Coach's Guide to Creating Practice Goals

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

We all know that volleyball is a game of mistakes. Roughly 75 percent of the points scored in a high school match are decided by preventable mistakes: touching the net, hitting the ball out, lifts, serving errors, passing a ball too tight, confusion, etc.

As coaches we should try to help our players reduce the number of mistakes they make so that:

  • We don't give away quite as many points which;
  • Forces the opponent to execute more kills, aces & blocks in order to score.

If we can reduce the percentage of points that we give our opponents to 65 percent, then we will win every close game.

How can we reduce the number of mistake our team is making? At practice!! We drill and drill and drill on what makes our girls better players, and what helps our team play better team ball.

That's why I try to come to practice each night with specific goals for that practice and with specific drills to accomplish those goals. Here are some examples of little goals for your practices:

  • Better right side/setter transition
  • OH's hitting linec
  • Losing the block
  • Getting the dig up
  • Passing floaters
  • Back setting
  • Back row attacking
  • Making sure we dig the line shot
  • Covering
  • Making sure we pick up the tips

And these are what I just thought of in a few moments. Usually, I decide on the goals of my practices by watching some video. After about 15 minutes of watching our last match, scrimmage or practice, I can say, "We really have to get better at x, y and z."

Let me look at last year's u15's club practice plans. What were some of our goals during our 2nd week of practice?
  • MB's hitting the ball (they were tipping and scared to hit!)
  • Our opposite hitting the ball (I'd converted her from a setter to a priority serve receiver and right side hitter)
  • Understanding our defensive responsibilities. In other words, whose ball is whose! (We had 11 girls from six different schools. We HAD to develop defensive chemistry!)
  • Short serving & serving floaters
  • Should we run quicks in the middle? or "2's"?

Finally: Having goals at practice is essential. Otherwise, your team is like a rudderless, captainless ship. And you will spend a lot of time complaining, "When are the girls going to learn how to perform x and y?" If I'm around, I may answer, "They'll learn it as soon as you drill it correctly!"

Coach Tom Houser is director of STAR Volleyball Camps as well as author of the “I Can’t Wait” Drill Collection and Ebooks. For more info check out

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