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May - 2019

Team Offenses for Volleyball

May 26, 2019

A simple definition to understand various team offenses in the sport would be to separate the number of designated hitters on the court with the number of designated setters. With that, there are a number of combinations that are available to coaches and these will have a great impact on the overall success of the team. The most common coaching error involves coaches deciding on systems of play that are overly complicated for the level of skill the athletes are performing at. Please note the many options available to teams:

6 – 0 Offense
Essentially this means that a team (generally a very young team) will have no designated setter. This type of offense is associated with the “Triple-ball” format now commonly used in the 13U age class in Canada. The coach must decide if the team will set out of position three (middle front – International style) or out of position two (right front – North American style). When an athlete is in that position, they must assume the role of the setter.

Advantages: Many coaches will argue that having athletes specialize at a young age is detrimental to their overall development. This system of play is designed to ensure all athletes get to experience all positions.

Disadvantages: My experience in this area is consistent. Children want to do what they are good at. Forcing young players to set when they would rather not does nothing to develop their confidence. All athletes get to learn how to  volley in practices but forcing them to assume the role of setting during competitions is misguided.

3 – 3 Offense 
This is a “triangle offense” designed for young teams to allow athletes to hit and set. Not commonly used, it is an ideal system of play for younger teams. To understand how this offense works simply think of a triangle on the court in terms of how the setters might be lined up in the rotation. For example, the starting rotation might have the assigned setters in position 6 (middle back), position 4 (left front) and position 2 (right front). That would create the “triangle formation.” When an assigned setter is in position 4 they are an attacker and they assume the role of setter when they are in position 3 and 2.

Advantages: This offensive system allows for a better development of setters than a 6-0 offense while not forcing young players to specialize at an early age. It can also be introduced with no switching to assigned positions or with switching in the front row. A great way to introduce positional assignments.

Disadvantages: The system assumes that half the athletes on the team have an interest in setting. For this system to be accepted with enthusiasm at least half the team will need to set.

4 – 2 Offense 
This is another commonly used offensive system for young teams. In this system of play there are two assigned setters and they will start on opposite sides of the rotation to allow the setter in the front-row to be the assigned setter.

Although most teams will choose to have the front-row setter play out of position two (right front) a coach can decide to have the setter play out of position three (middle front).

Advantages: There are two primary advantages to this system. The first is that a front-row setter can always attack the ball and with younger teams struggling with passing this is a significant benefit. Another major advantage to this system is the opportunity for improved defense. The back-row setter will understand quickly they are not responsible for setting and will be better prepared to defend.

Disadvantages: The primary disadvantage to this offense is the lack of a right-side attack. This reduces the team’s offensive options and allows opponents to key in on the only two front-row attackers.

6 – 2 Offense 
This offensive system is essentially the opposite of the 4-2 offense. Simply stated, rather than having the front-row setter set, the team has now opted for the back-row setter to set the attackers. The assigned setter generally plays defense out of position one (right-back) and will penetrate to set the three assigned front-row attackers.

That being said, the setter can defend out of position 6 (middle back) on a “six-up defense.” In this system the setter defends tips and block deflections and runs in to set from the middle-back position.

Advantages: The reason this offense is most often used has to do with the benefit of having three available attackers in every rotation.

Disadvantages: There are significant disadvantages to this system of play. The first is the risk of weaker defense with back-row setters unwilling to play aggressive defense as they focus on coming in to set. Another problem with this offense is the loss of a setter attack to help disrupt the defensive rhythm of the opponent. Finally, I love the expression that 6-2 setters are generally half as good as 5-1 setters since they only set half as often. With that I would say there is often a loss of offensive rhythm on teams that adopt this offense as two setters regularly set very differently.

3-Middle Offense 
This offensive system is an advanced modification of the 3-3 offense. In simple terms, both middles and the RS attacker are designated with an assigned number. For example, your M1 (Middle one) is allocated #1 while your RS is allocated #2 and your M2 is allocated #3. When there are two of these athletes in the front row the athlete with the higher designated number chooses where he/she wants to play. This allows middles to switch with RS attackers to provide a fluid change to the nature of their offense.

Advantages: Allowing mature athletes the option to switch positions during play provides teams with the opportunity to change their offense on a rotational basis. It allows coaches the opportunity to have athletes decide on their own how to change offensive options during play.

Disadvantages: This offense is strictly for the mature athlete who understand read defense and can recognize the need for change in their attack options. Not for the young athlete.

5 – 1 Offense
This offensive system is the most commonly used system in volleyball. For one thing it is generally quite difficult for a coach to find two equally talented setters so as to run a two-setter offense, so teams have relied on one-setter offenses almost by necessity.

