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Steps for Playing Volleyball -  How to Learn to Play Volleyball?

Steps for playing volleyball - how to learn to play volleyball a step by step? How to learn techniques fast and properly?

How to learn to play by volleyball-like games?

And how to learn to play today's fast game?

Steps for Playing Volleyball - First Step: Practicing Volleyball Techniques

It is important for the beginning volleyball players to learn the basic technical skills, such as 1) shuffling, 2) basic stance, 3) passing, 4) setting, 5) underhand serve.

It is extremely important to run technical drills focusing on each technique. Players are not able to learn techniques correctly just by playing. For example there are several different volleyball passing techniques – the best way to learn them properly - and also faster - is to do it through specific technical drills.

To learn more how to teach technical skills and "how to break down the drill", go to Volleyball Drills section.

Steps for Playing Volleyball - Second Step: Practicing Volleyball Tactics

While teaching the basic technical skills, the coach should also bring up the tactical side of volleyball. One way to introduce tactics is through volleyball-like games.

Coaches can teach volleyball tactics for example by “catch and toss”- games, which means beginning volleyball players play volleyball by catching and tossing the ball. However, the goal is to start playing real volleyball as soon as the skills allow it.

Steps for Playing Volleyball - Volleyball-like Games 

Steps for Playing Volleyball - "Catch and Toss Games"

First, the players could be catching and tossing every contact.

When skills improve beginning volleyball players can move into games, in which players need to set/bump over the net only with the last, third contact - other contacts still being "catch and toss". The next step is to allow catch and toss only with the first contact, the set being a real set.

Steps for Playing Volleyball - "Mini-Court Games"

Important Tip! When playing these volleyball-like games it is extremely important to keep the court small!

When players are ready to bump and set with every contact, the coach needs to make sure the court is small enough to keep the rallies longer. Then gradually moving into the larger and larger court.

"Mini-Court Games" for the Skills Training

These mini-games are excellent also to teach technical skills for the beginning volleyball players. They are much more interesting than monotonous skills training.

To read more about those mini-games, go the link section in the bottom of the “how to play volleyball” page.

Steps for Playing Volleyball - Third Step: More Advanced Technical Drills

Combining Skills Together

When volleyball skills develop, coaches should be making technical drills a little by little more complex.

The players move to the net to make the technical drills in the game-like situation. For example they combine passing and hitting drills together – and hit against the block.

Steps for Playing Volleyball - Wash Drills

When players are able to combine skills together - and being technically sound, players should be ready for the "wash drills" - drills in which coaches let two sides to compete against each other.

Actually, these advanced technical drills on this third step level are just similar to wash drills - we use them in the same manner - two sides are trying to score a point against each other.  However, there is a little difference.

Technical Volleyball Drills for Top Players

Volleyball players at the top level also focus on techniques in their training. It is not unusual to see professional volleyball players do "beginner's drills" by passing one ball after another when trying to develop passing drills.

Their technical drills are more complex and mimic the real game situations.  Often they combine skills just like in the game - i.e. passing combined with hitting against the block and defense. 

Weather doing "a beginner's drill" or "combined drill", the coach pays close attention to player's techniques - and gives immediate feedback for the player.

What is the difference? The rally is extremely short

When training technical drills in more complex situation, it is important to limit the rally and focus on the desired skill.  

If the focus is to learn passing combined with hitting, it is important players get to repeat the passing-hitting sequence one after another with a fast tempo - meaning the rally ends after the block or dig -  and the new ball is sent to the attacker.

Steps for Playing Volleyball - Fourth Step: Wash Drills and Games

When playes skills increase and are able to combine skills together they should be ready for the wash-drills.

Volleyball Wash Drills - Two Sides Competing

Coaches often use wash-drills to prepare team for the becoming matches. In wash drills two teams play against each other - for example the offensive side tries to score a point over the defensive side. Usually the stronger side (i.e. offense) is required to win more rallies than the weaker side (i.e. defense) to score a point - to keep the game competitive and even.

It is definitely exciting and sometimes beneficial to let the team "just play volleyball" for example by wash drills.  However, during the longer rallies especially beginning volleyball players tend to "forget" already learned techniques and tactics. That is the reason why we prefer drills which allow us to keep the rally relatively short.

Keeping the Rally Short on the Wash Drills

Technical volleyball drills descripbed in the third step are very similar to wash drills. Often we use scoring to keep points between the sides, so they are very close to wash drills. The difference is we don't let the rally continue too long - we repeat the specific action with a fast tempo one after another, but don't let the other side to play the ball back.

Steps for Playing Volleyball – Modern Volleyball is Fast - How to Learn to Play Fast Volleyball?

While teaching the volleyball skills it is good to keep in mind one major issue in today’s volleyball – the speed.

We are sure many of you have noticed how much speed of the game has increased in the 2000’s. If you have followed volleyball last time in 1990’s, you probably are shocked how fast the game has become these days.

It is evident the sets, both "quick sets to the middle" and "outside/right side sets" have become extremely fast, but have you noticed the serve receive is much quicker also?  The serve receive looks almost like a shoot nowadays when the goal is to play the ball for the setter as quickly as possible.

Steps for Playing Volleyball - Why the Game Is So Fast Today?
Let’s look at some reasons for today’s quick game..

One reason for today’s quick game is the players are taller.

