Volleyball passing is often practiced in a static, controlled environment, where players bump ball after ball off tosses from a coach or teammate. This has limited value because it isn’t nearly as challenging as passing live serves in a scrimmage or match.
In this video, you’ll learn a drill that provides a more game-like way to train serve-receivers.
Serve receive drills: advanced practice for competitions
The “21 Down” serve-and-receive drill demonstrated here is fun, competitive, and it requires players to deal with live serves, much as they do in competition. This passing drill – or similar serve-receive drills – is a great way to help players improve their passing to the target by learning to track the ball’s flight and control it off their platforms.
As a bonus, “21 Down” gives players lots of serving reps, so the entire team gets to work simultaneously on two of the most important skills in volleyball.
How the drill works
Divide players into two teams. Team 1 goes to one side of the net; Team 2 goes to the other side.
Each team will have three passers positioned in standard serve receive position – a straight line across the width of the court. Anyone on the court who isn’t passing is a server. Servers are positioned behind the back line. Club Coach Brennan Dean offers additional insight into passing formations.
Play begins with one side serving a ball to the passers. Once a player passes, she switches places with a server who comes in from the back line to pass.
Next, the other side serves, and the drill continues like this – back and forth until there is a winner.
Scoring the drill
Each team starts with a score of 21. Points are subtracted based on the quality of the pass. The game is over when one team loses by reaching zero.
Passes are statted on the standard 3-point scale, with 3 being a perfect pass and 0 being an ace. High school coach Tod Mattox goes into more detail on statting passes in this video. Scoring for “21 Down” looks like this:
- 3 pass = 0 points subtracted from the receiving team
- 2 pass = 1 point subtracted
- 1 pass = 2 points subtracted
- 0 pass = 3 points subtracted
If the opposing team misses a serve, the receiving team gets the point.
“21 Down” will primarily involve underhand forearm passing, but players may want to take the ball overhead on deep serves. In his video tutorial, Trinity Western volleyball coach Ben Josephson shares additional tips on good a href="https://www.theartofcoachingvolleyball.com/overhead-passing-strategies/">overhead passing.
Serve, pass, compete
If you’re looking for fun serve-receive drills, “21 Down” is hard to beat. It tests your players’ passing and serving skills in a competitive format that you can easily adapt to the size of your team.
Explore our full library of volleyball drills and learn more with The Art of Coaching Volleyball.