SMASH: Teambuilding

Volleyball and Team building

A few tips for building a better Volleyball team, and helping to build a better work team along the way...........

Volleyball is a game which consists of one team made up of six (or more) players - individuals with different personalities, different needs and different strengths. Each player can improve individual skills and strengths with a little one-on-one help. One would think improving the players would make a better team; however, there is more to it. Often, strengthening the team is the key to success (and fun!).

The key ingredient for any work group or office is communication. Likewise, a successful volleyball team needs to communicate with each other at all times. The next step is for them to understand what everyone's role is on the court. While they may have their own specialty, they are better in tune if they know what is expected of each other.

Team building is one aspect of volleyball which takes time, creativity and patience. There are several team building ideas which might help in bolstering the team. We must also remember every team has its own personality, strengths and needs, so in using team building ideas and concepts, we must be selective in what our team is lacking and in what we can do to reinforce the positive aspects of what our team already is.

  • Create goals as a group – these goals should be a limited number, and should be within reach. In the early stages especially, goals should directly relate to things that your team wants to do during a match – not to the number of matches you want to win (you can’t control what your opposition does). One example of a goal might be to make sure you call for every shot in a match.

  • After selecting goals, come up with some fun ways to re-inforce goals – maybe have some kind of celebration if the goals are met.

  • Assign Players with some knowledge of the game to help novice players

  • Create your own internal team awards to re-inforce teamwork (most positive talker, best calling, best helping of other players)

  • Have a team uniform or dress theme

  • Travel to the game (whether walking or by vehicle) as a group, and get to know each other better on the way.

Building the concept of team takes both time and effort. Team building should always be fun, as people respond to fun with a little less resistance. Try to take the individualism out of Volleyball. Not only is teamwork important for sport, but it is also important for success in the workplace………and in life.



How To Ten Steps to Develop Team Chemistry

From Dave Cross

If you truly want to give your team the best chance at reaching their potential this club season, if you truly want to see them bear the fruits of the seeds you plant-you need to take the time to guide them through growing into one cohesive unit. Give the following steps to building team chemistry a try.

Difficulty: Hard

Time Required: 1 hour to develop - use all season

Here's How:

  1. Develop a questionnaire each girl must fill out about herself. Include questions like favorite food, music group, current and dream boyfriend, favorite hobby (besides volleyball), future career goals, favorite pet peeve-you get the idea. Collect them and read them aloud to the group-have them guess who each one is and write down their choices-then go through and identify each person and ask them to elaborate on their most interesting responses.

  2. Run a lot of team oriented goal drills with a consequence for not reaching the goal. But also add a team prize for achieving a certain number of the goals-like a team pizza party, or subtracting a certain number of minutes from a practice-or skipping a hated conditioning drill.

  3. Schedule a fun team outing-and make sure everyone can go-maybe take them to the movies, or bowling, etc.

  4. Run the Findlay Progressive Drill.

  5. Do "The Focus Circle


The Findlay Progressive

From Dave Cross

A Volleyball Drill by Dave Cross


This is a progressive drill; you will start with three players per side and at least three more per side ready to rotate in. Eventually you will advance to a full 6 on 6 setup.


-Three players per side: a setter, left back, and left front.

-At least three more players per side ready to rotate in.

-One coach is needed with a ball cart with at least 12 balls-positioned off the court at the ten-foot line (on either side).

-Allow at least 25-30 minutes to complete.

-How it works:

-The coach puts each new ball into play with a free ball toss into the opposite court.

-Each side must keep the rally going with a three contact series that ends with a controlled over hand attack from the strong side that is played successfully on the other side.

-All players count out loud the successive number of attacks after each successful one.

-Each time a side sends a ball over the net they rotate LB to LF, LF to the end of the line on the other side. (The setter stays put).

NOTE: Once the progression reaches five players per side the players rotate only on their side of the court.

-The Goal:

-A specific number of contacts that must be achieved are set at the start of the drill. (We use 15). A specific number of free balls is also set to achieve the 15 (for example) attacks. (We use 5) If the number of successful attacks is not reached in the given number of free balls the drill starts again.

-Each time the goal is reached another player is added to each side, in this order: CB, RB, RF. (Once a player has been added they are never removed.)

