35 Volleyball Drills - Hand-Picked (Spice Up Your Practice)


If you're planning your next volleyball practice and looking for some inspirationĀ ā€“ this list of 35 hand-picked drills has you covered.

They're used and presented by some of the best college coaches in the country, such as Terry Liskevych (legendary coach at Oregon State), Michael Seemann (head coach at Portland State), and Bobbi Petersen (head coach at UNI), so you can count on their quality.

Incorporate some of these into your training, and you'll improve individual skills of your players, strengthen coordination as a team, and above all, make your classes or lessons that much more fun.

Note: We have a lot of drills for beach volleyball as well.

Showing two players at volleyball practice

In this article:

1. Movement

2. Defense

3. Reception

4. Offense

5. Serve

6. Juniors

7. Set

8. Block

9. Gameplay

Volleyball Drills for Movement & Warm-up

The first category has your players practice the basic movements of volleyball, as well as raise your body temperature and awareness using more fast-paced exercises.

1. Shuffling Drill

Instructed by coach Brent of Upwards Stars Volleyball.

Players are lined up in pairs.

At the coach's command, they start shuffling sideways, backwards or forwards.

Proper passing posture is to be kept at all times.

2. Dynamic Warmup

Instructed by Tod Mattox, volleyball coach at Bishop's School, La Jolla, CA.

To learn to defend hard, and dig every ball, you should emphasize this at the start of practice.

The coach is tossing balls from the net for the liberos to defend. The other players have to be able to catch the dug balls for it to count as a point.

Each round goes up to seven points.

3. Queen of the Court

Instructed by Tod Mattox, volleyball coach at Bishop's School, La Jolla, CA.

This is a great warm-up drill incorporating back-row hitting and defensive precision.

This variation of Queen/King of the Court is played 3 on 3. Each team gets just two contacts, one of which ideally should be a spike. But -- you're only allowed to attack from behind the three-meter line.

The ball is served as a bowl over. You only score on the King's/Queen's side. On a winning serve, you go over to that side. The losing team goes out.


Many teams can squeeze out valuable percentages by gettingĀ  better at defense. Working on this important aspect of your game will also make you an all-around better volleyball athlete.

Feel free to add some of these to your next coaching lesson.

4. Belly Drill

Instructed by Chijo Takeda, coach at Portland Volleyball Club.

Three players lie belly-down behind the end line.

The coach then bounces a ball inside the court. As soon as it hits the floor, the players get up, and try to get to the ball.

The goal is to put it up such that it is playable for another player on their team.

5. Coverage Practice

Instructed by Russ Rose, former long-time head coach at Penn State.

A full team sides out one served ball, then immediately covers a predetermined number of balls tossed in by players at the net.

The balls should be tossed to varying locations, and more shallow or deep depending on the size of the 'blocker' (the tosser behind the net).

Plan Perfect Practices

To never run out of ideas for your beach volleyball practice, check out the practice plans with detailed videos inside our Better at Beach members' area.

Get Practice Plans

6. Defensive Movement

Instructed by Ashlie Hain, head coach at UC Irvine.

In this progression, five balls are tossed right at the defender.

After that, they get five for which they have to do a single side step to get to.

Lastly, they get five tosses further away from them, so they have to sprawl out sideways to defend the ball.

7. Defense Reaction

Instructed by Coach Donny Hui, Founder of Elevate Yourself Volleyball.

This video shows two effective ways to train defensive reactions. Both are to be done in pairs.

The first is standing in front of a wall, getting a toss from behind, and defending the rebound off the wall.

The second is defending a standing spike, and a tossed ball immediately after.

8. Defensive Run Thru

Instructed by Mike Gawlik, head coach of Central Michigan Volleyball.

A series of drills to practice moving your feet and keeping going 'through the ball' on moderately fast defensive balls.

Players are being fed medium-height balls and are trying to defend them on target, while 'running through' the ball.

All different parts of the court should be covered during this practice.

9. Bail Drill

Instructed by Michael Seemann, head coach at Portland State.

In this cooperative/competitive defensive drill, the coach attacks at one player at a time out of a single-file line.

If you dig the ball towards a good position at the net, you stay in the drill. Likewise, if you just dig it up, but the next player steps in to 'bail you out' by playing the ball to the net, you can stay, too.

If you fail to do either, you're out of the drill.

