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Cover: considerations for establishing your team defense
Considerations for Establishing Your Team Defense

with Cliff Hastings,
Parkland College Head Coach;
Back-to-Back NJCAA DII National Champions (2015-16) - finished a perfect 57-0 in 2015;
Back-to-Back NJCAA DII National Champion Runner-up (2013-14); 8x Mid-West Athletic Conference Champions (2009-16);
Director of the Prime Time Volleyball Club (IL)

Cliff Hastings has amassed an impressive .905 winning percentage in nearly a decade as the head coach at Parkland College. His efforts led to back-to-back NJCAA D-II National Championships in 2015 & 2016 (following back-to-back NJCAA D-II National Championship runner-ups in 2013 & 2014) and it's clear that Hastings knows what it takes to build a winning program.

In this video, you'll see Coach Hastings cover his essentials for team defense. He focuses on back row play, collaborative drills, and improving control to help you boost the effectiveness of your team in the defensive portion of the game.

Back Row Position Qualities

Each back-row position is unique such that the outside positions move forward and backward most frequently while the middle-back defender performs more side-to-side movements. We should put our players in the back-row position that they are most likely to succeed in. You'll see Coach Hastings cover a number of topics, including:

  • Why it's important for coaches to know their players and to understand the best way to use them effectively in the back row.
  • Warm-ups that include segments where players pass the ball while moving forward and backward. Alternatively, they can focus on the side-to-side skill that is needed from the middle-back position.
  • The Shuffle Passing drill, which is used to focus on footwork and maintaining good body control.
  • Having players self-evaluate the skills being taught and putting them into practical game-like situations to improve performance and skill level.
  • The Knee-pad drill, which is used to make sure players pass with the chest up, hips forward and in a neutral position at impact.

6-on-6 Collaborative Drills

With this video, you will learn how to incorporate collaborative drills into your team practices to gain a clear picture of what you should cover the most with your defense. Too often, coaches lose sight of the simple things when they go into attack mode and miss out on making the little changes needed to be successful in defending every aspect of an offense. You will see:

  • The Backpedal drill, which is used to force the passer to exit the court after a good pass by backpedaling.
  • The 6-on-6 Setter Dump drill, in which points are scored only when the setter dumps the ball untouched to the other side of the net. This is a great way to observe how well a defense moves to the ball on setter dumps.
  • Ways to decide which defense to run and who does what on defense in a variety of conditions.
  • The 6-on-6 Overpass drill that allows teams to focus on where they should position themselves in the event of an overpass.

Control Drills

Control drills will allow you to see and coach a ton of defense. Coach Hastings guides you through how to build a high-caliber defense and shows:

  • How a coach or manager can fill the 6-person role to run the collaborative drills when your team is short on players.
  • Why blocking middle hitters isn't a 'cookie cutter' approach. Coaches need to understand which offensive players are most effective and how to play defense with the percentages. For instance, if an offense has a good weakside hitter, you may want to cheat the double-block in that direction.

When coaching volleyball, it's important to understand the considerations for establishing a team defense. This video from Coach Hastings will guide you through a systematic approach to incorporating collaborative drills and skills into your practice regimen.

60 minutes. 2019.

Buy at Championship Productions

Cover: attacking: little things that make big things happen!
Attacking: Little Things That Make Big Things Happen!

with Ryan McGuyre,
Baylor University Head Women's Volleyball Coach;
2017 Big 12 Coach of the Year; Back-to-back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in '16, '17, '18 (first time in school history!);
former Cal Baptist University Men's & Women's Head Coach;
9x National Champions; NCCAA Division I National Coach of the Year (2011);
Named AVCA's Men's & Women's NAIA National Coach of the Year in the same year (2010)

In this video, Baylor University head coach Ryan McGuyre covers the fundamentals needed for coaches to get their players to become more dynamic attackers. This includes working on more deceptive and effective shots that will result in a higher kill percentage for your attackers.

Concepts Critical to Attacking

The foundation for the attack begins with proper footwork. Coach McGuyre teaches how footwork should look from small, to big, to even bigger steps and from a slow, to faster, to fastest pace. The first step begins when the ball is in the setter's hands. Once players can repeat the correct footwork, they can look at the double arm lift. While teaching the double arm lift, coaches should see relaxed arms out in front, then back by the player's side, and finally up by their side.

Through a series of progressive drills, McGuyre takes you through the process of training your hitters in the fundamentals of attacking, as well as some higher-level drills on how to become a more deceptive hitter. Some of the principles that Coach McGuyre teaches to make your players more dynamic hitters include:

  • Elevate - Learn to hit over the block.
  • Annihilate - Power the ball through the block.
  • Locate - Find the open spot on the court.
  • Variate - Change up your hitting locations.
  • Humiliate - Don't allow blocker to read your attack.

