Hey Jude – Basics

For my first column I thought I’d avoid a really technical exploration of a specific skill or tactic and try to give you some general ideas that should contribute to your improvement in volleyball. I have been coaching a pretty inexperienced (in volleyball) group of adults lately, and they make some classic mistakes. They have also made a rapid improvement. These are some things they used to do wrong:
1. Body Position – Many players tend to stand up when they are not “in” the play. This is simple to fix, and when an entire team is able to fix it, the results are remarkable. The most important idea here is that “you are never not in the play“. If you are on the court, you have a responsibility to your teammates to be ready. “Ready” means weight forward, knees bent, feet wider than shoulder width apart. “Ready” means “prepared to move”. As a simple test, whenever the ball touches the floor on your side of the net, look down and see if you were “ready”.

2. Next Job – There is a lot of excitement when a ball is in the air…people want to get it. A good volleyball player is a thinker. In order to be effective yourself, and to contribute to your team’s effectiveness, you must remember what your next job is. If you are serving, your next job is defense. If you stand at the service line putting body english on your serve to help it go over, you’ve forgotten your next job. If you are passing, your next job is hitting unless your setter calls for help. If you are repeatedly colliding with your setter, you have lost track of your next job. If you’re not clear on your next job, email me and we’ll straighten it out.

3. Communication – You know those people who are compelled to tell you about their bathroom regularity (like you care) at work, or in social situations? What’s your response? “Too much information!” right? Well, in volleyball, there’s no such thing. The biggest mistake you can make is to play quietly. Call everything. It can’t hurt to talk, but it can hurt if two people collide because no one said anything. I just composed a list but it was long, convoluted and not easy to read. Tell your teammates everything, from calling out where the setter is before the play to how many blockers your hitter has. The more communication your team has, the more they’ll be inclined to use that information (you hope).

That’s enough for now, email me any questions on this or any volleyball topic.

Play hard,


Next Article: Set and Pass High