Updated: Jun 20, 2020
To any volleyball players out there who were in the middle of their season until this pandemic struck- I feel you! COVID-19 has put a billion sports seasons around the world on hold, so now we're all left with one question: How can we keep practicing and getting better for when this is all over? Lucky for you, you've found this blog post, where we have developed a 100% guaranteed get-your-money-back if it doesn't work method to not only be able to get your reps in and stay in shape, but to improve tremendously and come back to the next season as a new player!
PSA: These drills are meant for all ages! Anyone can do these drills, and it will benefit everyone, no matter whether you're a college volleyball player or just starting your volleyball adventure!
Drills (WITHOUT) a ball:
Find yourself an spacious area and mark four corners with a number(1,2,3,4), and start in the middle of your self created square. Then you can either pull up a random number generator, get a parent or sibling to say numbers, or just make them up yourself, and shuffle to each corner per number, making sure to stay low and keep proper posture the whole time. You can do this for 30 seconds and then take a break and repeat as many times as you want, speeding up your shuffling and the number generating if you want it to be even harder!
2. Diving, Rolling, and Pancakes
Quarantine is a great time to put some extra emphasis on your diving, pancaking, and rolling technique! To practice these, all you need is some space and a soft floor where you won't get hurt: you can practice on a a field of grass, or even your living room! If you haven't dived in a while, you can go through it slowly at first to remind yourself of the technique and then start getting faster and faster, adding elements such as the roll and then once you feel comfortable, you can start further away, giving yourself room for a running start, and eventually add an actual ball.
(If you need some help learning the technique of a dive or need a quick refresher, ElevateYourself has great videos that clearly explain each step: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdW_fKLPxgM&t=236s)
Drills (WITH) a ball:
1. Passing against a wall
This is a super simple drill; all you ned is to find a ball, find a wall, choose a certain target on the wall and keep passing against it! Set yourself a goal for a certain amount of passes, and make sure to stay in good posture while performing this drill- since it's an easier drill, you might get lazy and start standing up, (I know I do!) but make sure to stay mindful and work on having good technique so that you don't create bad habits!
2. Passing to yourself
This drill is super simple as well, all you need is a ball and yourself! The key to this one is staying disciplined and keeping good passing posture while doing the drill- anyone can pass to themselves and keep the ball in the air, but it's much harder to also try to maintain good technique. Try setting a goal, like getting 20 in a row to motivate yourself.
You can also advance this drill and make it harder for yourself by mixing it up with different types of passes, for example:
1. Doing a short pass and then a high pass and alternating
2. Alternating between doing a pass and then a set
3. Shuffling between two cones while you pass
4. Start standing up and slowly kneel down and touch one knee to the floor, and keep repeating while passing
3. One Arm Touches
Of course, it is always best to get both hands on the ball, but there will be situations when you have to be able to get the ball up with only one, and these drills are great practice for that! They will also help develop your ball control. Here are some different one arm touch drills:
1. Bouncing the ball on your right arm
2. Bouncing the ball on your left arm
3. Alternating between bouncing the ball on your right arm and your left arm
If you've mastered the above drills and want something a bit more fun and difficult, you can even mix all of the different passing techniques together and impress your friends and family with your superb ball control by mastering this task: passing to yourself, setting to yourself, passing with your left arm, passing with your right arm, bouncing the ball on your left knee, and bouncing the ball on your right knee, and bouncing it off your head!
4. Diving, Rolling, and Pancakes: Add a ball!
This can be done practically anywhere, indoors OR outdoors- just make sure you have kneepads or you're on a soft area if you're going to do this outside!
For this drill you will need another person: get a parent or sibling to drop a ball in front of you, start an approximate distance away from them and as they are dropping the ball, step, pass the ball, dive, roll out of it, and repeat! You can also work on your pancake.
You can start closer to the ball/your parent at first, and then slowly begin starting further back to make it harder and force yourself to speed up your dive.
(If you want to work on your diving technique before introducing a real ball, refer back to the Passing Drills Without a Ball section!)
Drills (without) a ball:
1. Throwing a sock
This may sound weird at first, but trust me, it's a great way to practice your wrist snap and your arm speed! This is one of my favorite hitting drills because it can be done anywhere, even in your house, and it's a sound-free (and breaking-your-mother's-favorite-vase-free) method.
How this works is you take a sock, fold/scrunch it into a ball shape, and get down on one knee. Then, you throw the sock in front of you over your right shoulder (using both hands to toss), pull your hitting arm back, swing through and snap your wrist, and then catch the sock with your dominant hitting arm as you are swinging through. This drill develops the speed and mechanics of your elbow pulling back, as well as getting your body used to the motion of swinging through the ball. If you aren't able to catch the sock the first couple times, don't get frustrated! This drill takes getting used to and lots of practice to be able to master, but once you do, I promise your hitting will improve tremendously!