Hitting Techniques

McGuyre teaches the elements of attacking the ball with precision. The cut is performed with a thumbs-up attack that works well for hitting down the line on an outside attack. The wrist away works in opposition to the line shot and is an effective tool for an outside hitter used to scramble up the defenders. One way to incorporate the cut and wrist away attacks is to use only these two attacking methods during practice sessions.

Whether your team is big or small, it's essential for your hitters to have a full bag of shots from which to choose. McGuyre teaches how to help your hitters better understand the little things they can do to improve their dynamic attacks. There are many ways to attack the ball and part of being a dynamic attacker is being able to draw upon all of these hitting tools in combination.

Practice Drills

Finally, you'll see McGuyre break his athletes into three equal teams with a Queen of the Court concept, rotating after sideouts. The Jungle Ball drill requires attackers to only use pre-named attack techniques. This blocked training creates game-like situations for hitters to work on being more dynamic. The final round of Jungle Ball includes a "Whatever it Takes" segment where the attacker can use their whole bag of shots to create a dynamic offense. This is a great way to challenge attackers to tool the block, to be unpredictable and to work on all of their attack skills.

When coaching volleyball, it's important to understand the full range of attacking skills that can be taught. This video from Coach McGuyre is a great reference for any coach who wants to improve the details of attacking for their team!

59 minutes. 2019.

Buy at Championship Productions

Cover: building a culture of offensive aggressiveness
Building a Culture of Offensive Aggressiveness

with Dan Fisher,
University of Pittsburgh Head Coach;
2017 ACC Coach of the Year;2017 ACC Champions;
Head Coach for the US Women's National Team/Pan Am Games- in 2015 (Gold Medal) & 2016 (Bronze);
former Concordia -Irvine University Head Coach,
2012 NAIA National Championship (perfect 38-0 record), National Runner-Up finish in 2011; NAIA/AVCA National Coach of the Year (2011)

This in-depth video from 2017 ACC Coach of the Year Dan Fisher is a two-part video providing both the philosophy behind aggressive offensive play and the methodology of instilling this mindset in your program and players.

In the first segment, Fisher provides statistical and video analysis to compare aggressive and non-aggressive play. He examines mindfulness training and the process of overcoming the fear of failure to reach a growth mentality.

The second segment of the video moves into the gym, where Fisher demonstrates drills to train hitters on adjusting their approach, leading to an expanded range of attack. He examines the idea of corresponding approaches based on passes and sets to take an aggressive swing on a higher percentage of balls. The drills progress to 6-on-6 play, rewarding players for hard-hitting attacks.

Chalk Talk

Coach Fisher shares his philosophical background using many slides and stats during the first hour of the video. He provides a different method of keeping track of errors and free balls, while showing how he twists the coaching terms to help improve his team huddles during timeouts and after games.

During the chalk talk session of Fisher's presentation, you'll see slides, sample videos, and stats that detail:

  • What makes Pitt volleyball different from other programs
  • How Fisher defines offensive aggressiveness
  • How Coach Fisher developed his style
  • The science behind winning and losing
  • The problems behind only focusing on the positives

On The Court

Coach Fisher demonstrates multiple drills that encourage quick footwork to the ball and exercises that take away the fear of failure when playing aggressively. You'll get:

  • An in-depth look at the four step approach with a focus of getting under the ball
  • Step close drills to train your players to go in any direction with their approach
  • Butterfly drills that touch on a wide range of swings

By drilling your players to focus on getting their feet to the ball, they will develop a wider range in their offensive play. Throughout this video, Fisher reiterates that when players have a wider range, they will be comfortable swinging at any ball in any situation.

Also included are five drills specifically designed to help hitters become more aggressive:

  • High Hands
  • Line Shots
  • Shove
  • Swing for the Daylight
  • Tap and Cover

Coach Fisher does an excellent job explaining all of his drills and their benefits. He also breaks down the correlation between a player's mindset and their aggressiveness on the court. This video encompasses all aspects of implementing an aggressive offensive system in your program!

100 minutes. 2018.

Buy at Championship Productions

Cover: all access volleyball practice with joe sagula
All Access Volleyball Practice with Joe Sagula

with Joe Sagula,
University of North Carolina Head Coach;
2016 ACC Coach of the Year,
5x ACC Coach of the Year;
7x ACC Champions;
4x AVCA Regional Coach of the Year

Joe Sagula's work at North Carolina over the better part of three decades has been a model of consistency. He's led the Tar Heels to seven regular season ACC championships and also captured three ACC tournament titles.

This All Access video provides you with a look inside three UNC volleyball practices as Coach Sagula and his staff give technique instruction to athletes while running many of their favorite drills. Sagula's high standards are apparent throughout as he challenges his players to reset their focus and up their skills to championship levels.

