The 5 Best Volleyball Drills for Middle School

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Teaching volleyball drills for middle school is a great way to introduce a younger age group to the game. When it comes to junior high volleyball drills, the simpler the better. Since they are new to the game, you will want to focus on the basics of bump, set, spike to show them how to get into position and control the hit. Make sure they are all in their training volleyball shoes so they’re well equipped and ready.

​Best Volleyball Drills for Middle School

Serving Drill

​Serving is an important skill for volleyball player to learn. If you can’t get the ball in play, then you have a hard time creating a high enough score to win. One of the best serving drills you can do with middle school players is partner based and will help them improve their strength to serve and aim for controlling the ball.

These five drills will cover a few different areas of how to play volleyball and help set your middle school team up for success as they learn the basics of ball control and moving.

With basic volleyball drills for middle school, you won’t be working on spot serving. Instead, you will just want to keep it between the inbound lines and have them aim for the middle. That allows for those wonky serves that may go a little sideways.

To begin the partner serving drill, you will want to pair everyone off in teams of two. Have them stand at the attack line on either side of the net from each other. Give a ball to each pair and have them practice serving the ball to each other.

Each team will start close to the net at the attacking line and serve the ball to their partner.

For each successful serve over the net, the person who serves will take two-three steps backwards and repeat. The drill will continue until everyone reaches the back serving line.

​Once you reach the back serving line you will move into a standard serving drill where you work on serving the ball over the net. At this time coaches can walk around and offer pointers and help to those that are struggling.

You can also move some players a few steps into the net to help them get it over the net.

Woman prepares herself for volleyball service

Once they make the ball over the net a few times in one spot, have them take one step back and serve it over again. The point is to help them learn how to serve, and then work them back to the serving line.

While they are primarily working on serving the ball over the net, they are also learning control in their serve and how to better aim it.

This is where the partner comes in, it gives each player someone or something to aim for.

It will be easier to hit their targeted partner in closer proximity, and they will begin to hit a little more off center as they begin to back up. As a way to help them work on their serving aim, have each kid recall how far they were able to back up while maintaining the controlled hit to their partner.

After a week of practice, find out how many were able to extend their line of controlled hitting and how far back they can go. This is helpful to building up to learning how to spot serve once they get into high school volleyball. It will also help them control their serve and keep it in bounds, instead of a high average of wild balls that fly out of bounds.

Passing Drill

​When it comes to learning volleyball passing drills for middle school, you really want to keep it in a simple controlled hit focus. It is not a great idea to pair them up for partner passing at this early of a volleyball skill level. Instead you will want to run focused target drills.

A great drill for middle schoolers is to line them up in three lines. One on each side of the court and one line down the middle. Have them stand a little ways behind the attack line and have the coach or an experienced helper stand in the middle where a setter would stand.

The person in the middle will start with a toss to one of the lines. The person that it comes to will call the ball and then bump it back to the designated setter. The setter will then bump or set the ball to the next person in one of the three lines.

There are two sub drills to this one drill:

Calling ​​​​the Ball

​The first sub drill is that every time the ball is in the air, someone needs to call it. If a player hits the ball during the drill without calling it then they need to be pulled out of line and have to perform an additional exercise such as fifteen mountain climbers or run a lap around the court before getting back in line.

While this may sound a little hard on a player, conversation on the volleyball court is one of the most important things that a successful team needs to have. When everyone is looking up at the ball in the air, they aren’t always looking at who is around them.

When you call the ball, you let your team know that you have it, they don’t need to watch the ball, but instead watch you to make sure that you can hit the ball to the targeted area.

This also helps the setter know who they need to turn to, ready to start the set. The hitters will also stop chasing the ball and move to a hitting position, getting set and ready for the third hit.

Communication is key, so make sure that you are encouraging it with your players and letting them know when they are not communicating.

Being the T​​​​​arget

​The second sub drill that will happen is primarily in the setter’s position. The coach or helper that is being the controlled setter will ensure to openly communicate that they are the target by calling out “Here, here!” after they send the first hit out.

This will in the moment remind whoever is taking the pass, that they need to send it to the setter position.

