You’ve just coached your volleyball team to victory in game two after a tough loss in the first game with a deficit of just two points. Your team is thrilled to have another opportunity to grab the W, but as a coach, how can you adjust your strategy for game three to keep your team’s momentum?

We’ve got three common strategies coaches should think about to continue your winning momentum (or recover from a game two loss and shift the game back in your favor).

Starting Rotation

The starting position of your players has a lot of impact on the quality of play. How you start your team can greatly benefit you, depending on whether you’re on attack or defense. 

Take into consideration that your player in the front left position on the court will rotate twice through the front row and once through the back row, while the person starting in the right back position will only have three opportunities to hit. Starting your best hitter at front left will maximize their hitting potential and give you more opportunities to score.

Since game three is played to 15 points rather than 25, starting this player in the right back position during the first two games could be a great serving strategy; however, it may not benefit you much in game three. Despite a great hitter’s killer serves, in a game three scenario, they get a significantly decreased chance to attack.

Serving Strategy

Coaches often make the assumption that if your best hitter is also your best server, you should start her in the back right, believing that starting your top players in the serving position is the easiest way to begin the game with points on the scoreboard. 

Great servers can get you points by keeping the other team out of the game, by delivering consistent aces, or the other team returning a non-attack, setting your hitters up for a perfect pass. 

A big part of your serving strategy also includes choosing whether or not you want to serve first or second in the final game. A strong serve can be a great weapon against a strong opponent. Opting to serve first eliminates one of the harder aspects of the game: passing. Especially in younger teams, players may have a harder time receiving serves, resulting in shanking the ball out of bounds or missing opportunities to properly set up their offense, resulting in scoring uncontested points based on the other team’s receiving errors.

Player Execution

As a coach, you’ve got to quickly analyze how your team performed in the first two games. Rotation and serving are great indicators of how the day has been going.

Ask yourself these three questions to help you form a quick analysis:

  1. Has blocking or serving benefited you more today?
  2. Are you having a good scoring day, or are you barely scraping by? 
  3. Is your team holding onto their mistakes, or are they living in each moment without worry of the last error?

    The answers of these questions will help you position and maximize your player execution that day.

While strategy is important, the player execution is completely dependent on the makeup of your team and specific to their mental state going into the game. Great coaches rely on knowing each player’s strengths and understanding their weaknesses to win the game. Your team's structure is likely very different from your opponent’s, so keeping your strategy fluid depending on the moment will help you bump, set, spike your way to success.

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