In any case, a 5-1 offense means that the team has one setter on the court who is surrounded by his/her five attackers, unless a libero is being used. Working with one setter ensures the maximum development of that setter. No team can succeed without a setter who can efficiently deliver the ball so investing time in their development is time well spent.

Advantages: This is the most commonly used system for a simple reason. Finding two equally talented setters is difficult. Going with the stand-out setter is generally a safe bet.

Disadvantages: The front-row setter is not an attacker so there are fewer attack options when the setter is in the front-row. The risk of injury means that every coach should invest as much time and energy in making sure the back-up setter is ready to play. Remember, the best way to motivate a starting setter to work hard is to have a strong back-up setter.

Five Ways to Boost Your Income with Youth Sport

May 13, 2019

Like most non-profits, sport organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of paying for help. Gone are the days when youth sports were primarily offered at the local community centre with a volunteer parent running the program as the centre’s sport convenor. A difficult job that included the many responsibilities of securing permits for all teams to practice, confirming venues for games, finding referees if needed and the most thankless responsibility of all… recruiting parent-volunteers to coach. A formula requiring volunteers recruit more volunteers. Of course, this system has been a staple of youth sports in Canada for decades, however, it is falling out of favour and being replaced by the European-style club system.

The club model allows for an entrepreneurial approach to sport. Coaches can start a club like they can any enterprise. The stronger the coach, the better the opportunity to attract other strong coaches and herein lies the motivation to improve in the delivery of the program. The downside for parents is the increase in fees. Community sports were always an affordable entry point for parents of young athletes. The club system is not so affordable and with the higher cost comes higher expectations.

In today’s marketplace, an organization must deliver above-average service in every aspect of the consumer experience. That would include accessing information easily on the website, following team activities on social media, offering a variety of programs that are responsive to young athletes, not to mention general administration, bookkeeping and digital marketing activities.

Delivering superior programs requires a team of highly effective people and Volleyball Winnipeg is interested in meeting more people who would like to join the team. Financial compensation is always provided. Here are some opportunities available for the right person…

Camp/League Instructor  
Volleyball Winnipeg utilizes instructors at all its camps and for youth league teams that request the support of instructors. Participating as an instructor usually allows for a set training schedule over an 8-9-week schedule; the duration of a season of play.

Volleyball Winnipeg also offers summer camps that include day camps, Sunday evening positional camps and other evening camps. Youth Leagues and other camps are offered seasonally in the fall, winter and spring. Therefore, someone interested in becoming an instructor can find many opportunities in which to get involved.

Finally, anyone with playing experience can become an excellent instructor. No past experience required. Volleyball Winnipeg offers a series of educational resources to prepare for the training session. Instructors are provided with practice plans and access to private coaching resources that include sample training videos and practice plans to help them prepare for the training sessions.

Club Coach
For the dedicated coach, club volleyball offers a unique opportunity to work with the serious young athlete. Try outs are held in early December with the season running from December until Nationals in May. Age classes range from U13-18 with boys’ and girls’ teams being available. Coaches are required to become certified in accordance with Volleyball Manitoba guidelines and honorariums are based on the age class. Coaches for older athletes generally receive a greater honorarium as these teams will commonly require more travel and increased level of training which may include 4-5 training sessions per week.

At VISION Elite Volleyball Club coaches are mentored by experienced coaches so they are provided the best opportunity to develop and grow as coaches.

To be found on Google most well-organized sport organizations will use the services of photographers, videographers, content writers, and social media coordinators.

If you are an experienced photographer, videographer, content writer or have a great understanding of social media platforms, you should consider reaching out to Volleyball Winnipeg to see if a contract may be available for you to help generate much-needed content to help promote its programs.

Programs that require the use of photographers include seasonal camps; tournaments; youth leagues; adult leagues; positional camps, conditioning camps and so on.

Barter can also be negotiated with your son/daughter attending camps at no cost in exchange for pre-determined services.

Special events requiring videographers include testimonial videos at the annual banquet, videotaping training videos and testimonial videos at summer day camps.

Volleyball Winnipeg utilizes referees for its youth league, adult league (tournament only) and club volleyball tournaments. The organization offers a competitive remuneration formula and does not require formal certification.

There is a mentoring program for referees in which a new referee is assigned to an experienced referee for two matches. While the new referee is on the stand the mentoring referee assists as the “down ref.” After an initial probation period a referee who does not meet the league’s minimum requirements will not be invited back.

Program Director/Executive Committee
For the “A Personality” sport enthusiast there is the “once in a lifetime” opportunity to get involved and provide leadership and direction to the organization. The first opportunity involves being a Program Director. A Program Director is responsible for the delivery of a given program, such as the Youth League or Adult League. They are responsible for responding to general queries, ensuring venues are reserved, referees are assigned, site convenors are confirmed, equipment and merchandise are ordered and managing the program budget.