Disc One

Using a progression morphed into team serve-receive, Sagula allows his athletes to gain a better understanding of how to handle the toughest serves. The drills presented in this session will help break down the serve-receive, improve tracking of the serve, and alleviate stress that is constantly placed on the passers.

Ever have your team get to 23 points but not 'finish' and win the game? In Sagula's game of Slip and Slide, your players will learn how to focus on finishing when the team gets to 23, while providing consequences when the players don't reach their goal.

Sagula does a great job of monitoring his athletes and delegating to his assistant coaches as his team runs through drills on multiple courts. The athletes are in constant movement, which helps keep them productive. Team drills such as 5v4 are conducted where the ball control techniques are emphasized and evaluated.

Disc Two

For the afternoon session, Coach Sagula begins with team cross-court pepper progressions. This drill can stress out players mentally, which actually teaches them to use better/faster coping skills.

You'll see the Tar Heels work through their process of over-the-net ball warm-ups with emphasis on ball control. Sagula doesn't accept sloppiness and constantly corrects players to raise the bar on the quality of each practice.

In the 1st Team to 5 game, players compete 4v4 and everyone rotates in the up-tempo mini games. Your athletes will get reps in front and back row offense and defense. Since players move to the individual skills court when not competing, the teams get smaller as they work to get to 5 points. When a team gets to 5, then the other players working on individual skills come back to the court to participate.

The rest of the session involves team play with rotations, which is helpful because you can see how personnel works well in particular rotations.

Disc Three

In the final session, the focus is putting individual skills and team play together to refine offensive and defensive systems. After a quick talk, the team jumps straight into a 2v2 over-the-net warm-up before progressing to competitive games. Some of Sagula's games include:

  • 3x3 Pass + Run
  • 4x4 Back Row Attack
  • 5x5 Setter, Front Row, and Middle Blocker

You'll also see other half court drills that are useful to create defensive situations for teaching players how to read/react based on how blocks are set-up or how attacks ricochet off the blocker's hands or arms.

As the team drills evolve to 6v6 scrimmages, Sagula takes time out to remind players to keep focus, stay sharp, and finish stronger. He provides information on how to read the opponent and how to score with a purpose.

This video gives you a unique perspective on how Coach Sagula interacts, instructs, and corrects his players at daily practices. It's also a terrific look into how he reinforces a healthy dose of competitiveness into the fabric of his team culture every season. Sagula isn't afraid to stop a drill and get players to refocus when he feels that the team is losing the purpose of the drill. If you want to see how one of the longest-tenured coaches in Division I runs his program, this is the video for you!

Buy at Championship Productions

Cover: donan cruz: practicing with a purpose
Donan Cruz: Practicing with a Purpose

with Donan Cruz,
Grand View University Head Men's Coach;
2018 NAIA Men's Volleyball National Invitational Champions;3x AVCA NAIA Men's Volleyball National Coach of the Year ('14, '15, '17)

In this video, Donan Cruz demonstrates how to create a practice plan that builds to focus on a specific skill. He will help you understand how to streamline your practice to focus on one or two skills and how to provide feedback to your players to encourage growth in that area.


Many times, the warm-up period of practice is spent doing non-volleyball specific activities. Cruz suggests creating a theme or goal for the practice and shows ways to warm-up with the intention of improving a specific skill. From there, you will want to build layers or progressions that build up toward meeting your goal for the practice.

For example, if the goal of a practice is to improve out of system attacking, then practice could begin with partner setting. From there, players could progress to setting over the right shoulder, setting over the left shoulder, and self-passing with a set to the right or left hitting position

Adding Layers to a Practice Plan

Coach Cruz has his team demonstrate by extending the concepts of a single drill until the team has progressed to scrimmaging while focusing on a specific skill. He explains how each element of the practice creates a new layer toward incorporating the skill throughout the team. Next, Cruz extends the original warm-up drill with new elements to provide an example of improving out of system attacking.

Live Drills and Feedback

Finally, Cruz demonstrates ways to provide feedback to your team collectively so that the focus of the practice remains at the forefront of the team's attention. Additionally, he shows how to provide feedback to individual players that helps them focus on improving that skill.

Among the many points that Cruz makes throughout this section, you should especially consider:

  • Players should feel safe to make mistakes in practice. Coaches should allow athletes to practice being aggressively smart with their attacks.
  • Each practice should be organized and well thought out, but you may need to deviate from the original practice plan if an injury happens or key player cannot attend.
  • Individual skill development will occur more or less depending on where the team is at in the season. Most skill development takes place before the season, but there may be stretches during the season where there are fewer games, which allows for additional in-season development.

This video demonstrates how to practice with a purpose. Coach Cruz spends a great deal of time explaining how teams can add layers or progressions to their practice plans in order to achieve their goals for the day. Cruz-coached teams have an excellent track record for improving year after year, and this approach can be implemented with any team.

46 minutes. 2018.

Buy at Championship Productions

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