Volleyball player preparing to dig the ball

As volleyball practice progresses or if you have a player that is a little more advanced and has good control, then they can take over the setter spot, or you can rotate players in that can handle it.

In the setter spot, they will begin with a toss. Then it is their job to send the ball to each person in the line without stopping to catch the ball. This will give whoever is in that position a very active setter drill since they will be moving to get the ball and then sending a controlled bump or set to the next person in the line.

For a more advanced passing drill you can have the setter mix in some down-ball hits to the players in line. This is a softer version of a spike, which is intended to be angled downward, forcing the players to move and even needing to dive for the ball.

Setting Drill

​While not every player will be a setter, every player should know how to and be efficient at setting. This is an important skill for balls that are too high to bump, or to be able to step in as the playmaking setter to put a set up for someone to hit.

You also want to make sure you are putting the emphasis on the set being a targeted play that should be sent high and towards the net. Then, someone can spike the ball over.

A moving drill is a great option for teaching kids how to set. Moving volleyball drills for middle school are a great way to help them start to build up stamina for long game play while you are practicing, since volleyball is a moving sport.

The fan drill is a popular drill when it comes to setting, it may have different names, but the description is usually the same. The coach or helper will toss a high ball towards the player who is in the setter’s position close to the net.

The player setting will move to the ball and set it down the net to a player standing on the end, where a hitter would normally be. This is their target for the set.

The player in the hitter’s position will catch the ball and then bring the ball to their coach. They place the ball on the coach’s hip so they do not have to break eye contact with the players as the drill is going.

The player, after handing the coach the ball, will then run around and get in line to be a setter.

The drill sounds pretty simple, and it is. For beginners you will end up just tossing a high ball to them and getting them to work on the setter’s hand frame as well as getting them to send a high controlled ball to the hitter’s spot.

As practices progress, you may notice that you can advance the drill a little. At this point you can toss the ball away from the setter, forcing them to move more to get to the ball and get under it.

Spiking Drill

​Spiking may not be on your main priority list for a new team who is learning. However, these can be fun volleyball drills for middle school players to start learning.

Almost all spiking drills will happen at the spike line close to the net. Players will line up and take turns approaching the net, waiting for a set and then following through with a spike.

Volleyball player spiking a ball

To make the drill go faster, have each player bring their own ball. They will toss the ball to the person in the setter position, the ball will then be set back to them and they will approach and spike. After the ball goes over the net, the person spiking will chase it down and get back in line.

The spiking drill is also a great time to work on your setters. Let them rotate in and set a few times for the players who are hitting.

For middle school volleyball practice plans you may not have specific hitters for outside and middle hitting. You can line the hitters up on the outside, then shift the line to the middle hitter area. Finally, move the line to the other side of the court.

This will allow the players to get a feel for spiking in different areas on the court.

For an even greater challenge, once you feel your players are improving, you can add in another team to block the ball.

Scrimmage Drill

​While most practices will end with some on the court scrimmage time, there are a few drills you can use to create a more concentrated scrimmage atmosphere. This allows everyone to get a turn at hitting and working together.

A favorite game drill you can play is Queen of the Court. This drill is a three on three match, where the winner of the set gets to go on the other side of the court to wait to be defeated by the next group. If they win again then they stay on the back side until a group can defeat them.

The best part about this drill is that it is very basic. The only real rule is that you have to defeat the other team. This allows coaches to create their own set of rules for queen of the court to help players work on areas that they need.

For middle schoolers, you will want to keep it simple yet engaging for them. Since they are learning ball movement and control, you can state the rules are 2-3 hits to get it over. If they send it over in one hit or fail to get all three hits per the rules, then they are out.

You can also implement they do three hits and that each player can only hit the ball once. This is an excellent exercise in getting them to communicate to each other. They find out  who has hit the ball and who needs to make the final hit over.

volleyball team forming a circle

A competitive game against their teammates is a great way to get your players focused. It also is a serious mindset to do whatever it takes to win.


These five volleyball drills for middle school are a great way to get your players moving on the court and learning how to control the ball.

As you work through the drills, make sure you encourage your players to switch partners during pair ups. This is a great way to help your team learn about each other and not have certain cliques within the group. It is also good because more advanced middle school players can help the newer ones with technique and encouragement when they are paired together.

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.