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General Volleyball Coaching

Volleyball requires skills of mobility, balance and jumping. Focus on teaching the following skills:

  • Serving
  • Forearm Passing
  • Overhead Passing (Setting)
  • Hitting
  • Blocking

Teaching players to toss the ball properly will be some of the best time ever spent. Once players can toss the ball properly, you'll have more time to coach and instruct.


Tossing is important, yet often overlooked, part of running effective drills. Tossing the ball with no spin makes learning and performing other new skills much easier. Once players learn to toss, they can run their own drills under your supervision.


With your feet shoulder-width apart, demonstrate a soft, two-handed toss from below the waist to a partner who catches it just above the head. Emphasize that there is no spin on the ball and the toss is high and soft. Have each player practice this with a partner who is about 10 feet away. This will take a lot of practice so be patient.


Besides putting the ball in play, the serve can be an effective way for a team to score points quickly. A good server can boost his or her team to victory. The server may choose to server underhand or overhand. In youth volleyball, the server is usually better off mastering the underhand serve first.

Underhand Serve

The underhand serve allows beginning players to put the ball in play. It is easier to master control than the overhead serve because it doesn't involve a toss.

The player should start with their weight on the back foot and the ball held in front of the toe by the nonhitting hand. The eyes should be focused on the ball until contact made with the heel of the hand. Transfer weight from the back to the front foot as the arm swings to contact the ball. Follow through with the hitting arm toward the top of the net. The hitting arm and back leg should be in line with the follow through.

Overhand Serve

The overhead serve is mor challenging for beginning players because it requires being able to toss consistently. The toss is the key to successful overhead serving. A ball tossed to high, to low, too far in front, or to far in back will cause the server to chase the toss and move out of alignment. The ball should always be in front of the hitting shoulder. Have players focus on the toss until it becomes consistent on each repetition.

The player should point their body at the target area and keep their weight on the back opposite leg from the ball. The elbow of the hitting arm should be at about ear level and away from the head. The toss should be 12 to 18 inches above the extended tossing hand and in front of the hitting shoulder. Weight should move forward as the shoulders and hips come through and the player prepares to contact the ball. The heel of the hand should contact the ball with the arm fully extended and the wrist stiff. The hitting arm should swing fast. The hitting arm should follow behind the hitting leg and not cross in front of the body after making contact.

Forearm Passing
The forearm pass is for receiving serves and spikes, for digging balls that are no more than waist high, and for playing any ball that has gone into the net. There is no swing of the arm to the ball but rather the player allows the ball to come to their arms.

The forearm pass begins with a good ready position. Have your players stand with their feet shoulder width apart, toes turned in slightly, and the right foot just slightly ahead of the left. As they bend at the waist and flex the knees, their weight should shift slightly forward onto the balls of their feet. They should keep their heads up and follow the ball while keeping their knees bent and their weight over the balls of their feet. The palms and thumbs of the hands should be facing close together and pointed towards the floor. The arms are extended away from the body in about a 45 degree angle. Prior to contact flex the legs. After contact, the arms follow through and direct the ball to the target.

Overhead Pass

The overhead pass is any pass contacted above the players head. The best known overhead pass is the set, which is usually the second contact made in setting up an attack. The players should stand with their feet shoulder width apart, the right foot slightly in front of the left. The knees are bent slightly and the weight is on the balls of the feet. The players should raise and cup their hands above the forehead, waiting for the ball. The wrists are cocked back and the fingers are spread and relaxed, four to eight inches from the forehead, as if holding a volleyball. Contact the ball in the middle of the forehead, the pads of the fingers, not the palm, should contact the ball. Whenever possible the player should square their shoulders to the target. As contact is made, the player extends the arms and legs up.

Once your players have the skills to set up a teammate for an attack (spike), they will enjoy the excitement that great team play generates. Spiking is the primary skill used to attack the ball, and it is usually the third contact in the three-contact offense.

The hitter (spiker) must be several steps from the net to have room for an approach to hit the ball explosively. The player should be standing in a relaxed position with arms comfortably at the sides. They should be at the side of the court, about 8 to 12 feet back off the net, waiting for the set.

The most common attack approach is a four-step pattern. Left-handed players start step 1 with the left foot, right-handed players begin with the right foot. The player needs to explode from step 2 to step 3 to set up the quick foot plant into the jump. The arms extend and swing straight back, as high as possible on the third step. As the fourth step begins, the arms drive forward in a full sweeping motion to help drive the player off the ground to attack the ball. In contacting the ball think of the arm as a whip and the hand as the tip of that whip. The snap of the whip begins in the shoulder. The elbow of the hitting hand should be drawn back, high and away from the shoulder. As contact is made, the hand should be firm and open, hitting the top half of the ball with the palm. Contact the ball at the one to two o'clock position. Follow through quickly. In the follow through the arm should remain on the same side of the body. The player can not touch the net with any part of the body.

Good blocking involves ability in timing and in reading the offensive hitter's intentions. Players should understand that regardless of size, all players can play an effective role as a blocker. The objective in blocking is to block a hard-driven spike back into the opponent's court or to deflect it high into the air on the blocker's side of the court. Without the block, an offensive team's spike will most likely earn a point or a side out. Players should stand facing the net with their hands held shoulder width apart at head level. The hands should be open with fingers spread and the palms facing the net. The knees are slightly bent and the weight is on the balls of the feet. As the blocker jumps to block, the hands should surround and smother the ball. The blocker's fingers are spread and angled to deflect the ball toward the floor. The hands do not waive or flail at the ball. The blocker moves along the net in a step-close-step footwork pattern. The feet do not cross. Players should stay away from the net and off the center line. In most cases the blocker should jump after the attacker.


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