When it comes to libero training drills, you can only spend so long passing the ball…
The majority of your time should actually be spent on digging drills, because that’s what separates the great liberos from the decent liberos.
I’ve created a list of nine of my favorite volleyball digging drills that are perfect for liberos of all skills levels and don’t require a ton of teammates to practice.
This makes them ideal for doing with just one or two other people.
1. Wall Digging Drill
This is a super simple yet super effective drill you can do with just two people and a wall.
The objective here is for the libero to stay nice and low in their ready position and to quickly react to the ball that’s coming at them.
Since the thrower is behind them, the digger won’t know exactly where the ball’s going so they have to be ready for anything.
The key here is to start low and remain low throughout the digging motion and to avoid popping up upon contact.
This is one of the better drills for improving reaction time.
The thrower can make this drill more difficult for the libero by tossing it harder or further from the center of the digger.
2. Turn & Dig Digging Drill
Great liberos have incredible reaction times and the desire to save every ball.
Start this drill by facing a wall and when the hitter slaps the ball, jump/spin around quickly and get into your ready position.
The hitter will either spike the ball at you hard or tip the ball.
Your job is to dig everything!
This is another super duper simple drill you can do with just one other player.
The libero should pay close attention to the hitter’s arm swing and should be trying to identify tips early while staying in a position where they can comfortably dig a hard driven spike.
3. Serving Machine Passing Drill
Using a volleyball serving machine is going to be one of the most effective ways to practice the skill of passing, especially for fairly high level men’s volleyball where people are actually jump serving quite a bit.
This is the most efficient way to drill passing top spin serves and it’s really easy to get tons of reps in.
If you’re playing women’s volleyball or at a lower level where you’re not likely to encounter many jump servers, it’s probably going to be more worthwhile practicing passing against float serves.
Still, every libero should practice using a serving machine at some point!
4. Knee Digging Drill
By starting on your knees and having someone absolutely beam volleyballs at you, you’re forced to make a quick decision between digging and setting the ball.
Since you’re fairly low to the ground, you’ll likely end up setting a good amount of balls here and so this is a great way of really strengthening up your fingers.
A big part of digging is starting low to the ground in your typical ready position and having to quickly raise your hands to set a ball that’s heading for your head/shoulder region.
This is a great drill for training that quick change of style.
5. Single Arm Digging Drill
When digging a hard driven ball, the vast majority of the time you’re not going to be able to get your arms together to form a platform.
Being able to dig the ball using a single forearm is really important and it’s a skill that needs to be trained.
You’ll notice in the above clip how low to the ground the athlete is. Maintaining that super low ready position is one thing to remember when doing this drill.
6. Libero Diving Drill
As a libero, quite often you’re going to be standing in position 5 ready to defend a spike and at the last minute the hitter is going to tip the ball.
Your job is to launch yourself forward to ensure that tip never hits the ground.
This is one of my favorite drills for practicing this very scenario.
Start in the typical ready position and have a partner toss/drop balls in a random direction/sequence that are far enough in front of you that you’re forced to dive to make the dig.
This is not an easy drill and beginners will definitely struggle.
Less experienced volleyballers will often be so concerned about diving that they’ll fail to make a good dig.
The key to this drill is to put first things first.
Simply focus all your effort on getting under that ball and digging it as accurately as possible – don’t even think about diving or how awkwardly you’re going to land until after that job is done.
If you watch Jenia Grebennikov (the no. 1 libero in the world), you’ll notice he rarely dives and that when he does it’s quite often not some super smooth, elegant dolphin dive like you see above.
Many defenders sacrifice the effectiveness of their dig in order to make a sweet looking dive.
Don’t be like that.
7. Bosu Ball Libero Drill
Using a bosu ball is one of the best ways to develop balance and stability while digging and passing.
If you can stand on an inverted bosu ball for 30 seconds to a minute while passing and setting volleyballs, you’re going to be far more successful when having to make tricky digs in-game.
The bosu ball is one of the most effective pieces of equipment for drilling balance and this is something I believe all volleyballers can benefit from developing.
8. Slow Motion Roll Practice Drill
The objective of this drill is to get athletes comfortable with hitting the floor by doing it in a slow and controlled manner.
By simulating a dig and then easing yourself onto the court and either diving or rolling out, you’re going to become far more confident with the idea of digging a ball and ending up on the ground.
The girls in the above clip are actually practicing extending from a dig position into a pancake attempt: the outstretched arm with the palm down on the floor.
Once you’re in this position you can very easily roll over your shoulder onto your back.
The more reps you do of this move and the more different variations you practice, the more seamless and confident your digs will look in-game.
You might want to get yourself a pair of volleyball elbow pads to make drills like these more comfortable.
9. Net Save Digging Drill
As a libero, it’s going to be your job to cover your outside hitter which means getting up nice and close to the net to defend against the block.
Every so often you’ll have to dig a ball out of the net which is why this drill can be an effective way of preparing for this scenario.
I would recommend the thrower, instead of setting the ball, tosses the ball quite forcefully and quite far to the left and right of the digger, so you can practice saving more difficult balls.
Parting Words Of Advice
Even by just practicing a handful of these drills, you’re going to make massive improvements on your digging.
Remember that the key to becoming a world class libero is being able to dig the ball better than anyone else.
At the highest level, all liberos can pass well, so the money is in digging proficiency.
If you perform these drills more frequently than your competition, you’ll quickly become one of the more desirable liberos in your area.
Massive shout out to Power Volleyball who put together several libero digging compilations that inspired this article.
Be sure to subscribe to them on YouTube for some of the best volleyball content on the internet!