Using Wave Drills and Games in Volleyball Practice

Wave drills in volleyball are something quite useful for working with larger groups of players, as well as working players through a high intensity drill in a way which keeps them from getting overly tired. Basically, this involves putting players into groups and rotating them through positions in a game or drill as a group. Doing so can be an effective way to minimize down time in the form of players being out of the action. It can also be used to move players into a less demanding part of the drill after going through a high intensity sequence.

A game like Winners 3s is a simple version of a wave structure. At the end of each point, one group of players comes off while another group comes on, and there may be a shift in a third group from the challenge side of the court to the winners side.

Another variation on this could be having the team in cohorts of three, then playing some kind of 6 v 6 game during which those cohorts are rotated through front and back court positions. A simple version on this could be to have a new wave come on in the back court position on one side after each rally ends. That would then cascade the waves through, pushing the back court cohort on the other side of the net off as the front court group moves into their place. This would allow you to have players on for 4 straight rotations and only off a minimal amount of time (1 rotation if you have 5 groups, 2 rotations if you have 6).

You could also do error-based waiving. For example, say you have 18 players. You split them into six groups of three. Three teams are assigned to each side of the court, two teams on and one off waiting. The teams play through a rally. One of the cohorts on the losing side is replaced by the cohort waiting on the sideline based on some rule, like which group was at fault for the point lost.

You can no doubt think of numerous ways waves could be put to use. In fact, you’re probably using them in a kind of ad hoc way right now. When you have front and back row flip during a drill or game that’s a form of a wave. The advantage of formalizing the wave rotations, however, is that players become responsible for doing so automatically so you don’t have to stop things to get it done. This will save time and help keep the intensity of the training up.

By Scott Gates