7 Great Individual and Group Volleyball Communication Drills for Practice

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It is important to work on volleyball communication drills during practice to help your team learn how to communicate with each other. There is more to team communication than just saying mine. In a team that talks to one another, you will have players calling out what type of hit is coming over the net, such as a free or a spike.

Players will also call for help when they cannot reach a ball or for hits on the net. They will  give each other a solid verbal control of what is going on, so that everyone can work together as a well oiled machine.

Small Group and Individual Volleyball Communication Drills

These drills are run with only a few players working together instead of a whole team on the court. These are great because they cut down on how many people are playing and interacting with the ball. This forces players to step up and take command. It encourages them to talk, especially when they might be the ones who tend to stay quieter in a large group.

How a Burnout Drill is executed to improve volleyball communication skills

Burnout Drill

This is a great drill for working on communication. It also is good for teaching your players to think cleverly in their ball placement.

  1. Have three players on three teams.
  2. The goal of the game is to get the other team burned out by playing smart.
  3. Each team can choose to do 1-3 hits on their side.
  4. No spiking is allowed. Instead, the players can bump, set, and knuckle ball it over as long as their feet stay on the ground.
  5. After one team sends the ball over the net, that  team has to rotate.
  6. This can be played in rounds (where best out of 3 prevails) or similar to the Queen of the Court drills than middle school kids rehearse. Let a new team come in to oppose the winners of each match.

Teammates will have to keep an eye on the ball during the drill. They need to talk it up to keep everyone aware of what is happening as they are rotating. Since the object is to burn the other team out, players are likely to immediately return the ball over the net on one hit as the opposite team is still moving into a new position. This creates chaos on the court. Communicating with one another helps them see that unfold and allows them to get a better handle on it.

Players will also learn to develop an eye for struggling moments on the court. It lets them make quick burnout plays, such as a large hole or where players aren’t quite in their position yet. This also helps players work on sending a set ball to the opposite backrow corners for hard to recover plays.

Between the Trees Drill

This is a quick and decisive drill where the coach or tosser will hit down balls and players need to communicate to say who will get the ball so that it doesn’t hit the floor.

This basic drill gives players a follow through aspect. This is good for players who are not as aggressive in going after the ball. They can’t mentally check out since they have to perform a set once the ball is hit. The second phase of the drill, needing to set and then send the ball over, is a great way to build onto simple volleyball drills to give them more of an in game finish.

  • Have your players form two lines behind the serving line.
  • Two players will step in at the two key back row spot.
  • A tosser will hit a downball directly between the two players.
  • The two players need to communicate, one will call the ball and pop it up for the second player to set it.
  • The original hitter will then move to the ball and spike it or set it over for the final hit.
Step by step instructions for the volleyball communication drill Between the Trees.

Players will also need to communicate and call the ball to eliminate any collisions and to let the other person know that they have the set ready. The person with the third hit should be calling for the ball “here” since they won’t be right on the net like a standard spike would be.

Encourage players who didn’t go for the first hit in one of the rounds to try and go for it the next time. Everyone in the drill should at some point go for the first hit.

Three Hits Drill

This is another great three on three drill that aims to help your team learn how to communicate with one another on the court to secure a full bump, set, and spike from each play.

  1. Have your players form teams of three on the court.
  2. Each player can only hit the ball one time per play and the ball needs to be sent over in three hits.
  3. If the ball is sent over in two or less, then that team is disqualified.
  4. Also if one player hits the ball twice, then that team is disqualified.

With these one hit per person rules, the players will need to talk to call out which hit they are as well as who needs to hit the ball when the first receiver passes it. It is acceptable for them to be calling out 1, 2, 3 as they hit the ball or calling out each others names to help focus on who gets what hit.

The main focus of this drill is to make them talk, no matter what they say, since this will open the door for players to get used to speaking every time they hit the ball. Figuring out which word to say to call the ball or ask for help will come in time.

Step by Step instructions on how the Three Hits Drill is performed to improve volleyball communication skills

Communication Drills for Volleyball Teams

Quiet DrillAllow players to experience how bad the lack of communication is
Two Ball DrillImproves communication under stress
Bounce Ball DrillImproves communication and teamwork
Call the Ball DrillImproves communication on stubborn players

These drills focus on having your team in place for a scrimmage. This way it is based on a game like situation with a full court for players to learn how to communicate and read the ball as they would during a game.

Quiet Drill

During this drill you will do the exact opposite of all of the other drills listed. Instead of talking, you will have your players be quiet. No one is to talk or call the ball. This will probably work best for advanced volleyball players as their skills would have matured enough to handle the task the task at hand.

Regardless of the players’ skill level, whether they are amateur volleyball players or professional athletes, this drill is good for many different reasons. One, it will take away the basic communication that players rely on. In the beginning there will be some mayhem and players can all be first hand witnesses to the break down that happens when players don’t talk to one another.

Secondly, it will open up your players senses to learning each others instincts. When you play volleyball without talking, you must learn to rely on your other senses to see where the balls and players are. You need to know your teammates and know who is going to be relied upon to go for the ball versus who will not be as aggressive.

