So you want to get better at volleyball, but you only have so much time in the gym to work on your game. What do you do?
I’ll tell you what you do. Go into your garage, grab your volleyball, and get outside. Now what, you ask?
Keep reading to learn how to get better at volleyball by yourself.
And like I tell all my players, before you do any drills, ensure you do proper warmups to prevent injuries. In addition, don’t forget to do lots and lots of conditioning to stay in shape.
Let’s get on with mastering how to practice volleyball alone.
Drill #1 - Pepper
Everybody loves a little pepper, right? I’m not talking about food. I’m talking volleyball. Pepper is a great drill when you are warming up for a match or practicing volleyball at home.
There are two ways you can do this drill at home. First, if there is another player available, you can pepper together. Or if you’re alone, you just need a wall, and you can pepper too!
In either case, the progression of the drill is the same – Bump, Set, Spike, continuing for as long as possible.
If playing with a partner, the sequence looks like this:
Player 1 – Bump to Player 2
Player 2 – Set to Player 1
Player 1 – Hit to Player 2
Player 2 – Bump to Player 1
Player 1 – Set to Player 2
Player 2 – Hit to Player 1
And that sequence continues on repeat, for as long as you can.
If playing against a wall, the sequence starts with tossing the ball against the wall, and on the rebound, you pass the ball to the wall.
On the next rebound, you set the ball to the wall, and on the subsequent rebound, you hit the ball into the wall. When the ball comes off the wall from the hit, you bump it to the wall and continue the sequence.
In both scenarios, there will be errant shots along the way, so just scoop up the ball and reset the sequence from the beginning.
The drill’s goal is to concentrate on your form for each type of shot, play under control, but hit the ball hard enough that you or your partner have to work on getting the pass up.
Drill #2 - Pass/Set To Yourself
How are your passing and setting? Any good volleyball player will understand you can never work on either of those too much. They are too crucial to the game!
Passing and setting to yourself is an excellent combination of at-home volleyball drills. And there are a few different ways to do this.
In this drill, you’ll start by tossing the ball up and then just bump the ball up continuously while using good form and keeping the ball in front of you and under control.
Start by bumping the ball up about the same height (a few feet in the air), and once you establish a good rhythm, start varying your height.
Initially move from low to medium to high and back down again, then vary each bump with a different height to keep it mixed up. Try to go as long as you can and when you have to start over, try to beat your previous best.
Now try to do the same as above, except with only one hand. It may take longer to progress through different heights, but stay focused and concentrate on good form. Also, make sure you work both the right and left arms.
Ideally, I want you to use two arms while playing, but you never know when just one arm will come in handy!
Another drill to help with passing is to do it from your knees. For this drill, start with both knees on the ground, then lift your right knee so it is directly in front of you at a 90-degree angle.
Toss the ball up and start bumping the ball up in a controlled manner so you aren’t moving from side to side and falling over. Once you get a good rhythm at a low height, you can start bumping up higher.
Once you get quality reps in with your right knee up, switch knees and repeat the process.
An easy setting drill is just to stand and set the ball straight up. However, you want to concentrate on your form and keep your hands soft.
Once you get comfortable, you can vary things. You can set either or both sides, so you must shift your body to get under the ball. You can do a low/medium/high progression to vary the height of the ball.
Lying Down Setting
For this one, you will do the same thing as when standing, except for the side-to-side movement. This position will be more difficult because you can’t move your feet to account for a set that doesn’t go straight up. So focus on your technique and keep a continuous flow of sets for as long as possible.
You can also do the low/medium/high and mixed progressions.
Drill #3 - Pass/Set To The Wall
The next group of individual volleyball drills will have crossover with the drills just mentioned. However, there will be a couple of differences. But they will improve your game if you have a wall available!
Wall Passing (Stationary)
This drill is just as it sounds and should be completed before the next one.
To start, toss the ball up and pass it into the wall. Then, if you want, you can do one rep at a time (toss, pass, catch, repeat). Or you can start with a continuous flow, where you pass it back to the wall with each rebound.
Focus on good form and establishing a steady rhythm while keeping the ball in front of you.
The goal is to generate consistent passes where you remain standing in one place or moving slightly to adjust. But you want to pass the ball to the same spot on the wall.