-Once the players reach 15 good attacks with five players on the court, they play a six on six 25-point rally game. The side getting the free ball to start each play should be switched every five points.


-Stress to the players that any ball close to in bounds should be played.

-Even if a ball cannot be sent over with an overhand attack on the third contact, the players should do everything possible to keep the ball alive. (Remember, they only get 5 balls to reach the goal of 15).

-The players must practice controlled attacks.

-Designate a consequence for losing the 25 point rally game-such as pushups, etc.


Vary the number of attacks played and the number of free balls to achieve the goal according to your team's level of play.


This is an excellent drill for ball control, sticking together in pressure situations and handling frustration. At first they will get frustrated and start to get on each other- guide them to realize they must stay calm and together to achieve their goal. The first time I used this was at the camp Findlay U. did for us this summer-and it took the girls quite awhile to get to the rally score game. They will feel a great sense of accomplishment when they succeed in getting to the game. The game serves as the reward- because all players love to play games in practice!



Getting Ready for a Match - Focus Circle

Coaching Tip

From Dave Cross

The Focus Circle

Have the girls sit down in a circle before the match and hold hands (if this is a problem for them point out the NFL defensive players hold hands in their huddles between plays). Tell them to think of something the person to their right needs to focus on in the match to come to be successful-give them a minute or so to think of something. Then pick someone to start and have him or her turn to the person to their right and tell them what they want them to focus on in the match (hopefully it'll be something you have been trying to get this girl to do). Tell them it must be something specific. They then proceed around the circle until they are finished. When the last person finishes have them finish with your team cheer-or some other cheer you want them to do. Then during the match when things get shaky remind them to focus on what their teammate asked them to do-this can be between plays or during a time-out. At some time you may want to throw in that if they don't do as they are asked they are putting themselves before the team-thus being selfish. People do not want to think of themselves as being "selfish".


True reachers are few and far between;
Dedicated to themselves as well as the team.

They are committed to getting others involved;
For that's the way problems are solved.

Reachers are up when others are down;
They help you smile when you want to frown.

They plan for tomorrow starting today;
Their future is created without delay.

Reachers understand it's alright to fail;
When the wind is wrong, adjust the sail.

Now it's time for you to decide;
Go for it, don't throw it aside.

If you're a true reacher, you must say yes!
You were created for greatness,
never settle for less.

Craig Hillier


"You won’t be friends with everyone, but you can be friendly with everyone."

"Small adjustments make a huge difference."



Motivating Young Athletes
Frank Lenti
Head Football Coach
Mt. Carmel High School

One of the hardest parts of high school football coaching is motivating young athletes to practice. To do this effectively, the coach has to foster an understanding of the relationship between training, practice and peak performance. He must encourage the athletes, provide structured training, and help them gain the self-discipline necessary for success and excellence on the field.

Effective motivation flows from the partnership between coaches and athletes. As coaches, we must understand our athletes as individuals and as a team ­ gain their trust and respect.

We must remember that we're coaching people, not machines. We must teach youngsters the mechanics of a sport, but we must also assist in building their character. Showing support and interest in all facets of their lives helps build an effective coach-athlete relationship.

A good way to demonstrate such personal interest is by working out with the athletes. It will show them that you've been where they are, that you know it's hard work, and that you're willing to sweat, too.

At Mount Carmel High School, we think in terms of attitude, motivation, performance, and success. Success is a journey, not a destination. Success is realized the moment an athlete gains a winning attitude, is motivated to set a worthwhile goal, and begins to move toward that goal.

A winning attitude is the best motivator. If athletes believe they can achieve their goals, they'll try harder and increase their likelihood of success.

A positive coach-athlete relationship lays the groundwork for this attitude, and the setting of clearcut goals helps establish it. Coaches should help the athletes set long-term goals and encourage them to achieve these goals through a series of short-term goals.

The incremental goals will keep motivation high, while giving the athletes an ongoing sense of achievement. Once the athlete begins developing a sense of accomplishment, he will be motivated to try even harder.

At Mount Carmel, we have our athletes write down a goal and the obstacles they anticipate in reaching it. We then identify the steps to take and the short-term achievements leading to the goal.

