In this series of videos, three-time beach Olympian Holly McPeak takes you through a progressive practice covering some of the most important first touches in volleyball. Learn how to teach defense for hard-driven balls (both underhand and overhand), first touches on short and deep balls and serve-receive passing. Each tutorial is accompanied by a drill, and the workout concludes with a challenging team game that encompasses all the skills.
Four talented high school players who will play beach in college participated in this workout: Mira Costa High's Alexia Inman (Cal Berkeley), Piper Monk (UCLA) and Rio Frohoff (Tulane) and JSerra's Gigi Hernandez (Pepperdine).
To start the first-touch workout, Holly has the players pair off and do a warmup drill that involves passing, setting and moving laterally to the ball.
Deep ball, first contact technique
The emphasis here is on moving backward quickly to get your body behind the ball rather than resorting to a less-dependable touch like a tomahawk or a high platform behind your head. One key: open up on the first step instead of backpedaling.
Deep ball, first contact drill
In this drill, the tosser lobs balls to the deep corner on both sides of the court while the players retreat, get behind the ball, plant and get a good touch in the direction of where the setter would be.
Short ball, first contact technique
In this video, Gigi Hernandez demonstrates the proper way to play a short ball on defense.
Short ball, first contact drill
For this drill, Holly emphasizes several keys to effectively playing the short ball, including running low to the ground, playing the ball low and keeping your butt down.
3 diggers, 1 setter drill
This drill adds a second touch to the deep and short touches from the first drill. Three defenders take turns digging deep and short tosses and another player sets, working on squaring to the target.
Hard-driven ball, first contact (underhand)
In this video, Holly talks about keys to a good underhand dig for hard-driven balls and runs a drill with 3 diggers and a setter.
Hard-driven ball, first contact (overhand)
Here, Holly talks about focal points for the overhand dig and runs the players through a drill with 3 diggers and a setter.
Serve-receive, first contact
Passing is probably the most important first contact of all. Holly covers it here with technique tips and a drill involving a server, 2 passers and a setter.
The 2 set game
To wrap all the skills into one package, Holly has the girls finish with “The 2 set game,” which is normal doubles with a challenging twist: the setter takes the pass and sets it to herself, then sets it again to her teammate.
The winner is the team that’s ahead when 7 total points are scored. So you can win 4-3, 7-0, 6-1, etc.
Along with being fun, this game reinforces the importance of good contacts and it also makes hitters wait on their approaches rather than coming in too early and getting under the ball.