There are a lot of great volleyball drills for beginners. The Art of Coaching Volleyball website is a great source for these drills. You can find them on the internet or YouTube as well.
One of the best volleyball drills for beginners on the mental side is breathing. Volleyball is so dependent on accuracy, focus and precision and breathing can make a big difference on that. I spent 23 years on an Eastern Spiritual path and breathing was a big part of our practice. In fact, it’s one of my favorite skills from those years of yoga and meditation.
Lack of air is something we can live without for only a very short period of time, yet we have almost no experience of it or relationship to it. Our breath is a great indicator of our mental and emotional state if we observe it. Just like how our heart pounds when we are in danger, if we are angry or fearful, we barely breath. If we are relaxed or happy, our breathing is longer and slow. By paying attention to our breath, we can influence our anxiety and our focus.
One of the best volleyball training drills for focus is to practice inhaling to fill your lungs, holding for a few seconds and exhaling all the air out. When you think you’ve exhaled it all, exhale a little more by pulling your abs in. Start to notice your lung capacity, what it feels to have a full breath and to exhale it all out. As you exhale it all out, you can imagine a wave of relaxation starting at the top of your head and moving down through your body relaxing everything as it goes. Look for a physical quietness. Relaxed yet focused. Hmmm, sounds like being in the zone!
At night before you go to sleep, you can breathe more by inhaling for four counts, or beats, holding for four counts, exhaling for four counts and holding out for four counts. At first, make the counts very close together so you don’t have any discomfort about having enough air, then, very soon, you’ll start relaxing and being able to relax the counts and let them be slower. This is a very relaxing, comforting breathing pattern and one that will be a great addition to your practice.
If you watched the Olympics, you saw the athletes take a breath and let it out before their performance. Why not incorporate it into your practice now and get the benefit that the athletes at the very highest level experience? If you are doing a volleyball defense drill, for instance, taking a breath to increase your focus and to allow you to be more aware of your body balance and if there are any mental distractions or fears you are preoccupied with will make the drill more effective for you. If you were doing a volleyball serving drill, collecting yourself by taking a breath, and focusing on the exact point on the court where you want your serve to end up will increase your accuracy and effectiveness.
Adding breathing exercises would be a great addition to a volleyball training program. At first you might feel self conscious or not know how to practice breathing techniques, and having instruction and knowing your entire team was adding breathing to their volleyball drills would make it more fun. Try breathing and let me know what you experience.
Image by Ronan Davis