Serve Receive Drills

Strengthen fundamental receiving skills with these 5 variations:

10. Passing Ladder

Instructed by Christy Johnson-Lynch, head coach at Iowa State.

In the passing ladder, you move up courts if you win, and down courts if you lose.

It's server vs passer. The passer tries to get as many good passes out of 8 serves as possible.

Then they switch duties, and see who got more points.

11. Russian Passing

Instructed by Anne Kordes, University of Louisville Head Coach.

Two tossers are working one passer.

The passer is moving backwards to get behind the first toss. Immediately after, she goes the other way, turns, and passes the second toss.

Make sure to keep your shoulders forward and your body behind the ball.

12. 2v2 Passing Drill

Instructed by Mike Gee, Director of NPJ Volleyball.

This one is all about communication -- taking responsibility when you're close to another passer, instead of letting the ball drop.

Two teams of two players are across from each other, with one of them serving. You can choose to have them play out the rally after the pass.

13. Passing Accuracy

Instructed by Michelle Collier, Georgia Tech Head Coach.

A single line of passers stars in the middle of the back half of the court. The setter is setting to the outside & opposite positions, from where hitters are overhand passing back, along the sideline.

The passer shuffles to the line, stops, and gives an accurate pass to the setter.

The progression to this is starting at the corner between sideline & 10ft line, and moving backwards to pass the same free ball.

14. Serve Receive Drill

Instructed by Terry Liskevych, former head coach at Oregon State.

In this simple serve receive drill, passers are working off a throw by the coach, who is standing across the net at mid-court.

A different player is targeted with each repetition, and the team is successively going through every rotation.


Use these selected exercises to build strong attackers from the ground up -- then solidify your progress and integrate with more advanced versions.

15. Snap Drill

Demonstrated by Kristi Tekavec, professional volleyball player.

An easy way to work on 'snappy' hitting hand contact individually.

The first phase is getting the hang of the movement. Secondly, doing it more deliberately.

And at the end, doing it fully while standing.

16. First Ball Kill

Instructed by Ken Murczek, head coach at Emporia State.

Practice the deadliness of your attack with this variation.

The receiving team gets one chance to receive serve and kill the ball, and the play stops.

Then they get a free ball from the coach, and the same thing happens: The only way to score is with a direct kill.

17. Outside Hitting

Instructed by Michael Seemann, head coach at Portland State.

Here, outside hitters can improve their efficiency in out-of-system situations -- while the defense is training their transition game.

There's a lineup of outside hitters plus a setter on one side, and a full team of 6 on the other.

The hitters are competing against each other until 5 points. On a first ball kill, you immediately receive another one, to practice taking advantage of momentum in the game.

18. Middle Hitting

Instructed by Russ Rose, former long-time head coach at Penn State.

A simple volleyball hitting drill for middles: Players are serving from across the net, there are two passers, one setter, and a midde.

The middle is set all the time, unless it's a bad pass, then the set goes to the coach standing at the outside hitter position.

Serves are coming in in rapid succession to speed up the drill and make it more challenging.

19. Matrix Drill

Instructed by Ryan McGuire, head coach at Baylor Athletics.

Here, the receiving team is battling the servers for three minutes straight.

All sets are quick, and middles and outsides are swapped out after each play. You may only hit hard.

Try to decrease your errors each week.

20. 3-2-1-0

Instructed by Michael Seemann, head coach at Portland State.

To reward first ball or transition kills, they count for 3 points.

Play starts from an out-of-system play.

As the rally continues, you get fewer points for terminating the ball: 2, 1, and 0.

21. Hit The Deck

Instructed by Bobbi Petersen, head coach at UNI Volleyball.

You're trying to set the middle each play.

If you don't, the whole team have to 'hit the deck': Get on their belly before they defend the potential transition ball.

The ball is fed by the coach serving across the net from the sideline.

Serving Drills

Many volleyball players' serve is not as threatening, or targeted, as it could be.

Use the following progressive practice to change that for the better:

22. Serving Progression

Instructed by Craig Skinner, head coach at University of Kentucky.

This progression helps to solidify the serving motion from the ground up.

Players start by practicing their toss from a kneeling position.

Later they start serving into the net, then over the net, and finally standing on one foot.

23. Serve to Target

Instructed by Darrin McBroom, head coach at Drake University.

Serving practice to five points:

Hitting the target is a point. Serving out of bounds or into the net is a negative.

