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Cover: donan cruz: practicing with a purpose
Donan Cruz: Practicing with a Purpose

with Donan Cruz,
Grand View University Head Men's Coach;
2018 NAIA Men's Volleyball National Invitational Champions;3x AVCA NAIA Men's Volleyball National Coach of the Year ('14, '15, '17)

In this video, Donan Cruz demonstrates how to create a practice plan that builds to focus on a specific skill. He will help you understand how to streamline your practice to focus on one or two skills and how to provide feedback to your players to encourage growth in that area.


Many times, the warm-up period of practice is spent doing non-volleyball specific activities. Cruz suggests creating a theme or goal for the practice and shows ways to warm-up with the intention of improving a specific skill. From there, you will want to build layers or progressions that build up toward meeting your goal for the practice.

For example, if the goal of a practice is to improve out of system attacking, then practice could begin with partner setting. From there, players could progress to setting over the right shoulder, setting over the left shoulder, and self-passing with a set to the right or left hitting position

Adding Layers to a Practice Plan

Coach Cruz has his team demonstrate by extending the concepts of a single drill until the team has progressed to scrimmaging while focusing on a specific skill. He explains how each element of the practice creates a new layer toward incorporating the skill throughout the team. Next, Cruz extends the original warm-up drill with new elements to provide an example of improving out of system attacking.

Live Drills and Feedback

Finally, Cruz demonstrates ways to provide feedback to your team collectively so that the focus of the practice remains at the forefront of the team's attention. Additionally, he shows how to provide feedback to individual players that helps them focus on improving that skill.

Among the many points that Cruz makes throughout this section, you should especially consider:

  • Players should feel safe to make mistakes in practice. Coaches should allow athletes to practice being aggressively smart with their attacks.
  • Each practice should be organized and well thought out, but you may need to deviate from the original practice plan if an injury happens or key player cannot attend.
  • Individual skill development will occur more or less depending on where the team is at in the season. Most skill development takes place before the season, but there may be stretches during the season where there are fewer games, which allows for additional in-season development.

This video demonstrates how to practice with a purpose. Coach Cruz spends a great deal of time explaining how teams can add layers or progressions to their practice plans in order to achieve their goals for the day. Cruz-coached teams have an excellent track record for improving year after year, and this approach can be implemented with any team.

46 minutes. 2018.

Buy at Championship Productions

Cover: christy johnson-lynch: 'libero u' - training strategies to develop a dominant libero
Christy Johnson-Lynch: 'Libero U' - Training Strategies to Develop a Dominant Libero

with Christy Johnson-Lynch,
Iowa State University Head Coach;
2009 Asics/Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year;2009 AVCA Central Region Coach of the Year;2009 Big 12 Coach of the Year;
2011 & 2008 Elite Eight appearances; Coached 9 of the past 10 years 'Big XII Libero of the Year' award winners

The coach of 9 of the past 10 Big XII 'Libero of the Year' winners, Iowa State's Christy Johnson-Lynch, shares her thoughts on selecting and utilizing your libero and demonstrates drills with her own players. She gives suggestions on how to allow your best passers, including your libero, to get touches on more balls, and, how to be more active during a game.

This video will help you understand the key skills in your defenders so you can select your libero, in addition to giving you a clear understanding on how to utilize that libero to maximum effectiveness.

Libero Strategies

Johnson-Lynch discusses strategy and rationale to determine if you should place your libero in the left back or middle back positions, including topics such as the libero setting the second ball when out of system. Additionally, she provides thoughts on how to adjust serve receive to take advantage of a strong passer while also keeping your strong hitters in the best position to attack the ball.

Drills for Improving the Skill Set

Johnson-Lynch has her players demonstrate the development of defensive skills in seven drills as she explains the strategy and focus of each drill. She discusses how to work on individual defensive skills in addition to ways to get more touches from your best defender when the opponent is trying to avoid them. Also covered are out of system drills that train your libero to handle the second ball when your setter has made the initial pass.

Develop Attitude, Grit, and Intensity

You will see how to create more aggressive and responsive defensive players. By stepping away from purely game-like drills, Johnson-Lynch explains how drills that focus on speed and reactive skills can create defenders with more attitude, grit and intensity. These mental traits are vital for enhancing your overall team defense as well as helping you develop and train your libero to dominate on the court.

Throughout this entire video, Johnson-Lynch provides observations, insights and drills to enhance your libero's overall skills, including both physical and mental attributes, to become a stronger defender. She demonstrates these skills in simple-to-execute drills and provides strategies for using your best defender.

The skills you'll learn in this video are critical for developing a dominant libero!

48 minutes. 2018.

Buy at Championship Productions

Cover: implementing a volleyball-specific start to your practice: team warm-up drills
Implementing a Volleyball-Specific Start to Your Practice: Team Warm-Up Drills

with Craig Skinner,
University of Kentucky Head Coach;
2017 SEC Co-Coach of the Year - 2x SEC Coach of the Year;
2011 AVCA All-South Region Coach of the Year;
2006 USA Junior National Team Head Coach (won Gold Medal in the Under-20 NORCECA Championships);
former Nebraska Assistant Coach (won the 2000 NCAA Championship)

Craig Skinner shares his concept of time management and why the critical first 10 minutes of a practice help set the tone for the rest of the session. He shows how you can warm-up your players with a variety of over-the-net pepper drills that emphasize keeping players engaged.

