Wash drills are not realistic.
The primary objective of wash drills is to create more game, i.e. realistic, situations in practice but the drill format itself is not realistic. The concept of a ball entering the court immediately after a rally has finished is the counterintuitive. And we cannot kid ourselves about this. There is no way (repeat zero ways) a coach can put a ball into play that is ‘realistic’.
Wash drills are an (the) essential component of effective practice.
Given that these two statements are both correct, we need to work out how we can maximise the effectiveness of the format. The first thing we must understand is that the eyes of the players naturally follow the ball that has just completed the rally. That is what happens in the game. It is natural. Every player in the world does it and it is not a sign of laziness or lack of attention. If you watch the players closely you will see how it happens. They need one second (or perhaps less) to finish the rally and refocus on the next action. You can shorten this time to a degree but there will always be a lag of attention.
Before attention is refocused, players are not looking in the right place, are not in good positions, do not make a good action/s, and so the whole rally is essentially wasted. After attention is refocused you can put the ball in.
There are of course other factors (ball / players / sweat on the court) that you also have to consider, as well establishing the parameters and tempo of the drill, but the art of running the drill is to find the ‘sweet spot’ so players have just enough time to refocus, but no more.
Many coaches will try to ‘trick’ the team by putting the ball into play from an unexpected place or to an unrealistic place, so the team is ‘ready for anything’. There are no situations in volleyball when a ball comes from an unexpected place, or at an unexpected time. Where the ball comes from is ALWAYS predictable. It ALWAYS comes from the place where the attention is focused. If a ball is unexpected it is because the player was not looking in the right place or has misinterpreted the cues presented. The purpose of practicing in game situations, is to learn and practice seeing, recognising and reacting to the cues presented in the game. To deliberately provide unrealistic situations negates the reason for using the drill form in the first place, and by ‘practicing’ that which can never happen, is again essentially waste time.
No drill form by itself is ‘valuable’. It ALWAYS depends on how coach runs it.
More things I was thinking about here.
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