Once you have quality reps with two hands, you can switch to one-handed, starting with reps and then moving to continuous. Don’t forget to change hands!
Wall Passing (Stationary)
This drill will incorporate movement to provide more of a challenge.
First, pass the ball up and down the wall to different heights. There doesn’t have to be a set pattern – you can climb the ladder with the ball up and down or just vary it with each pass.
The goal is to get comfortable applying different power to passes and being able to make adjustments receiving the ball.
Second, pass the ball at different distances to the wall. Start close with quicker, softer passes, then take steps back, building to stronger passes.
You can also vary the distance with each pass to make yourself move more, but make sure you stay under control!
Here are two bonus passing drill variations using the above as a baseline. First, use a slanted roof on your house instead of a wall. Second, add in passing from your right and left sides instead of facing the wall directly.
Wall Setting (Stationary)
This drill will be very similar to Wall Passing (Stationary) above, except instead of passing, you are setting.
Focus on your technique and keep soft hands. You want to set the ball to the same spot so you don’t move and can get into a good rhythm.
Wall Setting (Movement)
After setting and remaining stationary, then you can try movement. Which, in this case, will be similar to Wall Passing (Movement) above.
Start by setting the ball up and down the wall and making the necessary adjustment to maintain quality sets. Then switch to starting close and moving further away from the wall. After that, vary your distances with each set to keep you on your toes!
Drill #4 - Hit/Serve Against The Wall
As you can see, a wall is a perfect teammate when you’re trying to come up with volleyball drills to do by yourself. And not only does it help you with passing and setting, but it can also help you with your power game.
Now the focus is shifting to hitting and serving, and here are some drills to strengthen your game.
Hit Against The Wall
In this drill, you want to start by standing about 10 to 15 feet from the wall. Then, you will aim to hit the spot on the floor about 4 to 6 feet from the wall.
Start by just throwing the ball at that spot and catching the rebound off the wall when it comes back to you. Not only will this allow you to eye up the ball rebound, but it will also help loosen up your arm before hitting.
Once you are comfortable with the right spot to hit on the floor, move on to hitting the ball. Toss the ball up and focus on hitting the ball down to the same place on the floor.
Remember to focus on your technique – move your arm back to the ready position, hit the ball with your fingers wide to get maximum coverage, and snap your wrist when you make contact with the ball.
Start by doing the drill with single reps, catching the ball after each rebound. Once you are comfortable, then hit the ball continuously on the rebound.
When you do this, make sure you are using good hitting form each time and hitting the ball consistently, so you aren’t moving all over the place and chasing it down. That’s a form killer.
Serve Against The Wall
In addition to hitting against the wall, you can also use the wall to practice your serves.
In this drill, you want to move from where you were above to about 20 feet. Ideally, you’d like to be 30 feet away, but if that’s not an option, that’s fine. If you need to be closer, that’s fine too. You will need to adjust the power you put on the ball.
If you can, tape off a line or box 8 feet above the ground, and once you’re lined up, start serving towards your target (above the line or in the box).
As with all of these drills, focus on your technique. In this case, toss the ball high enough and in front of you so you can step into the ball and generate power when your weight transfers from your back to your front foot. And don’t forget to follow through!
Drill #5 - Hitting Footwork
This drill is a simple one where you don’t need any equipment. Or a wall, and you just need a little space for your approach and jump.
I always tell my players that good hitting starts with good footwork. So make sure you spend some time on this!
For this drill, use your three-step approach. Your first step will be a large step forward with the foot opposite your hitting arm (so left foot if you hit with your right arm). As you take that first step, swing your arms down and behind you.
Your second step will then be with your right foot (in this case), and as you step, you start to swing your arms forward, which provides additional momentum for jumping.
Then for your third and final step, move your left foot forward right next to your right foot and jump in the air. Your arms should be swinging up forcefully, helping you jump. As you jump, you want to cock your hitting arm back with your hand by your ear and then swing at an imaginary volleyball at the top of your jump.
Make sure you swing all the way through after you “hit the ball.” Your follow-through will generate more power. Do this as often as you need to to build that rhythm.
The Final Set
As you can see, there are many ways you can practice volleyball alone. And if you want to take your game to the next level, then putting time outside your usual practice schedule with your team is the way to do it.
So grab that volleyball and get to work!