Fall is coming, and a whole new set of sports will be played on fields and courts around the US. Some of the most popular in America’s high schools and recreation leagues include cross-country, field hockey, tennis, volleyball, football, and basketball. The following volleyball drills, games, and minigames will help your students prepare for the upcoming season.
8 Drills, Games, & Minigames for Building Volleyball Skills
Volleyball is a fun and active sport involving teamwork, strength, agility, and communication. Depending on the level of play, it may also require the skills of passing, setting, spiking, and serving.
The following 8 volleyball games and drills are designed to help your students gradually6 build those skills. They begin with volleying and striking balloons in grades K-2, to learning the forearm pass in grades 3-6, applying skills to minigames in middle school, and finally, playing volleyball with a focus on various strategies in high school.
Keep It Up
This is a great activity to introduce volleying and striking to your K-2 students. Scatter students throughout the area (best indoors to avoid wind), each with a balloon, punchball, or beachball. Give them time to explore playing with their balloon and teach them what to do with it on your stop signal. Then introduce Keep It Up, where the object is to keep the balloon in the air as long as possible by volleying it with various body parts. Add partner challenges to introduce volleying with another player.
Once your K-2 students can volley and strike their balloon with some control, try applying that skill to a little game called The Shephard. In this game, 3-5 students are designated as “sheepdogs” and stand in the center of the area. The other players line up on an endline, each with a balloon. They are the shepherds, and their balloons are the sheep. The object is to volley their sheep continuously as they walk through the “pasture” without allowing a sheepdog to tap their sheep away.
For students in grades 3-6, introducing the volleyball forearm pass can be tricky. Allow students to use slower-moving balls such as volley trainers or even beachballs to allow them time to get into the correct position under the ball. After you’ve taught the forearm pass (or bump), allow them to practice in small groups of 4-5 in a circle and play Passing 21. Always begin with an underhand toss to someone in the group and have them practice keeping it up. The object is to score 21 with 3 points made for every pass made from the air and 1 point if it bounces.
When your 3-6 graders have some control with their forearm passes and sets, Volleyball 4-Square is a fun way to practice those skills. Create a 4-square court with 2 students in each square. The object is to try to move to Square #1 by passing to other pairs in the square. When a pair makes an error (can’t pass the ball into another pair’s square), they move to Square #4, and all others move up a square. It’s played like 4-square, using volleyball passing, setting, and serving skills.
This is a fun activity for middle schoolers still developing their passing skills and wanting to play a game with their other emerging skills. In Volley Tennis, they play a mini 3-on-3 game using a low net (tennis height) or a line of cones. The object is for each player on a side to hit the ball (3 hits) before sending it over the net to the other group’s court. The ball may bounce between each hit if needed. Use a ball that has a decent bounce for this activity. Players may use passing, setting, and serving skills. If they are ready, you can add the spike!
Once your students have the skills to hit the ball without a bounce, they’re ready for Mini-Volleyball. This game involves 6 students per “court,” where 2 hold a rope for a net, 2 are on one side of the net, and the final 2 on the other. Play for about 10 serves, then switch net-holders. It’s super fun and challenging, and an Extension makes it even more so by challenging students to play without a bounce between hits. That way, you can differentiate students by skill level.
The 3rd Degree
Once high school students have their passing, setting, and hitting skills, they can apply them with a game called The 3rd Degree. This game focuses on using all 3 hits each time the ball is on one side of the net. In fact, they can only score by using the 3-hit sequence.
Royal Court Tournament
When your class has progressed and is ready for some competition with each other, try the Royal Court Tournament. This is appropriate for grades 5-12. Whatever game you’re playing, use this type of tourney to help students play others who are similarly skilled. In this tournament, they play for a specified time, say 5 minutes, and keep score. On the stop signal, whoever is ahead moves one court closer to the “Royal” court. The one who’s behind moves down a court. If tied, do a rock, paper, scissors (always best of 3!) to determine.
What are your favorite volleyball games and drills? Let us know in the comments!