Practicing your approach is a great and easy way to improve your hitting. Your approach is a huge part of your hit, and there's many things that you should focus on, (almost too many!): the explosive power of your jump, the speed of your legs, the speed of your arms, the arm swing, where your last 2 steps are facing, and so many more! It's impossible to cover everything at once, so try to focus on one at a time: Everyone has their own struggles and old habits to break with their approach, so while you're going through this, make sure you choose one main thing to focus and and are paying attention to that one thing.
1. Go through ONLY the last two steps of your approach (without jumping at the end)
The last two steps of your approach are the steps in which you swing your arms back and up, and doing the last two steps really lets you focus on perfecting that arm swing. The speed of the arm swing can make or break a hit, so make sure you're bringing your arms back fast and not making any unnecessary up-down-back-sideways motions. Your arms should go straight BACK on the second to last step, and then UP, elbow pulled back and arm up in the air ready to hit on the last step.
2. Go through the last three steps of your approach (without jumping)
Once you feel ready, add another step to the approach! This newly added step should be your largest step.
3. Combine it all together and practice your full 4 step (or 3 step, whatever you do!) approach, adding the jump and arm swing
Go through the whole thing, putting together everything you've learned! The total speed of the approach should go from slow to fast, and from larger steps to smaller steps.
Remember, according to the laws of the universe, momentum=mass x velocity, so the faster you do your approach, the more momentum you will generate, and therefore power your hit will have. (The laws of the universe don't lie!)
3. Arm swing
Find a mirror, stand in front of it, and repeat only your arm swing. (Mirrors aren't necessary, but having one in front of you can really help you see what you are doing right or wrong!) When practicing the arm swing, make sure to pay attention to keeping the elbow of your dominant hitting hand high and back, "contacting the ball" and starting the snap at the highest point (when your arm is practically straight and in front of you), keeping your non-hitting arm up in the air and bringing it down forcefully as you swing through, snapping your wrist, and swinging all the way through.
4. Throwing a tennis ball
This drill helps you develop your wrist snap and swing through motion. For this drill, you take your full approach jump and arm swing, but hold a tennis ball in your hitting arm while you go through it, and at the peak of your height, release the tennis ball as if you're hitting a ball and swing through. (This drill works really great if you have a net you can use, since you can have a general height estimate, but if you don't it's totally do-able too! Just find a clear open space and do the exact same thing but without a net.)
Drills (with) a ball:
1. Throwing ball at a wall
Knowing how to throw is an essential skill for hitters, and also a great way to warm up your arm! To do this drill, find a wall, get a ball, start a safe distance away from the wall and (overhand) throw the ball at the wall. This may sound a bit dull or boring, but throwing is an extremely similar movement to hitting and will help your body remember the motion. Remember to implement body rotation by leaning into the throw and twisting your hips for more power as you throw.
2. The Stationary Snap
This drill helps you develop the motion of a fast wrist snap. Start by sitting down on the floor with a ball in front of you. The ball should be stationary on the floor. Slap the ball with only your wrist, and keep doing it until you are able to get the ball to bounce. This is much harder than it looks and takes a lot of practice, but once you are able to get it you will greatly improve the wrist snap during your hit.
3. The Crocodile
Tired of paint-brushing the ball? This drill will help you get a great contact on the ball every time! To do this drill, get a ball, hold it in your non-dominant hand and extend that arm straight in front of you at about the level of your face. Then, pull back your hitting arm and swing through, slapping the ball. (This drill is called the crocodile because the motion of your arm swing should end up looking like crocodile jaws opening and closing!) Make sure you're hitting the top of the ball every time, as well as straight in the middle of the ball- Don't be sloppy and hit the sides of the ball!
To make this drill more difficult/ realistic, you can keep raising the level of your ball + non-dominant hand, forcing your contact to become higher. The higher it is, the harder it will be, but the better practice it will be as well, because in a real situation, you want to contact the ball at it's highest point!
4. The Rolling Snap
This drill is super simple, all you need is a ball! This drill helps you work on your wrist snap, and can also really help with roll-shotting (as well as normal hitting of course!) if you're into beach volleyball. To do this, throw the ball in the air, snap your wrist underneath the ball, and keep going to see how many you can get in a row!
Once you master this, you can make the drill more difficult by alternating arms, (eg: going from left to right), or being on two knees while doing this!
Some common mistakes people make when doing this drill is "slapping" the ball rather than putting a spin on it, or tighten their wrists- don't fall into that trap! Keeping the ball alive and in the air is great, but that's not what's important: you want to focus on keeping your wrist loose and relaxed like you would in a normal hit, and make an exaggerated snap motion to get underneath and over the ball to give the ball as much spin as possible. This will be very hard to get used to at first, but the more you practice, the more you'll be able to get in a row and the better your wrist motion will be during your actual hitting!