Skinner believes in having a base of five core drills that can be used over the course of a week to promote improving a chosen skill. By incorporating the drills shown in this video, you'll find a way to break up any monotony that your players are getting sick of in practice.

Practice Drills

Warm-up drills should provide your team time to learn fundamentals while maintaining a competitive culture. Some of Coach Skinner's drills include:

  • Columbus Drill - A co-op drill that incorporates thinking and control.
  • Cover Drill - The defense goes into their coverage and then into transition, promoting offensive coverage.
  • Many fundamental transition footwork and passing drills.

Skinner concludes the video with his philosophy of why progressing as a team is more important than trying to be perfect.

Coach Skinner displays many drills in this video that are functional for the beginning of your practices. There are also many ways you can adjust them according to your team's level of play or to make them applicable toward the focal point of a practice. These exercises will promote playing with energy, get your players' minds in the right place for the rest of practice, and incorporate a focus on fundamentals.

55 minutes. 2018.

Buy at Championship Productions

Cover: simplified setter training
Simplified Setter Training

with Craig Skinner,
University of Kentucky Head Coach;
2017 SEC Co-Coach of the Year - 2x SEC Coach of the Year;
2011 AVCA All-South Region Coach of the Year;
2006 USA Junior National Team Head Coach (won Gold Medal in the Under-20 NORCECA Championships);
former Nebraska Assistant Coach (won the 2000 NCAA Championship)

Setters have become an integral part of any program regardless of the type of offense that a team might run. A setter's leadership, demeanor, and command of their peers' respect are all key factors in molding a dominant volleyball team.

In this video, University of Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner shares his methods to training a top-tier setter. He covers fundamental hand and body positioning and gives you drills that use props, such as boxes, to emphasize angles to better shape, window, and freeze. Skinner's drills will help your setters get their teammates to trust where the ball will be set while also promoting leadership skills and confidence.

Working the Hands

Hands are the key to setting technique. Coach Skinner shows how to use a physio ball to create some stabilization to isolate hand placement, movement and finish. This will improve the angle and timing of your setters' balls!

Once players have become comfortable with the correct hand technique, Skinner progresses to drills featuring a coach on a box. Receiving balls from a box and pass will allow athletes to continue working their hands while also introducing a footwork/base element.

Improving Footwork

Coach Skinner's footwork movements cover:

  • Starting in loaded position
  • Getting a rhythm to step hop
  • Step hopping forward, backward, diagonal toward the net, and back

To close the video, Skinner has a brief Q & A with high school coaches, adding insight and detail to the drills presented.

This video will help you create an aggressive setter by teaching how to dump, read blocks, set a low-passed ball, and take the ball out of the net. Learn how to take your setters to the next level today!

55 minutes. 2018.

Buy at Championship Productions

Cover: scoring real points and tactical serving
Scoring Real Points and Tactical Serving

with Beth Launiere,
University of Utah Head Coach;
AVCA West Region Coach of the Year (2004, 2006, 2008);
14 NCAA Tournament appearances;
over 540 career victories

University of Utah head coach Beth Launiere has put together a comprehensive skills and drills video capturing her fundamental coaching style. This video will allow you to watch and listen as she sets up drills for warm-up, serving, blocking, passing and digging!


Coach Launiere begins with her methods to score more points off the serve. The jump float serve is presented in detail because it generates power and accuracy into a small area. She covers why making a serve "Flean" - flat and clean between the top of the net and the top of the antenna - will make it more difficult for your opponents to receive it.

Launiere also helps you understand why it's important to accelerate through the serve to increase power. Finally, you'll see how to work on taking a longer approach with the mentality of "slow to fast."


Swing blocking movements utilize specific footwork actions that can be taught to beginners or experienced players. The pace of the game has sped up, which requires blockers to cover a large territory in a short amount of time. The Over In Two drill will help your team work on defending the pins. If you want to break down the defensive side of the game, this drill will give your players plenty of good reps.

Launiere shows how to help athletes focus on pushing off their back leg with a small first step to create momentum. Additionally, you'll learn how and when to move the arms to maximize the speed and power of the block. Launiere also covers how to execute a two-step swing block with a pause.


Next, you'll get an out-of-system game that teaches players to play 'uncomfortably to become more comfortable' when the ball isn't played in ideal conditions. Your athletes will learn to work with what they get and stay competitive. This forces conservative players to think outside the box and be aggressive without taking too much risk.

Eye Sequencing and Scoring Drill

Having player-centered drills allows coaches more time to focus on coaching instead of being too physically involved. Launiere's Eye Sequencing drill will help you break down certain types of digs and passes to help your players determine where the setter will place a ball.

Finally, a scoring drill is presented that makes a team have to try to score a point ONLY when they get the opposing team out-of-system. However, if the other team executes a perfect pass to win the rally, then they become the team with the opportunity to score.

This is a great video for anyone wanting to train their team to play better out-of-system, increase problem solving ability on the fly, and become better at serving the ball.

53 minutes. 2018.

Buy at Championship Productions

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