it's important to warm up. A strong warm-up gets your body moving, elevates your heart rate, loosens your joints and helps prevent injuries.

Volleyball players must move constantly, so it's vital for them to have quick feet. After a few light laps around the court, perform the following drill:

Quick Feet Warm-Up Drill

  • Have players pair up in groups of two, each pair with two volleyballs (one for backup).
  • One player is the roller and the other actively performs the drill.
  • The roller rolls a ball from side to side.
  • The active player touches the ball while shuffling from side to side.
  • The object is to roll the ball back to the roller.
  • If the active player misses the ball, the backup ball comes into play.

This drill allows players not only to develop quick feet but also to increase their heart rate and train their knees and legs to stay low for a longer duration.

Another essential for volleyball is to warm up the players' arms for hitting and serving.

Arm Warm-Up Drills

Hitting lines with a setter

  • Position your setter in the front row and have your team divide into three lines on the back line.
  • Players at the front of each line stand in ready position.
  • Toss the ball to the setter and have her set the ball to one of the players in ready position.
  • The player hits the ball back to the setter, then moves back to the end of the line.

Partner Pass and Hit

  • Have each player pair up to bump back and forth.

Side-out drills

Rotate and Hit

  • All the players line up by the ten-foot line.
  • The first player in each line moves forward using a proper approach and swings through as if she is hitting the ball.

Volleyball Strength Work

Daily workouts will strengthen the athletes' bodies for performance on the court. But it's especially important for volleyball players to develop lower-body and core strength. Your front line players need the highest vertical possible, while your defensive specialists must be able to quickly rebound off the floor after a dig.

To enhance lower-body strength, use plyometric exercises. (Get Plyo Advice from Stanford Volleyball. Then read What You Need to Know About Plyometrics Training and Increase Your Vert for Volleyball With 3 Plyos.) Create a weekly workout plan. Set up a chart and increase time and reps for each objective—strength, conditioning and vertical power.

Sample Volleyball Strength Workout

Sport-Specific Drills


It's so basic it's silly, but the team with the most points wins the match. Sure, you can score from winning volleys, but having strong servers guarantees victories. That's why it's essential to have serving drills like the following in each volleyball practice. Devote at least 20 minutes of each practice to serving drills. (See Develop a More Powerful Volleyball Serve and 3 Fun and Effective Volleyball Serving Drills.)

Serve and sprint

  • Each player serves the ball.
  • After the serve, the player sprints to retrieve the ball and serves from other side.
  • Complete ten successful serves.

Pressure serving

  • Designate specific spots on the opposite court.
  • Each player serves to the spot.
  • Make this either a timed drill (e.g., 10 minutes) or a goal-based drill (e.g. hit each spot five times).


Besides strong servers, you also need skilled passers, especially in the backcourt to set up good hits. Set aside at least 30 minutes of practice for passing drills.

Control passing with partner

  • Players partner up and stand 20 to 25 feet apart.
  • Player one tosses the ball to player two.
  • Player two passes it straight up in the air to herself, then passes it back to player one who does the same thing.
  • Continuously pass back and forth for at least a minute without the ball hitting the ground.

Side-Out drill

  • See above description.

Caterpillar drill

Hitting and Setting

There's nothing more impressive and intimidating than a team that can set up a successful dig, set and spike. No one will want to face up against your squad when each girl can drill the volleyball over the net. Luckily, setting and hitting go hand-in-hand, so you can combine the workload for efficiency. A solid thirty minutes each practice is more than enough time to build a few ace hitters.

  • Position hitters with setters.
  • All players get into their specific positions on one side of the court.
  • Setter sets the ball to where the coach specifies (e.g., left back, right front).
  • Hitter hits the ball over the net.
  • Live play at the net with hitter, setter, and blocker: all players get into their specific positions on one side of the court, with a few on the other side to serve.
  • Run a game simulation by having a player on the opposite side serve to the team.


You can't get more sport-specific than ending practice with a short scrimmage. They are fun for your players, and they give you a chance to see how well your athletes transfer their skills to game play. Scrimmages can help you determine what you need to work on in subsequent practices. Spend the final ten to twenty minutes on a six-on-six scrimmage.

Sarah Coffey
- Sarah Coffey graduated from Christopher Newport University (Hampton Roads, Va.) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Arts in Teaching. While attending...
Sarah Coffey
- Sarah Coffey graduated from Christopher Newport University (Hampton Roads, Va.) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Arts in Teaching. While attending...
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