The 8 Best Volleyball Ball Control Drills

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In the game of volleyball, control is one of the main focuses. You have to be able to control where you send the ball so you can build up a bump, set, and spike play. With these volleyball ball control drills, you can help your players learn how to better control the ball for more successful plays on the court.

Single Player Volleyball Ball Control Drills

Learning how to control your hits when it is just you is an excellent way to kickstart your ball control skills for this game of volleyball. This allows you to be able to gauge how hard or easy to hit the ball in order to maintain a controlled hit. These are also drills that you can do at home to help you be ready for the next time you are on the court.

How the Pass and Set Drill is practiced to improve ball control skills in volleyball

Pass and Set Drill

As simple as it sounds, passing and setting to yourself can be a difficult ball control drill to master. This is because not only do you need to work on giving yourself accurate hits, you also have to adjust the height and power of your hit so you can complete the drill without moving all across the court.

The drill is very simple. Alternate passing and setting to yourself. Count to see how many hits you can get. You can also time the drill to see if you can keep the ball in the air for 5 minutes.

If you want to kick it up a notch, go from standing to kneeling, back to standing again while you are passing and setting.

Pass, Set, Left, Right, Head Drill

If you feel like a master of simple passing and setting then you can take it up another notch by adding in more ball control focused hits.

  1. Start by passing the ball to yourself.
  2. Next, set the ball.
  3. Bump the ball with your left forearm.
  4. Finish by letting the ball hit your forehead before you begin again with a bump.
Instructions on how the Pass, Set, Left, Right, and Head Drill is executed for volleyball practice

This not as easy as it sounds drill is a great way for you to work on your ball control either in a group or at home alone. Starting out your main goal should be to keep the ball in play for 5 minutes without dropping it.

After you master that, see if you can do the drill without moving your feet. If you need more of an ultimate challenge go from head to knee, knee, foot, foot, and back up to a bump again. See if you can wow your coach with your incredible ball control.

Players lining up before the game starts

Target-Based Control Drills for Volleyball

Target drills are an easier way to work on ball control. They are simple enough for beginner players and can be built onto to make them more exciting for advanced players who like a challenge. These drills also introduce a target for players to aim for when they pass or set the ball.

The target can be a partner who they are working with. Or the target can be a person in the setter’s position to help reinforce where the first pass should be sent in a game situation.

Partner Passing Drill

This is a great warm up drill to start with. Have players get into pairs of two and give each pair a ball. Have them start out with simple passing to their partner. Make sure they are talking and calling each hit as well as getting the ball to their partner.

You can advance or change up this drill by instructing the partners to:

  • Bump only.
  • Set only.
  • Pepper (bump, set, downball).

If you are dealing with younger, beginner players, you can start the drill by having one player toss the ball to the other one and catch their return pass ten times. Then swap. This is good for duos who cannot keep the ball in play for more than a few hits.

You can also have one partner make the other player work for the ball by tossing the ball long or short to the other player and catching the returned pass. After players run backwards and forwards for the ball, have them practice lateral movements by tossing the ball off to the side for them to shuffle to, catch the returned pass, and then toss it to the other side.

Don’t always go back and forth evenly. Switch up the tosses to keep the player on their toes. Toss two short balls in a row before doing a long pass. This will help your partner learn to keep their eyes on the ball and learn how to read a long or short pass.

Improve your ball control skills in volleyball with the Partner Passing Drill

Three Lines Drill

This is another great way to warm up for beginner to intermediate players. It focuses on backrow controlled hits to the setter who will control the pace and intensity of this drill.

You can use a coach or your setter to run this drill since it will be excellent practice for setters to learn how to place a ball.

  1. Line up your players on three back row positions and have everyone fall into line behind the first player of each position.
  2. Place the setter (target) in the front middle of the court.
  3. The player will pass the ball back to the setter and then run to the back of another line.
  4. The setter will keep the ball going by setting or passing it to the next player in line.

The three lines add a randomness to the drill, so that all players need to be ready for the ball to come to them.

The setter can up the level of intensity by fitting in a few down balls to players. Make shorter passes to move them or send the ball directly between two lines. One player has to decide and go after it.

Make sure the players are talking, calling the ball, and that the setter is calling for each hit to help newer players know where their target is each time, so that they could increase their chances of scoring a point in the actual game.

How to practice the Three Line Drill to improve ball control skills in volleyball

Ladder Passing Drill

This is a great drill to really work your players and have them utilize self passing skills alongside practicing with multiple targets.

  • Line up three players or helpers on each side of the net in the front three positions.
  • Each player in the drill will have their own ball and will pass the ball to each target.
  • The target will pass the ball out and away from them so that the player is moving down the line to pass the ball to the next target.
  • Once the player reaches the end of the line then they will keep the ball in action by passing to themselves as they walk around the net to the other side to resume the ladder drill with another three targets.

You can dictate how the passes should go from shorter passes to start, then to longer passes that are more backrow placement. Next you can request setting only and have them start with closer setting followed by another round of further back setting.