  • Setters have become taller. They are able to play quicker game.
  • Big middle hitters are able to hit faster sets
  • Outside hitters need faster sets to hit past the bigger and bigger blockers
  • Extremely fast powerful jump serves are needed to break the opponent’s quick offense

Steps for Playing Volleyball – Speed Issue for Newcomers
This speed of the game is one big barrier for the volleyball newcomers.

One of the biggest obstacles when transferring from high-school volleyball to competitive college volleyball is the speed of the game. Many college volleyball coaches state this to be a major issue for incoming players. Often high school players are not prepared to play high speed game. In international volleyball there is similar jump when players are moving up from junior volleyball games to adult’s leagues.

College freshmen or international players moving to the adult’s leagues battle with the same issue – how to learn to play this fast game?

How volleyball players can be prepared for the Fast Game?

Steps for Playing Volleyball - How Beginning Volleyball Players Learn "the Fast Game"?

Challenge 1: Volleyball Jump Serve
One of the most important steps for playing volleyball at the top level is to learn jump serving - vast majority of the players jump serve a jump floater or a regular jump serve. Jump serves have become more and more powerful since they became popular in 1980’s.

Jump serve footwork should be taught on very early ages.  Jump serve itself is very complex for the beginning volleyball players, but the footwork itself can be introduced early. Learning jump serve footwork is especially important because it is very similar to volleyball spike approach. 

Also when working on jump serve, at the same time players will learn the swing 10 feet (3 meter) attack since those are very similar.

Notice! For beginning volleyball players it is the most beneficial to serve UNDERHANDED, since it allows longer rallies and increases contacts, which means players will learn volleyball quicker. However, jump serving footwork and techniques can be introduced, even if not used in the game or practice in the beginning.

Challenge 2: Volleyball Float Serve - Jump Float
In competitive volleyball jump float serves are extremely popular. Not very many players serve floaters without jump anymore.

Teaching jump float serve is as important as learning technique for regular jump serves.  Beginning volleyball players are most likely able to serve jump floaters before regular jump serves.

Challenge 3: Volleyball Passing - How to Pass Jump Serves?
Powerful serves are used against your own offense. How to learn to pass powerful serves?

When float serves and jump serves are introduced at early ages, players learn to use them in practice themselves, which also benefits the passers.  Teams which have strong jump serves normally don’t have problems passing powerful serves – since they are get used to pass those powerful serves in practice.

Even before players itself are not able to serve jump serves in the beginning, coaches should be serving jump serves with strong spins and jump floaters for the passers.

Challenge 4:  Fast Volleyball Offense - First Tempo Attack
Quick middle sets are much faster than before – taller and taller setters are able to dish the ball to hitters’ hands much faster.

Volleyball players should be taught to approach faster – to take faster steps on the approach.  It takes the player quicker to the position to hit the ball.

It also helps the player to jump higher – the more vertical speed player has, the higher s/he is able to reach.

Players should also be taught to hit faster “1-balls” from the beginning already.  It maybe too difficult to make happen in the match, but at least it should be practiced early.
Steps for Playing Volleyball - Common Issues with Volleyball Middle Hitters or Centers
Players usually have challenges on jumping at the correct spot when running for the “1-ball”. The attacker may run into the setter or be too far away.

Coach should pay special attention to teach middles to “read the pass” – so attacker knows exactly where the setter is - when approaching. 

How to Teach Approach?

It can be taught by varying the tossed ball for the setter. The coach could toss the ball a little bit in front of the setter, or behind the setter – sometimes a little bit off-the net – sometimes a higher pass – sometimes lower, etc.

Again, when “1-balls” are practiced in practice, naturally the team learns to block and dig them also.

Challenge 5: Volleyball Offense - 10 feet or Back Row Spikes
10 feet (3 meter) spikes at the center of the court are being hit almost simultaneously with the quick middle sets. 10 feet hits have become very popular because setters need more options to pass the big blockers.

Back court attack techniques for beginning volleyball players are very similar to jump serves, especially when younger players are not powerful enough to jump forward and hit 10 feet (3 meter) balls down.

When starting to learn jump serving techniques, it also helps to learn back row attack techniques – and wise versa.

Challenge 6: Volleyball Offense - Outside Sets and Right Side Sets
Not just middle sets or ten feet sets - also outside, right side attacks are fast.

When you look at the outside set at the top international level, there is hardly any arch on the ball – the ball just flies straight line from the setter’s hands as a shoot to the antenna.

Teaching setter to read the outside hitter – teaching setters to change the tempo depending on the hitter's approach.

Teaching outside and right side hitters (wing hitters) to swing faster sets.

To read more about training fast passing and setting, go to “volleyball drills” – page into the advanced drills section.

Challenge 7: Volleyball Serve Receive Techniques - Passing Fast
There have also been changes in serve receive. The passes look completely different than in the last decade – today the goal is to play the ball as fast as possible to the setter. The pass almost looks like a shoot. The pass has only a little arch on it.

Of course against the most powerful hard jump serves ball may have to be just “popped up” off the net, but the fast pass is the norm, if doable.

Players need various volleyball passing techniques – high passing position, low passing position, 3-point passing (knee on the ground), etc. 

Players also need to have skills to react fast for the serve - to pop the ball up by “playing defense” or preferably being able to pass a fast, controlled ball for the setter.

Steps for Playing Volleyball - How Setters and Passers Can Practice "Playing Fast"?

You find more detailed Steps for Playing Volleyball - information by going to the bottom of the "Volleyball Drills" -page to the "Advanced Volleyball Drills" -section.

For example there is an article "how setters and passers should practice cooperation and 'playing fast'?".

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