Free Spiking Is A Terrible Drill

I recently wrote a post in which I made the statement that I hate the ‘drill’ we normally call Free Spiking. Given that I used the word ‘hate’, which is a pretty strong word, I thought it was incumbent on me to explain why.

For clarification, ‘Free Spiking’ is the spiker initiated drill that happens in most training sessions.  Click here for a good description.  What I will call ‘Alternative 1’ is the drill that I use for the same purpose that involves a coach playing the ball over the net to begin the action.  Click here for a good description.  Normally, I would do this from both sides of the net in an alternating manner.  To compare the two drills, I have prepared a table which looks at different elements in the drills and analyses whether or not the drills are more or less closely related to volleyball. Click on the table to expand it.

free spiking alternatives

NOTES ON TABLE

* In both of these cases, the players could start in the correct positions, but don’t necessarily.  Therefore we can call it a wash, or an advantage for Alternative 1.

**This is an important point. Two man pepper is an equally appalling drill, but has the advantage of more contacts in a shorter time.  In this case, that advantage does not exist.

So it turns out that Alternative 1 is better than Free Spiking in at least five game specific areas.  Free Spiking is better in exactly zero game specific areas and crucially, does not provide more contacts in a given time.

I would conclude that there is never a reason to include Free Spiking in your practice.

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3 thoughts on “Free Spiking Is A Terrible Drill

  1. Constant Tchouassi

    I do this exercise only Thursday, because this day we work game situations and the starting 6, my goal is to put players in their usual routine before the game. With a small variant, the side where there is the first setter . ” the spiker start back to the net, attack on the libero in defending, the setter have to move quickly to make a good set and the attacker must immediately communicate if he wants a high or fast ball. It’s more like a situation game and I PREFER another side normal old drill…
    Coach Mark players especially in France likes to stay in their comfort zone, and is so difficult to change old habits. Especially if you do not call , Bernadinho, Velasco, Beal, Lebedew etc..
    Like for example the girls game background, their way to occupy the space, their game without the ball, how their use free balls etc… So it took me a lot of times to put this philosophy in place and the guys have accepted it because they have seen progress.
    Thank you

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  2. Damir

    In the ‘Alternative 1’ description the coach tosses the balls to the libero. With multiple assistants/coaches the ‘head coach’ can focus on the attack.
    As I’m coach of an amateur team where it’s just me, I’d rather focus on the hitting because we can still improve there, so I want to be on the side of the hitters.

    Do you think it’s possible to let players who have already spiked to toss the balls? So the reserves are standing at the cart with balls instead of backline. I’m thinking to let the opposite(s) do the first toss because they’re the last ones in the sequence. When the OH has hit, they go do the toss, then the middles etc.
    The only disadvantage that I can think of with this is the ‘quality’ of the tosses, players sometimes tend to just throw the ball, sometimes impossible ones. The drilles loses tempo then..

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    1. markleb Post author

      I think it is great for the players to put the ball in, either by toss or even easy float serve. Because you are using liberos to receive, it is also ok if the toss/serve is not perfect because they have to work too. In this case, it is okay to lose a little tempo because you are also practicing something with the liberos at the same time.

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