Getting really good at volleyball means doing more than just going to practice. You need to do some extra credit.
Then again, time is limited, right? With school, homework, volleyball and clearing space on your calendar for fun, there aren’t many extra minutes in the day.
No worries. Kyle Mashima, a longtime club and high school coach in Palo Alto, California, has created 6 Driveway Drills with your hectic schedule in mind. These mini “homework” sessions can be done in a few minutes, and they’re an easy and fun way to improve.
“Homework has really helped my teams,” Mashima says. “You can do them by yourself, and you don’t have to go to a gym or a schoolyard – just your own backyard or driveway. Even with just 10 or 15 minutes a day, you can get thousands of extra reps. That will make you a significantly better player in a short period of time.”
Serving with an elastic rebounder
Serving with an elastic rebounder that wraps around both your waist and the volleyball is a great way to get lots of reps and refine your technique and accuracy.
For this drill, as high school player Heidi Purnama demonstrates, the athlete should pick a target point on a wall or garage door that's about 9 feet high and serve to that target without actually hitting the wall.
One benefit to this drill is that it prevents you from making excessively high tosses. Another is that you never have to chase the ball.
A good goal is to serve on-target 10 times. Count how many reps it takes, and challenge yourself to lower that number each time.
Setting through the hoop
Adjustable hoops are a great way to get driveway or backyard setting reps. In this video, you'll see Kyle Mashima's homemade device -- constructed from a hula hoop.
The goal here, as Heidi demonstrates, is to get 10 perfect sets through the hoop and track how many reps it takes. One important key is to toss the ball high in the air before the set so you have to move to the ball like you would in a match or scrimmage.
If done every day, this drill will get you 1,000 or more extra reps each month.
Approach footwork is something that can be practiced anywhere: the driveway, the backyard, the living room. The more attack approaches you do each day, the more ingrained it will be when you do it in a match.
Kyle recommends doing 20 or 30 per day. In this video, Heidi runs through a standard approach that closes with left, right, left, jump.
As simple as this drill sounds, it's an important one because, as Kyle points out, you don't want to be worrying about your footwork when you're attacking.
Attacking arm swing reps using the elastic band or rebounder
Using either the elastic band or the rebounder net, you can get numerous hitting reps that will help you refine your hand contact and improve your arm swing.
Your focal point for this drill should be to hit the ball consistently in the middle of your hand to produce good topspin. The rebounder helps you test your accuracy and also allows you to see the spin on the ball.
Goal: 5 or 10 in a row to target. As with the setting and serving drills, count your reps and try to keep lowering the number it takes to get to your goal.
A good progression, as you'll see demonstrated in the video, is to use the rebounder as your setter. Hit the ball into the rebounder, then hit the "set" that comes out of the rebounder.
Garage door blocking
The height of a garage door is usually around 7 feet, which makes it very close to a girls' or women's volleyball net height (7-4 1/8). That's ideal for practicing blocking – from footwork to hand positioning.
Heidi demonstrates 3 variations in this video:
- Standing block
- Shuffle block
- Full block to the right or left side, either swing block or crossover steps
Driveway handball to improve footwork
This simple handball drill is a nice way to work on footwork and hand-eye coordination. Use a mini volleyball or even a tennis ball or racquetball.
To get the most out of this drill, use both your right and left hand and shuffle back and forth to intercept the ball. See how many you can do in a row without missing!
Players at all levels benefit greatly from watching video of themselves performing skills. As Kyle explains here, it's easy for you to do this at home with your phone, some free video delay software (available at the App Store) and a selfie-stick tripod.
By filming your drills, you can make small adjustments to improve your technique, and you can also send clips to your coach to get his or her feedback.
Equipment used in driveway drills
Two useful pieces of equipment for driveway drills are the PowerNet and ball rebounders.
The PowerNet allows players to hit at net-height to practice serving and spiking, and it can also be used for working on setting accuracy.
Ball rebounders have multiple uses, including hitting and serving training and simulating a live set to rep attacks off an approach.