You also need to keep to your true techniques in sending the ball to a setter. This is especially true even when they are not calling for it. They need to trust that the setter will find the ball and put it on the net for someone to spike.

This drill will have a bit of a frustrating break down in the beginning, especially if your players aren’t in the right clothing attire for volleyball training. In time, your players will get to know each other a little better in the silence. They will learn how to work together as a stronger unit who not only listens to one another, but knows how each other works.

Two male volleyball players near the net

Two Ball Drill

Sometimes, in order to get your team talking better, you need to introduce chaos. This drill is played like a standard scrimmage except you have two balls in play instead of just one.

  1. To start, a back row player on each team will toss a ball over to the other side’s back row.
  2. You will bump, set, and tip or roll the ball over to the other side (this means no hard spikes).
  3. When one ball falls to the ground it is considered dead and then the one ball in play becomes the live ball that you can spike.
  4. In order to win a point you must win both of the balls.

When you have two balls in play, then the whole team ends up talking to each other. The main players working on the bump, set and hit over will be communicating while the other players will be watching the other side and calling if it is coming over as a hit, a free ball, or one that they could set up and block.

In this drill there will be a lot of chaos, especially if it is the first time your players have run a drill with two balls in play. This drill will keep them on their toes since they need to go after two different balls at the same time. Encourage them to talk it up on the court to help keep everyone informed of what is going on.

The team who gets 5 points first wins the game.

How to work on volleyball communication skills by practicing the Two Ball Drill

Bounce Ball Drill

This is a really fun and competitive game you can play with your entire team on the court at once. It is great for communicating and helping your team learn how to work together to get the ball under control.

  • Every time the ball bounces on the other team’s side of the court, you get a point.
  • You don’t have to use perfect volleyball moves to get the ball off the floor and back into play.
  • Each side has an unlimited number of hits to get it over the net.
  • If you hit the ball out of bounds, your team has to chase down the ball, giving the other team points as it bounces and pass it back to your side of the net to then send it over in bounds.
  • When the ball rolls, it’s game over.

The rules are pretty simple,

Now that you have the rules, split your team into two groups and put them on opposite sides of the court. Start the game with a toss and keep count on each side as the ball is missed and bounces.

Remind your players they need to communicate with one another to get the ball back under control. Let them slow down the pace and talk to one another to set up a good hit.

How to perform the Bounce Ball Drill for volleyball communication practice

Take note during the game of who does and does not communicate well. Point it out when you regroup to show your players the breakdown of being able to play well when you don’t communicate to one another.

You can make the goal of this game the best out of 5 to see which team is the winner. If you notice one team is better at talking then switch them up. Put some good communicative players in with those who don’t talk as much to help boost them.

Call the Ball Drill

This drill is super simple. All you have to do is call the ball. You will set up in a scrimmage lineup. Any extra players will stand on the sideline and wait until there is a space. For drills like these, it’s extra important to wear volleyball shoes designed for running and jumping, as your players will be needing all the help they can get.

  1. Start with by tossing a ball over the net or giving closer back row players a downball from the setter position.
  2. If players don’t call the ball before they hit it, or if they call it too quietly, they can be kicked off the court.
  3. Once kicked off, players have to go and stand on the sidelines until the drill is over.
  4. You can also kick players off that don’t go for the ball or who are goofing off instead of taking the drill seriously.
  5. Once one of the teams makes it to 15 points, or if you run out of players, start the drill over.
  6. Encourage your players to realize why they were kicked off the court so that hopefully they won’t get kicked off again for the same reason.
Instructions on how the Call the Ball Drill is performed for volleyball communication practice

This is a great hard drill to run for teams that lack communication. The coach has the only say. There is no arguing. If you didn’t call the ball, you are off the court and you have to watch the rest of the team work together and communicate.

It gives kicked off players a quiet time to reflect and make the decision to step up their communication game so that they aren’t stuck on the sidelines again.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about communication drills.

Can I Play Volleyball Without Talking?

Although you can play volleyball without saying a single word, it is not recommended. This is because volleyball is a team sport, which means that you need to work with your teammates in order to win. In some situations, you will need to tell them where you are positioned, or where the ball is going.

If you don’t do this, the team can get disorganized and confused, ultimately losing the match.

Can You Improve Your Communication Skills by Yourself?

Yes, you can start improving your communication skills by yourself. You don’t necessarily need to be on the volleyball court to work on your communication. Since this is something that can influence both your performance and your life, you can look for ways to better articulate your thoughts

Why Is Communication So Important in Volleyball?

Proper communication with your volleyball team is important to avoid confusion and mistakes. For instance, if the opponents serve and you cannot receive the ball, you need to say something. If not, since your teammates still think you can receive it, they will not move.

This situation will either end up in an easy point for the opponent; or in a difficult dive for the libero. Either way, your team is affected by your lack of communication.


Learning how to talk with volleyball communication drills is a must for your team. Try to pair players who talk with those that are a little quieter to help encourage them to find their voice. While there will be team captains and setters who may be a little more vocal, every voice is important and needed on that court.

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.