Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Teach Novice Players the Love of Volleyball

John Kessel with youth players in Germany

Olympic Day is just around the corner, and as school winds down and camp season approaches, it’s the perfect time to introduce new players to the joy of volleyball. In this article, we’ll explore some effective ways to teach beginners the unique and challenging sport of volleyball while ensuring they have fun along the way.

Start with “Superhero, Superhero, Spike”

When introducing beginners to volleyball, it’s important to focus on the fundamentals and make it enjoyable. Instead of starting with the forearm pass, which can be difficult for beginners, try incorporating a game like “Superhero, Superhero, Spike” or “unicorn, unicorn, swing.” By emphasizing the overhead pass, set, and attack, kids can develop their eye-to-hand coordination before diving into more technical skills.

Starting with games that involve slapping, spiking, or grabbing and holding the ball allows kids to experience the joy of playing volleyball. As they continue playing, they can gradually learn ball shaping, improve their ball delivery, and eventually master hitting from anywhere on the court.

Start hitting from well off the net every session

Many coaches make the mistake of placing young or short players right on the net when they first start spiking, resulting in poor form and limited success. To avoid this, it’s crucial to teach beginners the higher-level back row calls, beginning with the lowest set known as a “Bic” on the USA national teams.

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When introducing volleyball to schools, explain to the students that these sets from the back row are Olympic-level techniques. By starting with the “Bic” set, players can have more success and reduce the risk of injuries caused by being too close to the net. This approach allows beginners to focus on developing their jumping and landing skills while gradually improving their setting accuracy.

Teach a version of torque serving before they leave

Before the end of the session, introduce beginners to serving, a skill they can practice on their own. While underhand serving is a suitable option for the youngest players, consider teaching a sidearm or overhead torque serve. This type of serve utilizes shoulder turn and torque, allowing players to generate more power.

Starting with torque serving helps players understand the importance of utilizing their core movement. As they progress and feel more comfortable, they can transition to more traditional overhead serves, including jump serving. By starting with torque serving, beginners can develop a solid foundation and gradually incorporate more advanced serving techniques.

Stop standing in line

To keep beginners engaged and excited, avoid activities that lead to boredom, such as standing in line. Instead, opt for small-side courts and doubles or triples games. This approach allows players to have more opportunities to participate and learn by doing.

You can also introduce variations like ribbon, rope, or the USAV Four-Nets-On-a-Rope to encourage playing over a net. Additionally, playing with a beach ball or other lightweight balls provides a fun and low-impact experience for beginners. By creating a more interactive and dynamic learning environment, players are more likely to enjoy the game and continue playing.

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Introduce recess, wall, basement, and tennis and racquetball games

To help beginners develop their skills further, encourage them to engage in volleyball-related activities outside of formal training sessions. These activities can include playing games like Winner Stays On/Loser Becomes the Net with friends or family, using a wall to practice hitting over a mark at net height, or playing balloon ball in the basement or living room.

Playing balloon ball can also be an excellent way to introduce beginners to sitting volleyball. Additionally, if there’s no space available at home, suggest playing doubles in a racquetball court or using a local tennis court with temporary lines and a makeshift net. These alternative playing environments provide a unique and enjoyable experience for beginners.


Q: How can I encourage my school to prioritize volleyball?

A: If you want your school to give volleyball the attention it deserves, consider suggesting the volleyball STEM kits to teachers in elementary and middle schools. These kits can be purchased using STEM grant money and can be used for both beach volleyball and ParaVolley. Afterward, they can be given to the P.E. teacher, providing them with nearly 20 volleyballs to use in their classes.

Q: Do you have any other tips for helping beginners fall in love with volleyball?

A: If you have any effective ideas for giving novices a great start and fostering their love for the sport, we’d love to hear them! Share your tips in the comments below, and let’s continue growing the game together.

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Teaching novice players the love of volleyball is all about fostering a positive and enjoyable learning environment. By focusing on the fundamentals, incorporating fun games and activities, and providing opportunities for individual practice, beginners can develop their skills while falling in love with the sport. Remember, it’s not just about teaching the game; it’s about instilling a lifelong passion for volleyball.