Long before The Art of Coaching Volleyball website, Jim Iams was tinkering with the game in his mind. As top assistant for the U.S. women’s national team at the 1988 Olympics and an advisor for the ’92 and ’96 women’s Olympic teams, he spent a lot of time concocting drills.
As he has shaped his coaching philosophy over the years, he has become increasingly convinced that the best drills are game-like and competitive.
One of many drills he came up with was the “10-2 Passing Drill,” which challenges not only passers but also servers -- and creates game-like pressure for both.
Here’s how it works:
- Take all your passers and divide them into two teams, then add an equal number of non-passers to each team. Make sure each team has a setter.
- The game is 6 on 6. Team A serves. Team B receives.
- The goal for Team B is to pass the ball well enough to allow its setter to make a successful overhand set. (The coach has final say on the definition of “successful.”)
Iams devised “10-2” for the Olympic team, so the scoring may need to be modified for lower-level teams. His scoring works like this:
Team B, the passing team, tries to get the ball to the setter 10 times before making two errors. Each time Team B successfully gets the ball to the setter, it earns a mini point.
Team A, the serving team, tries to serve tough enough to force two passing errors before Team B wins 10 points. Each time Team A forces a passing error – a passing error would be any pass the setter can’t set – a mini point is earned by the serving team. (Missed serves count as a point for the passing team.)
A “real” point is earned by the serving team if it forces two errors before the passing team reaches 10. A “real” point is earned by the passing team if it reaches 10 first. Once a real point is scored, the two teams reverse roles. Whenever a team becomes the passing team, it should rotate one serve-receive position. A complete game often goes through all six rotations.
How long the game goes can be determined by the coach. For instance, it might go to five “big” points or seven “big” points. If the coach finds that one team or the other is always winning, the point ratio should be changed – say, four errors rather than 2 for each 10 successful passes.
What Iams likes about the passing part of this drill:
“You have your complete passing formation on the court, so not only are you working on passing but you’re working on communication. You’re working on what part of the court belongs to one player as opposed to another player. A good serving team is going to focus on what they think is the weak spot in the passing, so [the receiving team] is going to be forced to work on the weakest link in its passing formation.
What Iams likes about the serving part of this drill:
“If you’re a coach who likes to give serving signals, this is a good opportunity for you to give those serving signals and see how effective the player is at hitting those marks. [For the player], it’s not just the skill; it also simulates the thought process.”