Volleyball Team Performance in Practice and Competition

by Erin
(Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

How to improve volleyball team performance in competition? My volleyball team does really good during drills and practice, but during competition it seems we forget everything. How can we remember the right skills we learned in competition as well as practice?

(Editor’s note: This is an excellent question, Erin. This will be great for all the future visitors. To all the readers: don’t be afraid to participate and add your valuable comments.)
Blocking in Volleyball - Tooling

Answer for Volleyball Team Performance in Practice and Competition:

This could be answered from several points of views. I am not going to talk about sports psychology. I approach this question from the skills and learning perspective.

Generally used metaphor in sports training is “skills go into the muscle memory”. That muscle memory contains hundreds or thousands different motor skills, which an athlete learns when practicing.

Athletes improve the specific skill (or motor skill) by repeating it over and over again. If the athlete is not consistent enough, s/he will eventually learn to be more consistent through repetitions. Some athletes will learn faster than the other ones.

Therefore the tip #1 is: give athletes as many repetitions as possible.

Tip #2: players need to perform those repetitions just like in the match, e.g. hitter needs to swing against the block and defense. When players practice hitting e.g. by coach tossing the ball or they do it without a block, the set up is quite different than in the match.Volleyball Setting Drills

This is very important!

Tip #3: Players need to focus 100% when they are working on the skill.
It helps players to put the skill in their "muscle memory".

When players focus on the technique when repeating it, it will help them to start “seeing a moving picture” in their minds how to perform the drill (read more: cognitive learning). If they just keep repeating the skill without really having their thoughts in it, it is difficult to see this correct image in their minds.

Moreover don’t let players lose their focus and get on the mindless repetition mode. If the drill is a longer one, keep changing it constantly, so the players stay alert. Communicate actively and constantly remind players to re-focus.

However, things are not that simple. There are other variables, like ability to play under pressure among other things, which may affect the performance in the match. Players learn to compete and handle the pressure by putting them in the pressure situations.

The tip #4: Play more and more matches.

Tip #5: Make players compete in practice. Using scoring and making players compete against each other in practice drills helps them to handle the pressure in the matches.

Keep the Ball Flying,

Coach at VolleyballAdvisors.com

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