Manny Johnson: Blog 10 at 2008 HP Youth Holiday Camp

Jan. 21, 2009, 5:15 p.m. (ET)

Day 5 session 1

We opened w/our pre-practice routine, worked w/the setters, and then went into defense.  We focused on digging high and off the net, 10 feet off the net, 20 feet in the air, in the middle of the court (10-20-middle).  We went over serving and talked about some key points when serving.  It is important for the server to develop a pre-serve routine that is consistent and easily duplicateable.  This routine is individual and can include a bounce or two, a spin of the ball, whatever gets you ready to serve.  We also want the server to take her time; most passers are impatient and will not concentrate very long.  Therefore if you use all of the allotted 8 seconds to serve the chances of a bad pass are greater.

We introduced swing blocking and urged the blockers to stay inside as most balls get hit cross court.  Swing blocking is very similar to spiking and when done well very dynamic and effective.  The keys to swing blocking are 1) 3 steps (can be more or less depending on the situation, 5 if the outside hitter is triple blocking, 2 if the setter steps in to block a 31, etc) 2) Small, bigger, biggest with the feet 3) Arms down back and up 4) See the hitter 5) Get hands over the net in the seam.

We played some Monarch + 1 focusing on blocking and being smart as a hitter.  Neil told the hitters to kill the sets they could and hit the sets they couldn't kill; in other words if you can't score, give the other team the ball and play defense to create another chance to swing/score.  Neil drew a square w/four quadrants in the first quadrant (top left) he wrote "I am good", in quadrant two (bottom left) he wrote "I like the set", quadrant three (bottom right) said "I'm not very good", and quadrant four (top right) said "I don't like the set."  In between quads one and two Neil wrote "Go for it." Meaning if you are good and you like the set grip it and rip it as John Daly used to say.

In between quads four and three Neil wrote "Hit it in the court and get better, so if you are not very good then you must hit the ball in and work on getting better.  Between quads two and three it said "wisdom to know the difference" this means that hitters good and bad need to know what sets they can swing for kills and what sets they need to give back and live to dig.  Between quads one and four it said "practice mindful reps" meaning that in order to get into quad one (I'm good) from quad four (I'm not good) players need to practice mindful reps.  So if I am not good then at hitting then I need to breakdown what part of hitting I am struggling with and concentrate on fixing that when I practice hitting.

We finished w/a discussion about how volleyball really is quite simple.  If you pass off the net, set off the net and hit it in you will win more often than not.  Going further Neil said that volleyball can be broken down to 6 simple steps 1) serve in (hit it in) 2) pass on our side (pass off the net) 3) dig on our side (off the net again) 4) set off the net 5) hit in 6) add water and repeat.  Sprinkle in effort and meaningful talk and you're looking at a championship team.