5. Hitting at a wall
This drill is just like you would do when warming up for a game, except instead of hitting at the floor with your pepper partner, you're going to be hitting at the wall! Throw the ball, (with either one or two hands, whatever's easiest for you) pull back your hitting arm, and hit the ball at the floor, letting it bounce off the wall to come back to you. Make sure to pay attention to your technique and introduce factors such as using your hip rotation to generate power, keeping your elbow high, back, and loaded, swinging through the ball and speeding up your arm swing.
Once you've mastered just normally hitting at the wall, try to do multiple hits in a row! This is great for ball control, and can really help with working on the "pulling your hitting arm back/ keeping your elbow back and high" aspect of hitting that lots of people struggle with!
**Outside of these smaller hitting drills, if you happen to have access to a net or even have your own backyard court, one of the best and most realistic game like ways to practice hitting is to have your parents or siblings throw balls or set for you while you practice hitting! If not, that's okay too- these drills work just as well!
1. High Five The Wall (for float serves)
This is a really easy drill that you don't even need a ball for: all you need is yourself and some kind of wall! To perform this drill, start standing close to the wall, about an arm's length away, get into serving position, pull your dominant serving hand back, and high five the wall as if you were about to serve and contact the ball! This will help you learn to freeze high and contact the ball at it's highest point during your serve, which will make your float much more deadly and powerful.
2. Serve at the wall
Measure out approximately a court's length away from the wall, choose a spot on the wall that you want to aim at and serve! You can practice any type of serve you want with this system, and even switch it up: standing float, jump float, jumping topspin, and more!
If you've mastered this skill and want to combine passing with serving to practice a bit of serve receive, while also testing the difficulty of being on the receiving end of one of your serves, you can move closer to the wall and pass your serves as they bounce off the wall.
There are lots of options for working out depending on what you're trying to achieve!
Stamina: Running, running, running! If there are any open tracks where you live, you can run a couple loops on those- if not, you can go on runs around your neighborhood! Morning runs are a great way to start off your day.
Abs: Six words: Chloe Ting's 2-Week Ab Shred. Outside of the ab shred, Chloe Ting is one of my favorite workout channels and has a lot of great workout videos for all sorts of things! If you're the type of person who likes creating their own workout rather than following youtube videos, here are some of the ab workout exercises that I've found most effective. You can combine these exercises to create your own workout routine: deadbugs, russian twists, flutter kicks, planks, plank up and down's, pushups, and curl-ups.
Vertical: Now is a great time to work on increasing your vertical, especially if you're on the short side! If you're lucky enough to have a jumping box, make sure you utilize that and try to jump on it at least once a day. If not, there are many DIY things you can do- everyone has some sort of platform or curb near them, either indoors or outdoors, that they can jump on. Outside of actual physical jumping, there are many other exercises that you can do to increase your vertical: toe lifts, squats, jump squats, jump rope, squat toe lifts, long jumps (jumps for distance), jumps for height. Feel free to choose your favorites from the list, or add your own, and create your own vertical workout routine!
FUN COMBO DRILLS
1. Recreating TikToks
Something I've personally had a lot of fun doing this Quarantine is finding volleyball TikToks and trying to recreate them! It's a super fun way to work on your volleyball skills- and possibly even getting TikTok famous in the process. There are many videos out there that can really help you advance your ball control, such as setting or passing to a certain beat. Here are a couple that you can start with:
2. Pepper with your wall
Combine all the skills you've been working on, plus mix in a bit of ball control by holding a pepper session with your wall! There are many different ways to do this drill, but personally, I like to serve at the wall, pass my serve, set to myself, hit at the wall, dig that hit, set to myself, and so on until the ball drops. Try to set a certain goal for yourself to see how many you can get in a row, and keep increasing the power of your hit as you get better at this drill! You can also mix it up and add some tips or roll shots rather than just hitting all of them.
3. Bump set and tip to yourself
This drill is just like passing to yourself, but combined with the elements of setting and tipping! This drill is great for ball control and lets you work on three skills all at once.
4. Teach your family to play
Try teaching your parents to hit or serve at you so you can practice your defense/serve receive, or even just teach them to throw balls or set for you so you can practice your hitting! If they get really good, you can even start peppering with them, and if you have a court in your backyard, or an open public court in near vicinity, you can enjoy a friendly family game of volleyball.
5. Teach your dog to play.
Two words: this video. This dog is a rising star! New USA Volleyball Player incoming?
I hope these tips and drills can help you out and get you some more volleyball reps during Quarantine! If you decided to try any of these exercises, want to see a Part 2, or want to share some of your own favorite practice methods, or have any questions, feel free to comment below with how it went for you!
PSA: These drills were NOT made up by QuaranTEEN- They're just a list of drills that we have gathered over the years from different coaches and clubs and have found to be the most helpful in improving your skills!