Executive Committee members are “big-picture” thinkers who want to help direct the organization into the stratosphere. Experience managing programs is helpful and an understanding how to manage the launch of new programs is beneficial. The organization meets monthly with an agenda that outlines short-term objectives and long-term priorities.

Interested in any of the above opportunities? Contact us today at

Things to consider when choosing a summer camp

May 2, 2019

Price isn’t an accurate reflection of quality

Many camps are little more than fundraisers for the educational institution hosting them. At these camps your child will find herself being coached by young student-athletes will little coaching experience and “Head Coaches” who are never present.

These camps are often among the most expensive with the “brand” (university institution) carrying the perceived value. Furthermore, the “Head Coach” for the camp will have an extensive resume that will dazzle parents. With that, their child may get to meet the head coach at Monday morning evaluations and then again at the end of the week during Friday afternoon scrimmages. When seeing a camp advertising a Head Coach with an extensive resume, make sure to ask for details on how many days he/she will actually be in attendance.

Simply stated, ask questions before committing to a new camp: Are instructors experienced school coaches; are they experienced club coaches; are they university-aged student athletes with little coaching experience?


Volleyball Camps are difficult to manage

The singular greatest challenge at any summer volleyball camp is how to manage the wide variety of skill proficiency among its participants. Even hosting “Elite Camps” are a challenge with a number of athletes attending hoping the experience will push them to elite status rather than having achieved a high level of skill proficiency prior to attending.

Furthermore, even at camps with clearly defined categories of beginner, intermediate and advanced, the result is inevitably a mismatch of abilities with a number of athletes rating their skill level too highly. As you can imagine, only experienced head coaches can manage this challenge and provide all participants with a camp experience that benefits everyone.

Camp instructors are not the same

When chatting with your child about his/her experience at camp you will likely find that most camps run drills that are generally fun and well-received by all participants. The difference between one camp and another involves the focus of drills. Drills without focus are little more than opportunities to touch the ball more. For example, a passing drill is not just a passing drill. Is the group working on footwork, communication, vision, or platform discipline? Experienced coaches will break skills down into elements that athletes can understand and will focus on these distinct elements during drills. Less experienced coaches will run passing drills, hitting drills and so forth. All perfectly sound drills but little will be learned.

Furthermore, error detection involves identifying specific bad habits athletes may have to correct. Experienced coaches can spot these challenges and guide athletes through the correction process by providing exercises they can perform throughout the summer so they can arrive at school in the fall better prepared to try out for their school team.

Things that are not important when selecting a volleyball camp

  • Where your child’s friends are going: Of course, it will be more fun for your son or daughter if they have a few friends attending camp, however, that doesn’t eliminate your responsibility to do your due diligence.

  • Coach Credentials: As stated above don’t get caught up in a coach resume. University coaches will find their next recruits at club volleyball provincials and not at their university’s next summer camp. Also, participation by these coaches is somewhat limited as a general rule.

  • Website/Sales Brochures: Quality marketing materials are no reflection of the quality of their coaching staff.

Things that are important when selecting a volleyball camp

  • Athlete Reviews: Any camp can easily capture comments and reviews by participating athletes. Video reviews are exceptionally credible as an information source for parents looking for feedback from past participants.

  • Parent Reviews: Most websites will list testimonials from parents who have taken the time to provide their comments. These are generally a good complement to athletes’ reviews.

  • Venue: Camp venues with access to quality gyms and designated space for lunch are essential.

Some final comments: 

Let coaches know what you hope to improve in... 
Take the opportunity during breaks or lunch time to see coaches and let them know what you would like to improve in so that they can provide you with individual attention on how to get your game to the next level.

Always hustle!
Every coach loves to work with athletes who always try their very best… even at a summer camp. Motivated coaches will work harder for their athletes and that applies to camps as well. Young motivated athletes will find themselves surrounded by motivated coaches.

Ask questions! 
Most athletes at camps find themselves too shy to ask questions, even though many others would ask if they could muster up the courage. Ask questions and be the hero at camp.  

Coaches appreciate it when athletes listen and do not juggle balls, bounce balls, or talk while they are explaining drills/skills. In fact, make sure to maintain eye contact, doing so will be appreciated by instructors.  

Stay Positive! 
As with school teams and club teams, coaches appreciate athletes who shag balls, support and encourage others and generally maintain a positive disposition.  

You get out of a camp what you put into it!
Regardless of the varying levels of skills by participants and various degrees of experience by the camp instructors, young athletes should make the most of the experience and stay positive. Camps are always a great opportunity to meet others with similar interests and these may develop into good friends.

-Coach Luc

Good luck and remember to have fun!!