Category Archives: Volleyball Drills
Where did it come from?
The concept of the competitive cauldron is an adaptation made by Anson Dorrance of Deans Smiths record and stat keeping program, both coaches at the University of North Carolina. If you don’t know about UNC soccer, find out about it and read some more material from Anson Dorrance.
Where most people are hearing of it now is from Gold Medal Squared Coaching Clinics. Dr. Carl McGown, former BYU men’s volleyball coach led BYU to become one of the elite volleyball teams in the nation using the competitive cauldron. Since his use there, he has modified and simplified the program and made it more readily available through his Gold Medal Squared Company.
Does it work? Yes. It makes your practices more competitive and teaches young athletes to compete.
What Is The Competitive Cauldron Used For?
It is nothing more than a tool for coaches and athletes to measure improvement and individual and team output. By keeping track of results, it allows volleyball coaches and volleyball players to know how well they perform in a competitive environment. It also allows coaches to understand what needs to be focused on in practices.
Every coach knows an athlete that performs better in games than they do in practice. Sometimes I have had years where all of my players perform better in games than in practice, while other I have had players that perform best in practice and fail when game time comes around.
By using the competitive cauldron in practices, you teach game players to practice hard and practice players to not fail in competitive situations.
One of my favorite parts about the competitive cauldron is that it shows you as a coach how well you are doing. You may have spent 40 to 50% of your practices last week working on serve receive. If your coaching is getting through to your volleyball players, you will see an improvement in the competitive cauldron in that area. Many times as coaches, we say…”we have gone over that so many times.” But if the athletes haven’t learned it yet, we must continue to teach it and likely we need to change the way that we are teaching it so that they players better understand.
I have included a competitive cauldron worksheet in the resources section of the website. The competitive cauldron spreadsheet should make it easier for you to make correct coaching decisions and win more volleyball games. Part 2 of my guide to Fast Results -The Competitive Cauldron.
I wanted to get out these Competitive Cauldron spreadsheets so that you can use them in practices and tryouts.
Later I plan on giving a full review of how to use the competitive cauldron in practice and how I use the competitive cauldron to determine certain coaching decisions.
Although these spreadsheets are not published by GMS (Gold Medal Squared) I believe they are similar if not exactly what they use.
Included in the “Competitive Cauldron Spreadsheet” are some competitive practice games or what would be considered similar to Gold Medal Squared drills.
Here are your download links…(just click and choose where to save)
Competitive Cauldron – including games (multiple spreadsheets, see tabs at bottom)
Competitive Cauldron Assessment – Coaches evaluating players – Great for tryouts!
3’s Volley Tournament – Just enter your players names and print it!
In my email this morning I received a drill from a “popular” volleyball drills for coaches, resource.
The drill was original and creative but lacked some critical elements required to train young volleyball athletes.
The drill consisted of 3 lines of tossers, multiple hitters and at least 6 players are involved in the drill. While an email can’t tell you exactly how to run every aspect of your practice, I want to address certain considerations that weren’t specifically mentioned in the email I received.
The first problem is that there are tossers! If you have been reading any of my articles you should know by now that we need to eliminate tossers! In a real game of volleyball there are no tossers. I realize that eliminating tossing from your practice may create a huge change in what you teach and how you teach it. Let me give a transitional idea as you work to more game-like practices. Instead of simply tossing the ball, have your players at the very least, toss the ball to themselves, and then set the ball to where they normally would toss the ball. This is a first step. Ideally, every ball that was going to be set, would come from a passer and every pass would come from an attacker or server.
The next problem I see is that only 6 players were involved. If you have a typical team of 12, this leaves 6 athletes as ball shaggers. This is not a very important game skill. We need to get the other 6 involved. The obvious solution would be to set up a defense of 6 players on the opposite side of the net. This drill moved fast and would probably not work as well with a defense, and blockers may be a better option. 3 blockers at the net and only 3 shaggers would improve your team training by 25%!
This is how great volleyball coaches consistently produce great volleyball teams!
If you can consistently improve your volleyball drills by 25% over your competition, your team will improve 25% faster than the next team. It is that simple!
Lastly, although similar to the previous suggestion, adding blockers or defense makes the drill more game-like. Very rarely in a game will an attacker not have a block to hit against, around or through. Add a block and add a defense every time you can.
One more drill consideration. Have a goal! The goal of the drill as described suggested that each girl hit the ball over 3 times in a row to get a point. That is awesome! That is the kind of scoring that I like to see. Depending on the age and skill level of you team I also like to add in one more factor. It must be a factor that makes the athlete think during the performance of a skill. In volleyball games we have to make a lot of decisions and we have to make them very quickly. I will let you come up with ideas on your own of what thinking skill you want to train, but the point is that we aren’t going up to the net just to hit the ball over, but to perform an “attack” against the opponent based upon their weaknesses. Better practices make better games!
See you on the court!
A quick note on serve receive drills.
When coaching volleyball during practice to improve serve receive it is critical to keep track of how each passer is performing. By keeping track of performance you accomplish at least two things.
