I once ran a day-long player camp on behalf of Volleyball England. This wasn’t and England camp, just a general open invitation for kids in the approximately 15-17 year old age range. I led the boys’ sessions while someone else did the same for the girls. We did three 90 minute sessions across the day.

I could have had any focus on I wanted, but I had something specific in mind. When watching the Last 8s tournament featuring the top U18 teams in England a couple months prior, I observed no real linkage between front row and back row attack by the team. While they all had offenses featuring middles running quick attacks and players hitting out of the back row, none linked the two together. In other words, I didn’t see any quick-bic/pipe plays. This despite the athletes being more than capable.

So I decided to make that my theme for this camp. Here’s how I used the three sessions to that end.

Session 1

I gave the players two things to focus on in this session. One was that back row sets should be in front of the 3m line to allow attackers to broad jump. The other was that the back row hitters should take big, powerful, explosive approaches. We basically then spent the session playing back courts 3s and 4s reinforcing those two keys. Everyone set and everyone hit.

Session 2

Now it was time to work on the combinations. Several of the setters and middles there were familiar with the tempo of the 51 and 31 sets. So we had them demonstrate for the others to create the foundation. Then we established the tempo and location for the pipe linked with those sets. Along the way we explained the offensive concept of overloading the block and forcing it to make a decision.

Once everyone had the idea, we sent them off to the courts to work on it. That started with Setter, MB, Pipe Hitter, Passer to get things going. We progressively added elements such as:

  • Now either back row player could pass, with the non-passer hitting the pipe
  • Now the passer has to hit pipe
  • Adding a middle blocker who either shows a commit to the quick or that he’s waiting on the pipe

Throughout this we continued to reinforce the keys from Session 1.

Session 3

Now it was on to proper game play. We started all the rallies with easy serves to encourage the offense. Then the scoring featured bonus points for executing the offense successfully – and for getting a stuff block. Again, reinforcing the concepts we develop before – sets in front of the 3m line, big approaches, timing and location of the quick and pipe sets.

I should note that in between Sessions 2 and 3 I showed the boys video from the Italian men’s pro league final. This gave them a chance to see lots of examples of the quick-bic/pipe in action.

Was it ugly? Oh yeah!

But as I repeatedly reinforced to the guys, we didn’t care. They weren’t going to get it all in one day. It was about understanding the concepts to take back to their teams to work on and develop there. And that could lead to some interesting creativity in attack.

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