Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Irrelevant Training

This article aims to address the misconception surrounding the importance of gamelike drills in training. Contrary to the belief of some coaches, these drills are not irrelevant or unnecessary. In fact, they are principle-driven and play a crucial role in developing essential skills, such as reading the game and making split-second decisions.

The Significance of Gamelike Drills

In both personal experience and extensive research, the principle of specificity in training emerges as a fundamental aspect. As coaches, our goal should be to create an environment that closely resembles real game scenarios. However, it’s important to acknowledge the time limitations we face when teaching all aspects of the game.

Let’s consider the example of ball slapping, a traditional coaching method used to train players in free ball transition work. Instead of perpetuating this tradition, we should reassess its effectiveness. Coaches who adhere to this approach inadvertently train their players to be late in retreating from the net. Consequently, when these players exhibit the same behavior during a game, coaches direct blame towards them without recognizing their own responsibility in the matter.

The Flaws in Traditional Coaching Methods

Backing off from the net as the ball approaches is not an effective strategy. It limits the players’ ability to identify crucial game situations, such as a free ball or the need to block a second contact. Instead, players should remain close to the net until the second ball contact indicates a free ball is likely. This allows them to read the game and react accordingly, considering factors like the height and technique of the opposing player.

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The Path to Effective Coaching

To foster effective, creative, and skillful players who can confidently handle third-ball contacts, coaches must adopt alternative methods. Rather than slapping or throwing the ball themselves, coaches should focus on teaching players to send the ball over the net in a game-like manner. This approach not only simulates real-game scenarios but also encourages players to develop their decision-making abilities and adapt to different situations.

By providing opportunities for players to make gamelike responses, we maximize their learning potential. Furthermore, this approach allows coaches to move freely, observe, and provide guidance without interrupting the flow of the exercise.


In conclusion, gamelike drills are far from irrelevant. They are an integral part of training, helping players develop essential skills and read the game effectively. Coaches who embrace this approach and prioritize the principles of specificity in their training programs will undoubtedly witness improved performance from their players.


Q: Why are gamelike drills important in training?

A: Gamelike drills are essential in training because they closely resemble real-game scenarios, helping players develop crucial skills and make accurate decisions in a competitive environment.

Q: How do traditional coaching methods hinder player development?

A: Traditional coaching methods, such as ball slapping, can inadvertently teach players ineffective habits, leading to technical flaws. Coaches who focus on these methods may fail to recognize their role in hindering player growth.


Gamelike drills play a significant role in training athletes. These drills are principle-driven and aid in the development of essential skills, particularly in reading the game and making precise decisions within seconds. Traditional coaching methods, such as ball slapping, have their limitations and can impede player progress. Coaches should prioritize creating a gamelike environment that allows players to develop their decision-making abilities and respond effectively in various game situations. By embracing the principles of specificity and providing ample opportunities for players to learn and adapt, coaches can enhance their players’ performance and overall game comprehension.

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To learn more about effective coaching strategies and further improve your training programs, visit