A serve into the court, but not on target is a wash.

Juniors & High School

Young players are well-served by drilling on the fundamentals, while still having some variation, constant motion, and fun!

24. High School 10-13yo

Instructed by Audrey Flaugh, head coach at Mintonette Volleyball.

In this video, you'll find a number of drills for high school juniors.

The focus is on movement, ball handling, and a high number of repetitions.

Players are learning to feed balls to their teammates, as well as quickly take care of stray balls -- strengthening their autonomy and discipline at the same time.

Drills for Setters

Develop better setting in your players with basic to advanced practice.

25. Wrist Control

Instructed by Coach Donny Hui, Founder of Elevate Yourself Volleyball.

A way for setters to progressively develop their wrist control: Playing the ball against the wall using only the wrists and fingers.

The first variation is standing closer to the wall, the second one is increasing the speed while keeping perfect setting posture.

26. Setter Ball Handling

Instructed by Storm Performance Volleyball, Texas coaches.

Setters start in a seated position, continuously setting the ball to themselves.

They then get up from that seated position in whatever way they can, while keeping the ball in the air the whole time.

They want to be going all the way to standing -- and back! -- while setting the ball and never losing it.

27. Out of System Drill

Instructed by Tod Mattox, volleyball coach at Bishop's School, La Jolla, CA.

The ball is bowled from the net at a 3-player defense. One of them steps in to set the out-of-system ball to the outside, and then covers the hitter.

Setters become attackers.

Attackers get their ball and become bowlers.

28. Trouble Backset

Instructed by Diane Flick-Williams, head coach at Western Washington.

Setters are asked to give themselves an out-of-system pass behind the 10ft line, and then back set it to position 2.

Important technical cues are proper footwork, contacting the ball high, and full extension of the arms on the backset.

29. Scrap Drill

Instructed by Michael Seemann, head coach at Portland State.

The purpose of this drill is to get net players accustomed to scrapping balls out of the net and recycling them into points.

If they manage to make a proper attack, they get two points. For a free ball over, they get one. If they fail to do either, zero.

First pair to 9 points wins.


Block training is somewhat neglected by non-professional teams. If you're inspired to start improving your team's blocking performance, check these out:

30. Block Challenge

Instructed by Coach Donny Hui, Founder of Elevate Yourself Volleyball.

Using just a setter, blocker, and outside hitter, players can practice their blocking technique as well as aggressive hitting, challenging the block.

Instead of going around it, the hitter is looking to go full force at the block.

This helps him see the block, and gives the blocker a high number of opportunities for successful action.

31. Read Blocking

Instructed by Jed Stotsenberg, coach at Pacific Ridge and Wave Volleyball.

Focusing on reading the set and calling the ball, three blockers at the net react to an outside set on the other side.

The other side is not attacking, but doing a simple setting triangle between two liberos and a setter.

After each repetition, three new blockers come in.

32. Advanced Blocking

Instructed by Brazil National Team Coaches.

To train the block at three different positions, have three coaches standing on boxes across the net.

One after the other, they're hitting the ball, while the players have to quickly perform their approach and block jump.

Rest after each set of 3 hits.

Game Play Drills

And now, putting it all together. Game-like practice has gotten more and more popular, and it's where a good volleyball training program should end up.

Pick and choose your favorite ways of working on side-out and game play:

33. Dig, Set, Hit

Instructed by Terry Liskevych, former head coach at Oregon State.

We have two rows of players in the right-back and left-back positions.

The coach is hitting the ball at the defense, who try and defend the ball to a spot 12ft off the net, for the setter to set.


34. 1-2-1

Instructed by Bond Shymansky, former head coach at Iowa Volleyball.

"This is a sideout drill with a serve for the final point to mimic the stress of serving and scoring after a rally."

The '1-2-1' name refers to: One serve receive, and two free balls, followed by one serve of your own, for the receiving team.

35. The Fill-In Drill

Instructed by Jim Moore, former head coach at Oregon.

This is a continuous drill with one defender, one defender/attacker, and a setter, plus a line of players to fill in on each side.

The coach hits a ball at the defense. As soon as the hitter completes her attack, another player will fill in for her, creating a well-flowing drill.

Video Poster Image

36 Beach Volleyball Drills In a PDF!

Get the free drill book with 36 hand-picked drills:

*No spam & unsubscribe any time.