For example, if a football player wants to play wide receiver but isn't fast enough, we set short-term goals to increase his speed. Each tenth of a second improvement in speed will motivate him to try even harder. If he increases his speed enough, we will give him a chance at wide receiver. If he doesn't, we will examine why and set up a new workout schedule.

Incentives (material rewards for good performance) are commonly used for motivation, but may only be effective on a short-term basis. Athletes may become satisfied once they achieve rewards, such as helmet stickers or plaques, and the rewards will lose their power to motivate. We often have to increase the value or quantity of incentives to motivate players on an ongoing basis.

We do not believe that fear motivates. Fear motivation, or punishing players to "motivate" them, is only a temporary expedient. After repeated exposure to fear tactics, athletes become immune to threats, and continued punishment may destroy their desire to participate. It's difficult to justify using fear to motivate young players.

It's important to remember that athletes can motivate one another. We usually split the players into drill groups and score them as a team rather than as individuals. These training sessions help build team morale and make the players feel they have invested in one another. Each player has a responsibility to the team. We share the short-term goals of improving attitudes and basic skills with the long-term benefit of overall improved performance.

Motivation is simply a means to an end. If we provide exposure to positive ideas over a long period of time, we will produce a successfully motivated athlete.

To summarize, this is our Mount Carmel Credo: Attitude controls motivation; motivation controls performance; performance controls success. And there's no I in T-E-A-M.

Copyright © 2002 Gatorade Sports Science Institute - All rights reserved




The team (players and staff ) must know that they are all in search of a common goal. They must give all of themselves in a relentless pursuit of that goal. They must trust and firmly believe that all members of the team will do whatever it takes to reach that goal.


If there is doubt that a coach or player isn't committed to the goal, it tears down the strength of the team. We must have a trust and faith in our teammates and coaches.


We must have a passion for excellence. This passion needs to extend to every contact with the ball. This passion is at the heart of a strong work ethic in all areas. It should drive us to improve daily.


A good team has good communication. There is constant talk about what has just happened what is likely to happen and what or how each individual will respond in certain situations. On a good team the setter and the hitter are sure to compliment the passer if a good pass was made. The hitter compliments the setter when a good set is made. If the setter makes a good set off a tight pass the passer compliments the setter and lets the setter know that the next pass will be kept off the net to make it easier. The hitters and setters need to give each other constant feedback. A tendency might be that the hitters only give feedback when they do not get a kill. Neither the setter nor hitters can assume that the other knows what was wrong - it must be communicated in a civil fashion. Screaming "higher" at the setter when the ball is set too low is a command - not communication.

Communication off the court is equally important. Whatever talk there is outside the gym needs to be constructive. If complaining takes place, it is the responsibility of whoever might be listening to not allow it to continue. Talking about a problem with someone with the goal of finding a solution is constructive.


A good team plays with emotion There is a celebration after winning a point or sideout regardless of how it was won. Teammates draw strength from one another.


A good team learns to "feed off each other." A team player will still give to the team, even if she isn't necessarily having a great day performing. If I have not executed a skill perfectly, but my teammates have somehow made a good play out of it, I need to rejoice in our good play, instead of sulking about my error. I can often "make up" for my skill error by the way I choose to act about it. I can always control my attitude. One of the great things about being on a team is the fact that I have teammates that can pick up the slack if I have a bad day. In an individual sport, if I'm not performing well, my only hope is that my opponent has a worse day. If I learn to feed off my teammates, I can often work through the trouble spots and turn my performances into a positive one.


On a good team, people take part because they love what they're doing. They take part because there is nothing that they would rather be doing.


Players on a good team are eager to put in extra work. They want areas of weakness in their game to become areas of strength. They look forward to any extra time that they might have to work on these areas.


Leadership is a must. The leader(s) are respected by the staff and other players. A leader helps form a communication bridge between players and coaches. She is able to head off problems before they become issues, and take issues from players to coaches (and vice versa) if necessary.

A leader sets a standard of excellence for others to follow. She is consistent in her attitude and actions, on and off the court.

"Success has always been easy to measure. It is the distance between the team's origins and the team's final achievement...." Michael Korda