Since this drill has a good flowing movement to it, any players that lose their ball or do not have a successful hit must catch their ball and go back to the entering spot of the drill so that they don’t hold up or slow down players already working in the drills continuous flow. For drills like these, it’s important that your players wear appropriate volleyball training clothes so as not to hinder their movement.

Improve your ball control skills with the Ladder Passing Drill

Fast-Paced Volleyball Control Drills

Three-hit switchImproves ball control under quick circumstances
Net ball ExchangeImproves teamwork and ball control
Dynamic Ball Control DrillImproves ball control under different positions

When you are running ball control drills it is good to really up the stakes by giving your more advanced players fast paced drills to get them ready for face paced game situations. These drills below will require them to move fast while focusing on a controlled pass to their partner or over the net.

Due to the faster pace that these drills demand, players need to make sure that they are actively communicating with one another. This ensures they are getting the ball and know where to send it next.

Three-hit Switch Drill

This is a great fast paced ball control drill for your players. It helps them learn how to control their hits while maintaining a fast switching pace. It will also force them to communicate with one another to call out the hits.

  1. Split your team into groups of three.
  2. The three players will start on one side of the net.
  3. Each player will have an assigned 1, 2, 3 hit that they must stick to.
  4. As each player hits the ball they will quickly run under the net to the other side waiting for the ball to come over.
  5. First the players will all bump the ball, the third player will bump the ball over the net.
  6. On the other side of the net they will keep up the three bumps.
  7. As the ball comes back over the net they will switch to all three players setting for two rounds.
  8. Next they will do a bump, set, downball for two rounds.
  9. Finally they will perform a bump, set, attack for the final two rounds.

This drill demands ball control since the players have to make a hit and then switch to the other side of the net. It also starts off easy and then builds to a more difficult full attack finish level.

Make sure that your players are moving and calling the ball. Also have them call out each hit with either a 1, 2, 3 or calling out the hit they are making bump, set, spike. This will help players who are reluctant to talk start communicating better, and play a good defense on the court.

Learn how the Three Hit Switch Drill works for volleyball control practice

Net ball Exchange

This is a great drill that lets you not only work on partner controlled passing but also successfully hitting a ball out of the net to make a play.

  • To start, don’t give your duos a set pass limit.
  • Let them get a few passes in and then one of the players will hit the ball into the net.
  • The other player needs to dig the ball out of the net. This will count as hit number 2 so the next hit needs to go over the net to the other team.
  • After the ball goes over the net, the starting duo needs to switch places. This allows both players to work at the net and play backrow for an even lesson on ball control.
  • The other team will repeat the passing drill, eventually hitting the ball into the net and pulling it out to send over.

You can run this drill on half of the net so you have two sets of four players going at a time. For an added advanced dynamic have extra players rotate in during the drill on the opposite side.

Since your players are always moving around, remind them to be in lightweight volleyball shoes that will aid them in their speed and agility on court.

Dynamic Ball Control Drill

This drill is played on only one side of the net with 5-6 players all working and moving together to create a successful bump, set, spike within the group.

To start, have one player in the setter position, two outside hitter on each end of the net, and 2-3 back row players.

  • Start with a toss to the back row.
  • A back row player will bump the ball to the setter and then run to get behind the closer outside hitter.
  • The setter will set the ball to a hitter and then run to a back row position.
  • The outside hitter will then hit a down ball to one of the back row players. After the hitter sends the downball they will run to the setter position.

Check out the video tutorial here:

This drill gets your players moving and learning how to work every part of the court. Everyone will get a rotation in back row, setting and outside hitting. This will help them to learn the right ball control hits for each position.

Make sure your players are hitting and then running straight to the next station. Also keep players talking to one another by calling the ball, calling out the hit or saying “here” if they are the setter asking for the second hit.

Train the players on the other side of the court to also prepare to receive the ball and/or block it, whichever they deem fit.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about volleyball control drills.

Why Is It Important to Have Good Ball Control?

It is important to have good ball control in volleyball because this allows you to improve your spiking, setting, passing, and serving. In order words, this helps you improve your overall technique. After all, ball control improves your accuracy.

How Can You Improve Ball Control by Yourself?

If you want to improve your ball control by yourself you can start working on your technique, posture, and positioning. To do this, you can record videos of yourself volleying or setting the ball. Then, you can review them and start fixing the problems that you may see.

How Do You Teach a Child to Control a Ball?

The first thing that children need to know when learning to control balls, is the proper posture and positioning. They need to know how to put their arms, how their bodies should be positioned, and how their feet should be placed. From then on, they will be able to learn ball control faster.


These varying volleyball ball control drills are great for teaching your players how to get a better handle on the ball so that in game situations they are able to perform passes and sets to their intended players.

You cannot have a set without a good pass and you cannot have a spike without a set. Each hit needs to be controlled and built into each other so that your team can perform a solid bump, set and spike each time they receive the ball over the net.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.