1) The intensity of the athletes improves.
2) You can identify you best and worst passers. (Most importantly which one of your “in-between” passers is better than the other)
Now back to attacking the serve receive!
Serve Receive – Offense
Every coach knows you must focus on the opponent’s weakest passer. How do you decide who is their weakest passer? As I take on new assistant coaches between high school and club, I always ask my assistant to let me know who they think is the bad passer and who we should target. (Ideally this is done by scouting the opponent previous to your game, but frequently in high school and club it happens on the fly.) What I have found most frequently is that we DISAGREE! And sometimes I realize that although they choose the weakest passer, it may not be the most effective choice.
A couple of things to consider when attacking an opponents serve receive…
1- Which attackers are receiving. The younger the player, generally the harder it is for them to pass and later attack the ball. Now the best passer on the team isn’t going to be hindered too much by having to pass then go and hit, but an “in-between” passer may not be able to perform this. In middle school volleyball and JV volleyball it is quite effective to serve the best player on the team to eliminate them from hitting the ball. As you reach the highly talented college bound volleyball players, sometime a serve to displace them is enough to give yourself a “chance” to dig the ball rather than get six packed in the face. Another fun exercise is to have your toughest server serve their best passer and/or attacker. If they can get the best player out of their groove and make them lose concentration because they are passing poorly, you can often stifle their serve receive strategy.
2- Where is the setter coming from and where is he/she going. Another basic one here, but yet very helpful serve receive strategy. The primary idea here is to serve to the person who the setter will run in front of if they are coming from the back row. This will hopefully block their view or distract them long enough to create a bad pass. I like to focus on the left side of the opponents court (Locations 1 & 2) when attacking the setter. If the setter is running from position 1 to set, it is easy to aim to spot 1 and accomplish two different goals. The first goal I described above. The second goal of attacking a setter is to serve to the athlete in position 1 because the ball travels the least distance and gives the setter the least amount of time to prepare. I often shift my servers to that side of the court because this again allows slightly less time than serving cross court to the player.
The last thing accomplished by serving to serve receive locations 1 and 2 is that if the setter wants to set the outside hitter or middle they have to do so almost blindly. I would say almost 80% of all setters are better at setting a ball that comes from in front of them that they later set in front of them. By serving behind them, you can often force them to set back row, or to the right side because it is easier. If they are a good setter this wont stop them, but it does make their life less easy.
The last paragraph spoke of an interesting point. Most setters are better at setting balls that come from in front of them, Why is that? It is because we condition them to do so. I have never seen a coach in practice toss a ball to the setter from behind them. The famous toss to the setter hit back, dig, set, hit that many athletes do is always done from in front of them, or setters turn around to set the right side attack.
Final note…If your setter is a beginner, entering the ball from the front does make it easier, but most important is that we realize what we are teaching. What habits are you ingraining in your athletes?
See you on the court!
In the day of modern technology and advances in science we all too often find ourselves going for a “gimmick” that is more hype than help. Think about all of the infomercials that you see daily. Do they really work better than the previous version of the same product?
Two examples will suffice. How many volleyball of us purchased an ab roller? Did we really think that it would make the fat go away any faster without diet? Yes we thought so, but did it? No. How about the “ab belt” that sent electrical impulses to your muscles and was supposed to give you the six pack you dreamed of? Once again, you can’t just buy the equipment; you must follow a steady cycle of dieting and eating smart to get any visible results.
On the volleyball court coaches want to use the newest high-speed serving machine or stand on boxes so they can attack from a more “realistic” angle of attack. We have targets to set to and “spike trainers”, but are we getting more hype or help?
Standing on boxes and hitting at players in practice is one that I feel is more hype than help. The concept is simply making practice more game-like. While a coach is on a box, they eliminate reading the setter, reading the set, reading the attack angle of the hitter, reading the arm-swing of the hitter from a jump rather than standing position, reading the distance of the ball from the net, moving quickly to your defensive location and much more.
In order to focus on specific problems our team may struggle with we often shrink it down to a simple scenario. While this helps our athletes understand the problem, it does little to help the athletes prepare for it in a game-like volleyball scenario.
Instead of just standing on a box, slapping the ball and hitting at your poor little team, try and make it as game-like as possible. Ex…Have a libero pass the ball to your setter, have the setter set the coach on the box, then have the defense react to that set. You will be getting reps in for your libero, forcing your setter to set right to the box as well as working on defense or blocking or whatever your goal was originally.
One last problem I often make when designing drills is that of eliminating too many options. In a volleyball game there are a lot of decisions to make in a short period of time. In practice, we often eliminate many options teaching our athletes how to make good decisions when only one option is available, but when given more options in a game, our athletes struggle. An example of this is simply hitting lines. We have one line going at a time while the other two stand there. Better would be if all three athletes were to approach as if they were going to be set and the setter made a decision who to set based upon the toss or pass from the libero. If you feel like the other team knows the game better than your team, this is often what the coach has trained them to know.
These are just some ideas on volleyball training. If you haven’t at least considered improving your practices like this, now is the time!
See you on the court!