The Volleyball Test

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volleyball testTagged – Practice Philosophy

If you want to assess the quality of any training drill, the easiest way to apply The Volleyball TestThe Volleyball Test is very simple.  You look at the drill and ask a simple question.  Is it volleyball?  The specific components to The Volleyball Test are quite simple.

Where is the ball coming from?  Is it coming from the same place it comes from during a game of volleyball? Is it coming from the same angle?  If the ball should come from over the net when the skill is performed, it has to come from over the net in the drill.

Where is the player looking?  Is the player looking in the same place they would have to look at to perform that specific skill in volleyball?  Drills in which blockers must look at broadly at several spikers on a box to make decisions, are not volleyball.  Blockers have to look precisely at the setter.

Where does the ball go after the contact?  I think you are getting the hang of it.

What decisions does the player have to make?  If the player does not have to make any decisions, the drill is not volleyball.  It may help focus attention on one specific attentional or movement component of a skill, but it isn’t volleyball.  Spiking without a block is not volleyball.  There is no spike that ever happens in a volleyball match in which the player does have to make a decision about the block.

What other players are involved?  Every time a player touches the ball during a game of volleyball involves an interaction with at least one, and usually more, other players.

There are lots of things that coaches do during training that look like volleyball but when you apply The Volleyball Test it turns out they are not volleyball at all.  And if they are not volleyball, then are they worth doing at all?

A collection of more Coaching Tips can be found here.

For more great coaching tips, check out the Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.


  1. Sometimes you need to practice skills that are not volleyball in order to improve your volleyball skills.
    To use you’re example, if you always practice spiking with a block, you may loose your “refined spiking depth perception” (As in the hability to know exactly were your ball is going to hit the floor), focusing in the timing of the blockers (that may as well be bad blockers and nothing game like), and that could reinforce players bad habits.
    If you’re going to play in a match this week, you should spike against blockers, but if you’re looking to improve you’re spiking skills, and have the time, it can be fruitful to have a more baby step and diverse (as in different exercises) aproach.
    I believe you made a similar argument when talking about not making all exercises into competition. Well, volleyball is a competitive sport. Can you pass “the volleyball test” then?.
    So, answering your question, yes, I do believe that “the volleyball test” failures may be worth doing.
    p.s.: Love your blog, salutes from Brasil 😉


    1. You are right that sometimes you need to practice some different parts of skills. But if you are spiking without a block, you can still apply The Volleyball Test for the other parts of the drill, eg setter position, pass position etc. I have spiking a couple of times each week without block to practice the relationship between the setter and spikers.
      Not every drill is exactly volleyball, but you can nearly always get a little bit closer to volleyball than you started.
      PS thanks 🙂


  2. Another great article. So simple and so true. And yes we make tradeoffs in drill design to focus on particular elements or adjust to constraints. The test still holds for those elements and adjustments. Een with a Game-Like philosophy, I am constantly tweaking to get more efficient and effective flow in training activity.

    Liked by 1 person

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