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Technical Development of the Volleyball Player

charles-cardinalBy: Charles Cardinal
Canadian National Team Head Coach
Excerpts from the FIVB Coaches Manual

From an athlete’s point of view, the reward and motivation comes from the fact that through training and coaching they are able to do today what was impossible yesterday.

Teaching the Mechanics of a Movement (Level 1)
At the start of technical training, no matter the method, an athlete must imitate a model as closely as possible.  This model is usually a coach or a successful athlete who demonstrates the proper execution of a technique.  To reproduce the model exactly, an athlete must have an accurate mental image of the movement.

A coach must ensure that the exercises are properly executed if he wants to develop habits which will allow the attainment of technical efficiency.

Familiarization with a Movement (Level 2)
A coach progressively increases the requirements on an athlete, while continuing to maintain a high level of quality as far as execution of the technique is concerned.

Following are different variables that can be manipulated by the coach:

  • Speed of execution of the movement
  • Strength of application or resistance
  • Distance to be covered for a given time
  • The height or length to be attained
  • By playing with intensity and recovery time

Calling for accuracy of a movement and consistency in performance: It is not sufficient in this stage to just return the ball to a partner; it must also be returned accurately.  Furthermore, an athlete must be able to repeat the movement regularly and efficiently, even if the conditions are changing.
Add, before or after performance of the skill different types of movements or changes in direction.  A coach can also introduce going from one skill to another or changing rhythm of performance of the same motor skill.

Technique will be assimilated as quickly as possible in a systematic but kinetic way, by modifying the conditions of execution.

Emphasis should only be on one role or only one technical element being stressed.

The technique becomes consolidated and stable so that a player can bring his selective attention to more complex tactical tasks.

Only basic motor skills are stabilized.  As soon as an athlete has fairly mastered he basic motor skills, a coach can introduce variations to these movements thus increasing his repertory of tactical solutions.

Developing Tactical Intelligence (Level 3)
The behavior of a highly skilled player shows efficient application of successive skills.  “This application of successive skills is the basis of team play” (Mahlo).
If a player does not need to focus attention and intellectual ability on the performance of these skills, he can instead concentrate on the more complicated tactical tasks.  “These combinations of movements will then be guided by kinesthetic sensations and by perception.”

It then becomes vital at this stage of an athlete’s evolution, to be able to pick up pertinent information on teammates and opponents so he can act in time and not react to a situation or the ball.  Pertinent information can be translated by reading keys that will reveal an athlete’s tactical intent before he/she plays the ball.

Programming of proper motor responses meets the requirements of a situation based on the gathering of pertinent information.  This information comes from the following sources:

  • Direction, trajectory, speed and landing spot of the ball.
  • Position and play actions of partners.
  • Position and play actions of opponents.
  • External conditions such as score, refereeing, rhythm and momentum of the game, lighting, space around the court, height of the ceiling, spectators, etc.
  • The tactical intention of the athlete playing the ball.

By creating actual game conditions in training, a coach can manipulate one or several of the following variables:

  1. Include the skill in a succession of motor skills
  2. Increase the difficulty of the task by properly manipulating the intensity of the exercise, the recovery period, length of the exercise, and frequency.
  3. Increase the complexity of the task so the player has to think about the situation and choose the proper response from several alternatives.

Integrating a Player/Skill Into a System of Play (Level 4)
At this stage of a player’s development, one of the coach’s goals should be the methodical development of actions (technical-tactical movement) and of tactical thought.

“Without common awareness of concrete realities and without harmonious tactical knowledge, the potential unity of play favorable to a team is not possible.” (Rioux et Chappuis)

The highest form of technical-tactical movement conveys the importance of the intellectual component through tactical awareness, topped with independent productive thinking.

It is creative thinking in the sense that new concrete solutions are found and that it is a source of new general knowledge.  (Mahlo)

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