Manny Johnson: Blog 9 at 2008 HP Youth Holiday Camp

Jan. 21, 2009, 5:13 p.m. (ET)

Day 4 sessions 2 & 3

Our second session today was another video session where we watched the reunion special on the 1980 women's Olympic team.  It was really interesting to see the history of how the game changed and training methods also changed.  It was also neat to see Toshi as the assistant coach on that team.  One of the things we pointed out to the players was that the skills were being done in the same technical manner that we were teaching them now almost 30 years later.  After the video we had a little talk from Heather Hughes who was an alternate on the last Olympic team and went through the HP pipeline just like these girls are currently doing now.  She was in Chula Vista training w/the Beach Volleyball HP camp.  She talked about the importance of setting goals and how you need to aim high b/c you never know what can happen.  Tom Pingel talked about how Heather's drive and refusal to take no for an answer was the kind of perseverance and determination needed to make the Olympic team.  Overall I think the girls appreciated seeing someone who has been in their position and how close they are to becoming an Olympian.

For our evening session in the gym we focused on volleyball's dirty little secret (as Neil likes to call it) Transition footwork and the transition game in general.  Neil calls transition footwork the dirty little secret because like sasquatch, it exists but very few people have seen it.  The team that works the hardest in transition will usually win the rally.  We use four types of footwork patterns for transition 4-4, 3-3, 5-4, & 4-3.  The first number is the amount of steps off the net (with a turn/pivot on the second step) and the second number is the number of steps in the approach back to the net.  The outsides and middles use the first two patterns and the right sides use the last two patterns.  4-4 and 5-4 are for situations where the hitter has more time such as free balls, while the 3-3 and 4-3 are for use in transitions where there is less time.  The key to any transition move is to come down running after you block.  Blaine and I had a long talk about the importance of the first step off the net.  Too many players land turn their body and then begin running.  I remember when I was playing our coach wanted us to land on one leg already pushing off to run; we don't teach that anymore b/c it can lead to injury.  What we do want is for the blocker to come down running and be more efficient in their movements. 

As for drills we started w/ball control having players do 6 touch pepper after pre-practice, we then had the players set in a triangle to work on facing the ball and squaring to the target.  We served jump floats to warm up our arms then went into butterfly w/setters setting 4s and 5s.  We then went into a Monarch plus 1 with the emphasis on serve receive.  We reviewed hitting keys and did some high ball hitting again. Then we did a transition wash drill 6v6 for the first time this camp.

Spiking keys
1 four steps
Right, left, right, left
    Right foot forward
    Small, big, bigger, biggest
    Slow, fast, faster, fastest
    2nd step on the 10 foot line.
2. Arms down back and up
 Down the first two steps
 Back the third step
   Up the fourth step
3. Torque/bow and arrow