You can often find posted on various groups and pages videos showing drills on how to improve ‘reactions’. In this context ‘reactions’ are understood to be the speed of movement in response to a game stimulus. The goal of many such drills is to make the recognition of any cues as late as possible in order to ‘speed up’ ‘reactions’. You have seen some of these videos. You have all seen them, but I won’t show them here. There are games with blankets hung over nets. Or defenders playing balls that come from behind them. Or other such imaginative activities.
There is no denying that such drills can be fun and engaging and can have an appropriate place in a training program. Unfortunately that place is not as a drill to improve ‘reactions’.
At its heart is a fundamental misunderstanding in what we interpret as fast ‘reactions’. Just as first tempo attack is not fast but early, in most cases what we interpret as fast is in reality early cue recognition and decision making. Players with good ‘reactions’ are not moving fast, they are moving early. They recognise cues earlier than other players, interpret those cues better, and make better decisions.
The key to improving ‘reactions’ is to teach players where to look, how to interpret what they see and what are the most effective decisions they can make. Drills that attempt to speed ‘reactions’ by removing cues are actually counterproductive. They do the opposite of what they are intended to do.
Unfortunately there are no imaginative shortcuts to speed someone’s ‘reactions’. The only way improve ‘reactions’ is in the most literal way possible to play volleyball. The only way to improve ‘reactions’ is to practice seeing, interpreting and deciding. By all means have fun at practice, but with full understanding of what is a fun and engaging activity and what is learning. And when in doubt apply The Volleyball Test.
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