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As with serving, efficient reception of the serve requires a routine that passers must adhere to. This generally breaks down into assessing the visual cues from the server and assuming an aggressive ready position prior to the ball being served.
Visual cues from the server include watching their lead foot to see if it is pointed in a given direction, watching her torso to see if she is facing a specific part of the court and watching her head/eyes to see if she is targeting an area of the court. Once the ball is tossed athletes should quickly assess the toss to anticipate a float or spin serve. While they do this they should lean forward in an aggressive ready position on the balls of their feet with hands in front. In fact, they should see their hands at all times. Communication on serve receive is paramount to the success of the passing team and should be trained regularly.
W Formation: The “W” involves five passers aligned to receive the serve. It is a common starting formation for younger athletes and involves having three athletes along the attack line with two in the back, between the front three. There are many ways to do this and should be determined based on the defensive assignments of your athletes. For example, if you are coaching a young team with a 4-2 offense and everyone maintaining the W as a defensive formation I would recommend simply having position one move up to the attack line so that you have front-row attackers in position 3 and 4. Again, there are several different ways of doing this and some thought should be given to what is best for the level of your athletes.
Four-Person Serve-Receive: When you move your team out of a “W” and into four-person assignments you are generally pulling your front-row middle attacker out of passing so that she is available to attack. As with the W there are many alignments that can be considered. Among them are the “box”, “cup”, “horseshoe” and the “line”. When considering how to align your passers I suggest you consider the strengths and weaknesses of your passers over the tendencies of the opponent. That being said I strongly suggest that when you use a four-person formation you make sure that your team know two or three different formations. When they begin to falter a simple change in their alignment often helps in re-gaining their confidence.
Three-Person Serve-Receive: When considering your team’s serve-reception formation the goal of every youth club volleyball coach should be to get their athletes to three passers. There are many advantages in reducing the number of passers on the court and these include fewer seams between your passers and having you better passers available to pass more of the balls. Generally speaking, three-person alignments are in a line half way between the attack line and the end-line.