Coaching Youth Fooball - Football Plays
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MP123

Serving Skills/drills For Beginners

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I am new to coaching and we have a team of 13 girls 6th -8th grade (mainly 6th graders). We are a small school and this is our first team. None of the girls have ever played volleyball. We have had 6 practices and we are really struggling with serving underhand, let alone overhand. The girls want to toss the ball when serving underhand....and just "swing at it". We have tried demonstrating using our legs/shoulders/arms....the whole body to add power to help get it over the net, but it's not working yet. We have had them just practice tapping the ball out of their hand....focusing on not moving the "shelf" hand / not tossing the ball to serve. They can do that, but when they try to serve, they revert back to tossing the ball....every time they try to add some power, they automatically toss the ball. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get them to "not toss" the ball for the underhand serve, and to not just "swing" wild at it? We have a game in one week....and we have to play regulation for middle school. Adding to this, we only have the gym for practice 1 hour at a time, but 4x a week. Hard to get a lot done in an hour, so we are trying to be effective with our time. Any help is appreciated!

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MP,

On the plus side, when you are practicing serving, you can also practice serve receive. Since these two skills are about 80% of middle school scoring, at least you can get a lot out of your practice time.

For underhand serving, you might try getting your girls to think of pulling or dropping their hand out from under the ball, instead of tossing it. However, most of them will still use a very slight "toss" to put the ball in play. Hitting it out of the hand might give them the idea of not tossing, but it can also set them up for a serving fault - USAV 17.5.4 - ball not clearly tossed or released. To give your girls more attempts to serve correctly, have them stand 10-15 feet from a wall and serve into it. Don't forget to give them a spot or line on the wall as a target so they can quickly see for themselves whether they are getting better or not.

As an alternative, you might try having them serve side-arm. Sometimes you find that it is easier, and they may get a more powerful (top spin) serve.

One other suggestion regarding your practice time. For almost any skill, you can make a shortsided game played over the net, which will give all your players many more touches of the ball. Personally, I think 3 v 3 is the ideal number for any drill, plus short-sided games.

Hope you get more suggestions.

Let us know how it (does or doesn't) works.

john

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MP,

I don't know why it didn't cross my mind to tell you before, but USAVolleyball Education has produced a pretty fair CD entitled "Standing Serves" that could be really helpful to you. It has detailed analysis of underhand, sidearm, roundhouse, overhead floater, and overhead topspin serves which includes not only front and side video strips, but also stage by stage still shots. It sure beats me trying to descirbe them. Again, I think you might be surprised with the success your players can have with the sidearm serve. I believe you can find, and order it from www.usavolleyball.org.

Hope this helps.

john

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