Of all the common drills that one sees in a standard volleyball practice, the drill that I absolutely hate the most is what we can call ‘free hitting’. This is the drill in which there is a setter on each side of the net. The spikers line up play the ball to the setter, who either spikes it back to receive a ball to set or sets directly to the spiker. The spikers then changes sides and repeats with the other setter. Without going into the tedious details, I hate this because literally every part of the drill is wrong: the movement patterns, the court dimensions, the order of actions, the perceptual requirements. Every single part of the drill is wrong. There are other common drills in which that is also the case (two man pepper being the most obvious) but that I hate less mostly because with spiking it is very, very simple to correct.
The solution that I most commonly use is a free ball over the net from the coach, received by the libero or spiker, then set and attacked. To add a (small) level of concentration I nearly always score this drill. One point for a strong spike in, no points for a weak spike or spike that touches the net tape, minus one point for an error. I have found that reaching 40 points provides a good level of warmup and is a good preparation for the complex drills that follow.
It may surprise you to learn that even the professional players that I work with can not / do not spike with no errors against no block or defence. Over the ten or so years that I have been using this drill at least 3 times per week, the most consecutive points my team has ever reached is in the low 20s. Until Tuesday. Some days are just good days. From the first ball the guys were completely dialled in and the 10, 20, 30 point milestones were passed with ease. At 40, I decided that we should keep going to see what would happen. At 50, I called a halt.
50 good spikes in a row. 14 guys completely focused for eight minutes. Sometimes it is the smallest things that make the coach the proudest.