Wednesday, 22 May 2024

The Importance of Specificity in Volleyball Training



When it comes to training for volleyball, coaches need to understand the principle of specificity. Running long distances or using generic conditioning methods is not the most effective way to train for this sport. In this article, we will explore why specificity is crucial for volleyball training and how coaches can optimize their training programs to improve their players’ performance.

Understanding Specificity in Training

The principle of specificity states that training benefits are maximized when the activities replicate the movements and energy systems involved in the sport. In other words, there is no better way to train for volleyball than actually playing the game itself.

Dr. Carl McGown, an expert in motor learning, emphasizes the importance of specificity in training. He states that incorrectly designed training activities can have little to no carry-over value and may even have a negative influence on performance. Coaches should focus on teaching players how to play volleyball rather than training them to run long distances.

Learning from Successful Coaches

Anson Dorrance, renowned coach of the University of North Carolina women’s soccer team, has a philosophy that aligns with the principles of specificity. In his book, “Training Soccer Champions,” he emphasizes the importance of playing the game itself during the off-season. Conditioning should be treated as homework, not the primary focus of training.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  U.S. Men Sweep Cameroon at Worlds

Importance of Fundamental Skills

Dr. Richard Schmidt, an expert in motor learning, suggests that drills and lead-up activities should be used sparingly in later practice stages. Instead, coaches should concentrate on developing fundamental skills rather than focusing too much on conditioning. Training fundamental abilities such as quickness and balance should be secondary to mastering the essential skills of the game.

Balancing Conditioning and Skill Development

While conditioning is crucial at the highest levels of volleyball, skill and team play are often more critical at the medium to lower levels. Marv Dunphy, the legendary coach of the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team, understood this concept. In a season where he felt his team was behind in skill and teamwork, he prioritized gym training and play over conditioning. The results were impressive, proving that skill development can outweigh conditioning in certain contexts.

The Importance of Reading the Game

One of the most important skills in volleyball is reading the game, and conditioning does not directly contribute to this skill. Reading the flow of the game and anticipating player actions requires game play experience, not just drills. The specificity of game situations helps players develop this crucial skill. Additionally, left-handed players can pose unique challenges to opponents since most players are used to facing right-handed opponents.

Embracing Random Practice

Scientific research supports the notion that random practice is more effective for skill acquisition and transfer to competition. Schmidt and Lee have extensively reviewed the benefits of random practice in various sports, including volleyball.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  U.S. Finishes Strong in Fukuoka with Sweep of Tunisia

Random practice strengthens the brain connections responsible for learning motor skills, while repetitive activities have little impact on these connections. Coaches should embrace random practice methods to provide learners with the necessary environmental variability and sensory inputs for the formation of motor maps and implicit behaviors.


Q: How can coaches optimize their training programs for volleyball?

Coaches can optimize their training programs by prioritizing game play and skill development over generic conditioning methods. Emphasizing fundamental abilities and skills specific to volleyball, rather than focusing solely on physical conditioning, can lead to better player performance.

Q: What is the significance of reading the game in volleyball?

Reading the game is a crucial skill that allows players to anticipate and react to their opponents’ actions. It is a skill that can only be developed through game play experience and cannot be improved through conditioning alone.


To bring out the best in their players, coaches must understand and apply the principle of specificity in volleyball training. By prioritizing game play, skill development, and embracing random practice methods, coaches can optimize their training programs and help their players reach their full potential. For more information on volleyball training and resources, visit Alpinetgheep.