What Is Pepper In Volleyball And How To Do It?

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As a former professional volleyball player, I get asked all the time: what kind of drills and preparations do volleyball players do to best prepare themselves for the official matches? What is peppering in volleyball exactly? Can it help you improve your game and reach higher levels of performance?

Peppering in volleyball is when two players take turns playing the ball while trying to keep the rally going without losing control.

The pepper drill is one of the most basic drills in volleyball. It is used in every age bracket and at every skill level. At the highest level, it is used primarily as a warming-up exercise. You can rarely see a practice starting without some variation of pepper, and before every match – it is an absolute must for every team.

In this article, I will discuss the purpose of the pepping, the multiple variations of it, and how to pick and choose the best players to pair for the pepper exercise. I will go over the best pepping drills for every volleyball position.

What Is The Purpose Of Peppering In Volleyball?

The purpose of peppering in volleyball is to warm your body up and prepare yourself for the challenges presented by the upcoming practice or official game. It triggers muscle memory and reminds the players how to do the essential elements of the volleyball game. It is just intense enough to make you break a sweat and stretch those muscles in a fun, engaging way.

In youth or volleyball beginners groups – peppering is used mainly as a teaching tool. So the players can get to know – and work on – the basic elements of the volleyball game.

It can also be used on the street as a fun game to play with your friends.

Is Peppering A Specific Exercise For Certain Volleyball Positions, Or Can Everyone Do It?

Peppering as an exercise is used all around the world because it has a specific use for every volleyball player on the court. It focuses on the volleyball game’s basic elements, the same elements used in practices and the official games.

Of course, the needs and requirements of every specific position and player as an individual vary. That is where the different variations of peppering come in.

What Are The Different Variations of Peppering?

The different variations of prepping are when you combine other elements of the volleyball game in the pepper drill in a different place on the volleyball court. You can use the pepper drill to increase the player’s court awareness, as well as work on the basic elements of the volleyball game.

As I already mentioned, the pepper drill is a massive part of the volleyball warm-ups. The variations keep the players engaged and the practices less dull and boring.

How To Choose The Best Partners For The Pepper Drill?

It is best to choose your peppering partner according to your skills and the ability to play volleyball. If there is too wide of a gap between you and your partner’s skill level, you will both get frustrated because the ball will drop too much. If your partner isn’t used to the speed of your attacks, he might suffer an injury like a broken finger.

Also, when picking pairs for the pepper drill – you must look at the player positions. For example, if you have two opposites, who both love to spike and attack the ball, and not one of them is particularly good at digging and receiving, they will struggle.

Can You Do A Peppering Drill With More Than Two Players?

You can do a pepper variation with three players. You can use that variation when a player is left without a partner. The best way to use the pepper with three players is to rotate and circle around, playing with one ball. In that way, they can all dig, spike, and set the ball to each other.

The three-people volleyball pepper is a more advanced exercise, and the players need to understand and possess the volleyball game’s basic skills to do it.

What are the best peppering drills for setters?

The pepper drill for the setters consists of movement and setting the ball on the net. It is very different from the standard pepper drills because the setters need a different skill set than the other volleyball players.

Most of the time, the setters simulate game-like situations. For example, starting at zone 1, running to the middle of the court, and setting the ball to position 4. At position 4 is the other setter, who spikes the ball towards him again for him to dig.

What are the best peppering Drills for opposites and liberos?

The pepper drill for opposite players and the libero consists of many serves, spikes, and attacks headed towards the libero for him to receive or dig. As a peppering pair, this is a match made in heaven. One of them wants to work on his reception and his digging skills. The other one wants to work on his serve and his attacks.

Sure, this might result in some competitive pepper drills ending up with a libero getting a ball in his face. But that’s the life of a libero anyway, right?

What are the best peppering drills for middle blockers?

The pepper drills for the middle blockers are basic digging, setting the ball, and spiking. The playstyle of middle blockers is mostly centered around reading the game and anticipating. That is why the middle blockers usually have the least amount of basic volleyball skills like receiving, digging, or setting the ball.

The lack of volleyball technique and skills almost always makes them bad pepper partners. But as I already said, the main part of their game is in the name of the position. Being tall in the middle, anticipating the game, and blocking the opposition.

The Final Set

Peppering is one of the basic warm-up exercises in volleyball. It is used all around the world at every level of competition. Peppering is a fun drill to engage your muscles and prepare you for the game. It would be best if you chose your partners wisely.

If the skill level gap is too wide, the ball will always drop, and both sides will be frustrated. There are many different kinds of peppering variations, depending on the players’ needs.

That is why it is preferable for the players to partner with each other based on their positions. The libero always goes with the opposite because they have the matching skill set for peppering. The outside hitters pair with each other, the same as the settlers and the middle blockers.

Jonathan Roussel
Jonathan Roussel
Jonathan is on a mission to help athletes reach their full potential. As someone who has experienced the highs and lows of athletic competition in different sports, he founded TheChampLair.com to help others navigate the journey to greatness. We provide athletes with the tools and resources they need to succeed both on and off the field.