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Volleyball/u11 S/R formations


Hi Tom - I'm coaching an 11-under club team, all my girls are new to club this year.  I'm running a 6-2 with Setters opposite in the Rotation.  Because at this level there will be a fair amount of short serves falling in front of the attack line, I'm planning on using a 6 (yes 6)  3/3, person S/R formation.  I used a 5-person this past weekend, hiding the FR Setter, but it left the Front Center open and they just weren't quick enough to get to these.  My plan is that if my FR setter should happen to take the Receive, she can pass up and back to the BR setter.  Other thought is that serves that a FR player takes can be overhead passed back over, but I don't want to do that as we're trying to train Pass-Set-Hit (not all teams are at this level, which is a shame).

Part 2 to this question (sorry) is that we are setting from the Middle.  I haven't trained my Setters on this yet (it's early), but my plan is that if my Setter is switching from the FL, and the pass is in her path, to set the Outside Right.  If the pass misses and goes behind her, to forarm pass to the Back Left or back to the Back Middle (other Setter) to attack from the Back Row.  I think I need to train them on what to do with what sort of passes, so they're not left guessing.  Bear with me, I'm as new to coaching at this level as they are playing it, but it's become my passion and I want to position them to win (within Pass-Set-Hit) with whatever tactics, etc. that I employ.



Hello again!
I have finished my practice plans, and my wife has decided to take a nap.  So, let's get busy.  :)

Part I:  
Coach Mark:  From what you've told me, you're running a 4-2.  In a 6-2, every player would have front row hitting responsibilities; but, in your offense, only 4 girls will have that responsibility.  
Next:  I'm fine with a 5-person, 6-person, etc. serve receive.  You must coach your team within their abilities.  I've seen coaches of u13's trying to implement all sorts of stuff. It's not pretty, and it leads to frustration, unnecessary loses, etc.  
Next:  If the front center is open, then just allow the center back girl to move up.  It's legal. You may say, "In two formations, there's someone already there."  Then move her to the right or left, and move up the center back. This will allow you to have 3 short passers and 2 deep passers.  
Before we go on:   This formation is a HORRIBLE choice vs. strong serves; but hopefully, these 6th graders will be older and in different serve receive formations before they see those nasty floater jump-servers.  
Next:  If your fr setter passes it to the br setter....then what?  No, I think this is a bad idea.  Your girls are 4'9" and 75 pounds.  75% of the time, what you described will an immediate point for the opponents.  I recommend that front row setter just pass the ball to a front row teammate, and she can forearm set the other front row girl, or forearm set back to the setter!     
Also:  I wouldn't train "1st ball over with your hands," b/c even thought it may give you a few wins this year, it's catastrophic to their developmemt.  I don't mind underhand serving b/c I don't think it adversely affects their overhand serving future; but 1-balling and 2-balling will keep them from passing to target, setting, passing a ball over to a target......all the things that 13's and 14's have to do to be a good team.  
Finally, Sure, please use the 5 person "W" shaped formation, with the front row setter at the net and the middle back moving up into the short middle.  

Part II:
Rather than give your setters rules about where to set, I recommend you put "poly dots" on the floor at practice to show the girls the spots that you want them to set to.  Then (a) they maintain the choice of where to set, and (b) they will know WHERE to set the ball.  I encourage my setters to think, wonder, question, etc.  In this way, they will develop quicker, and be a better asset to my team and to future teams.  (Again, underhand serving WON'T diminish their value....I know people are squawking. No, I'm right! haha)  

I was once where you are.  My girls had to tell me what offense we were running, how to tape a wrist, and where the equipment was.  haha.  And all 6 seniors from that 1985 team are my facebook friends.  I went to my first coaching clinic in the summer of '85, listened to the clinicians, then told them, "My offense isn't like that," and explained it.  Their answer, "Yes, that's a 6-2, and we'll get to that shortly."  Embarrassing!  In public!!  

But, Coach Mark, if we don't ask, read, ask, think, wonder, read, watch experts, etc., then we don't learn.  Please continue doing that.  

And please contact me anytime here or at

Finally:  Would you please visit me at  I think you'll like the smiling faces.  :)  


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Tom Houser


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