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Volleyball – On-Court Communication Tips

It doesn’t take long if you’re playing volleyball in a competitive environment (and maybe even if you’re not) to realize that communication is extremely important. Even in a 2-person game like beach volleyball there is a lot of conversation during and between plays. When you move to the 6-person indoor game the complexity rises, requiring even more communication. Here are some tips on how to improve on-court communication.

Make sure calls are strong and followed by action

There is nothing worse to see than a player calling the ball, making an initial move for it, then stopping to let someone else take it. A good call of the ball is loud and authoritative, leaving no doubt that player is getting the ball. Calling the ball three times – “mine, mine, mine” – is a good idea, as it leaves no doubt. The call should be followed by movement with intention (or happen at the same time) – nothing tentative. The only thing that should cause the player to stop going for the ball is someone beating them to the spot. Calling the ball and moving with conviction will eliminate a great many balls dropping between two players.


There are probably things which don’t need to be repeatedly said, like whether the setter is front or back row on the 5th straight serve. Saying it anyway develops the habit of communicating so it doesn’t get forgotten during those times when it’s more critical. In a way, it can also be part of the pre-serve ritual which helps players focus on the next point. If the blockers are calling the hitters and the passers are declaring their seam responsibilities, then everyone is getting connected with each other and prepared to play the next point.

Enforce communication requirements in training

If you don’t talk during practice, you most likely won’t talk during games either. That means you need to develop the habit of communication during training so it carries over into your matches. This requires making sure balls are being called every time. To encourage this, make there be consequences for not calling the ball, like not counting a good pass in a serve receive drill. Or perhaps offer rewards for good communication, like giving a team a bonus point if the blockers properly call out the hitters each play for 3 plays in a row. Incorporating a focus on communication in your training – and making sure everyone is aware that it is a priority – will go a long way toward getting the players talking with each other during game time.

Developing good communication on the volleyball court requires a fair bit of work, especially with inexperienced players. If you work at it consistently, though, it will improve quickly and eventually become second nature.

John H Forman