You have to start teaching them while they’re young, and between the ages of eight and ten, children are at the perfect age to develop the most basic volleyball skills.
During this time, there’s no point in teaching them how to spike balls or complicated plays. Given their physical restrictions in height and strength, they’ll only be able to do that when they’re a bit older.
The most important volleyball drills for 8-10 year olds are passing and movement drills. At this age, they score points by simply keeping the ball in play, not by spiking.
To help you understand better, we’ll take a look at a few examples of passing and movement drills I personally learned when I was that age and figure out how they work!
Volleyball Passing Drills for 8-10 Year Olds
Aside from doing the most regular drills, such as simply passing in duos or trios, children should advance to more complex and demanding drills at this stage of their development.
The three drills I’d suggest are the passing ladder drill, the pass and cover drill, and the pass and go drill.
The Passing Ladder Drill
The passing ladder drill is supposed to teach children how to properly receive a serve. I cannot stress this enough – this is one of the most common mistakes children make when playing volleyball, which makes receiving the serve one of the most important moves to master.
The passing ladder is perfect for that.
You’ll need four players for it. One player will only be serving the ball, which helps them practice their serve!
Another player stands in front of the net, at the setter’s spot. Their job is to simply receive the ball – they’re the target.
The players with the most difficult job are the two players in the back of the court.
As the serving player hits the ball, one of the two backline players will have to receive it with a forearm pass and pass it to the setter.
The key to this drill is communication – the ball won’t fly perfectly at one or the other player. The two of them will have to figure out who’s closest to the ball and get the ball!
That’s how this volleyball drill teaches 8-10 year olds about classic and sideways forearm passes, as well as communication and a little bit about movement.
The Pass and Cover Drill
Another drill that helps with both passing and movement!
It requires at least four players (although you can line up as many as you’d like).
Half the players line up at one side of the court, the rest form a line at the other side. The first player in line should stand at the back of the court.
The player then serves the ball to the other side and immediately goes to the back of the line. The player on the other side sends the ball back with a forearm pass and moves to the back of the line quickly.
The players on both sides of the court then pass to one another with forearm passes and immediately go to the back of the line.
Since only one player is covering their side of the court at one time, they’ll have to be quick on their feet and good with their passing range to send the ball back.
This drill is equally teaching them about quick positioning and passing at the same time.
The Pass and Go Drill
This drill is similar to the pass and cover drill, but it’s even more intense.
Once again, you need at least four, but you can use even more players. Split them in half and line them up.
One of the players serves the ball to the other side, and the player from the other side receives the ball and sends it to the setter, who should be by the net. The setter then passes the ball back to the player who originally received it, and that player sends the ball to the other side of the court with a forearm pass.
Then, that player moves into the setter’s position, while another player takes their place.
In case you’re confused, here’s a simplified explanation.
Ball is served -> player 1 receives it and passes to the setter with a forearm pass -> setter passes it back -> player 1 sends the ball across the court with a forearm pass -> player 1 runs to take the setter’s spot -> the spotter goes to the end of the line.
Along with the passing ladder and the pass and cover drill, this drill will go a long way in teaching kids how to pass under pressure. Combine this with the most basic passing drills, such as passing in duos or passing against a wall, and you’ll see a lot of improvement in passing.
Now, it’s time to move on to movement drills!
Volleyball Movement Drills for 8-10 Year Olds
Before I start, I need to point out that movement and passing drills are sometimes very similar. As you might have noticed, all three passing drills involve a little bit of movement training – some more than others.
You need to make a lot of small steps to get yourself in the right position to hit the ball in volleyball, which makes movement and passing inseparable. Therefore, don’t be confused if some of these drills seem like they focus on both things at the same time!
The three drills I’d suggest are the stop and go drill, the out of bounds drill, and the backward run drill.
The Stop and Go Drill
To be honest, I hated this drill. But I now see just how valuable it is, as it taught me how to quickly react.
The purpose of the drill isn’t only to teach quicker movements, but to shorten reaction time. It should teach children to start moving as soon as their brains receive the information about where the ball will strike.
This drill is done individually. A player is placed in the middle of the court, while 8 cones (each one is numbered) are set on the court lines.
Simply, the coach shouts a number, and the player has to touch the cone as quickly as possible.
As the drill starts, the children will obviously have a little trouble remembering the numbers assigned to the cones, but they’ll get it pretty quickly.
A good result is a player who starts moving as soon as they hear the number.
The time it takes them to get from the middle of the court to the cone isn’t important here – that’ll come later. It’s important that they react quickly!
A bad result is a player who delays their reaction. You shout out a number, and they need a moment to start running. This player needs to work on reaction drills more than other players, as that kind of delay will cost you a point in the middle of the game.
Another bad result is a player touching the wrong cone. This will definitely happen at the beginning of the drill (probably to every single player), but they should understand the numbers after you’ve run the drill a few times.
When it comes to reaction time and getting low quickly, this is the best exercise I’ve ever had when I was a child!
The Out of Bounds Drill
Our last drill focused on reaction time, and not on speed of movement. This drill focuses on movement speed!
Once again, you place a player in the middle of the court and you throw the ball (you’ll gauge how quickly or slowly the ball needs to be thrown) out of bounds.
The player has to get to it before it touches the ground and pass it back into their half of the court.
This will teach them speed and passing under pressure. More than anything, it will teach them how to choose direction and quickly turn. Given that reaction time is crucial when you have to save a ball from going out of bounds, you can see how this drill relates to the stop and go drill!
The Backward Run Drill
Finally, we have the backward run drill.
Sometimes, when the ball is headed behind a player, their first instinct won’t be to run backwards, but to turn around. There are times when that’s the way to go, and there are situations when running backwards puts them in the best position.
The goal of this drill is for young players to learn when to run backwards (and how to do it quickly) and when to turn around and run normally.
You can split your players in half and have them throw balls at one another randomly. They should sometimes throw the ball just behind the player receiving it (in which case, that player should run backwards), or throw it so far behind that the player has to turn around and run.
Run this drill over and over again, and your players will soon know exactly when to run backwards and when to turn around and run normally.
This teaches them quick ball flight assessment, and it drills their reaction time. The most important aspect is that they’re getting the hang of running backwards, which can be tricky at first!
There you have it, six volleyball drills for 8-10 year olds focusing on passing and movement that will surely take their game to the next level. I personally ran these drills when I was that age, and older coaches at the senior level ran these drills, but obviously on a higher, more intense level.
I strongly suggest you incorporate them into your training drill regime, as now’s the right time for kids to start refining their passing and movement. The next step, of course, is learning how to spike balls and develop a more aggressive playing style.
This is something that we’ll focus on in the future!