Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Growing the Game: Unleashing the Power Within

By BJ LeRoy

As a coach, you’ve probably attended countless clinics where presenters showcase new drills. It’s only natural to want to jot down that one drill that will revolutionize your team’s performance. We often find ourselves asking high-level coaches about the magic drill that will fix our team’s woes. However, the truth is, the key to success lies beyond the drills themselves. It’s time to debunk some myths and uncover the real secrets of building championship teams.

The Myth of Magic Drills

It’s easy to believe that if we simply run the same drills as legendary coaches like Al Scates, we’ll achieve the same level of success. But blindly following their drills won’t automatically make us champions. The reality is, two great teams can run entirely different drills and still end up facing each other in the championship. So what really makes the difference?

Unleashing the Power of Common Principles

Instead of fixating on the drills themselves, we need to focus on a few core principles that underpin successful programs. These principles, when applied consistently, have the power to transform teams. Let’s explore a few of them:


Players must not only perform skills but also understand why they are doing them a certain way. It’s not enough to hear or see; they must do and understand. This deep level of comprehension fosters growth and mastery.

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To excel in the game, teams must practice exactly what they want to achieve on the court. It’s about mimicking the game situation by incorporating randomness into drills. Passing, setting, hitting, digging, and blocking odd scenarios should all be part of their training regimen.


Every team possesses its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Playing to these strengths, even if they’re not necessarily the players’ favorite skills, is the key to strategic success. Adaptability within drills, offering multiple options, is far more effective than an abundance of rigid drills. Additionally, teams should tailor their systems to suit the players available.

Continuous Learning

Even the most successful coaches continue to learn and evolve. They adapt their strategies based on new insights, player capabilities, and changing circumstances. Embracing a growth mindset and a hunger for improvement is a fundamental trait shared by winning coaches.

The Power of Teamwork

While these principles are crucial, they are most effective when the entire team is on the same page. Good teams develop systems for various in-game scenarios, such as siding out, playing in transition, serving, and defense. In these systems, teammates rely on each other and understand their roles intricately. This alignment allows them to adapt and perform at their best, regardless of the drill.

Some Drills Are Better Than Others…

Of course, certain drills are more effective than others. Game-like drills that incorporate randomness and mimic real match situations are invaluable. Championship teams focus on the “whys” behind the drills. By understanding the underlying concepts, players can elevate their performance in any drill.

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It’s important to recognize that success in volleyball is not solely achieved through the drills themselves. It’s the combined power of common principles, teamwork, and a thirst for continuous improvement that propels teams to greatness.


Q: Can drills alone make a team successful?
A: While drills play a role in training, they are just one piece of the puzzle. Success requires a holistic approach that incorporates core principles, teamwork, and continuous learning.

Q: How important is flexibility within a drill?
A: Flexibility within drills allows coaches to target specific areas of improvement while keeping the overall structure familiar to the team. It’s about finding the balance between variety and consistency.

Q: What if my team doesn’t possess superior talent?
A: While talent certainly helps, it’s not the only factor determining success. By focusing on core principles, teamwork, and adaptability, teams can maximize their potential and achieve great results.

Q: How can I foster a culture of continuous learning?
A: Encourage a growth mindset within your team. Emphasize the importance of staying curious, seeking new knowledge, and embracing change. Be an example by continuously learning and evolving.


The journey to building a winning team extends beyond the allure of magic drills. It’s about harnessing the power of common principles, promoting teamwork, and fostering a culture of continuous learning. By embracing these key elements, you can unlock your team’s true potential and strive for greatness.

This article is a rewritten interpretation of “Growing the Game: It’s Not the Drills” by BJ LeRoy published on the Badger Beacon newsletter. BJ LeRoy is part of the USAV CAP cadre and a coach from the Badger Region.

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