Volleyball Communication Tips

Communication may be more important in volleyball than any other sport. Players need to become good listeners towards their teammates and coaches along with providing clear information to others.  

Teams that communicate well flow together and play as one. 

The best teams work to improve communication skills just as they would any other volleyball skill. Their results show just how important communication is. 


Three Player Pass, Set, Hit Drill

I have created instructional videos for my best drills that involve passing and defensive. Watch a preview of my passing and defense drills or purchase the videos here.


Verbal Communication

The goal with verbal communication is to communicate clearly and avoid confusion. 

Here are some tips for communicating effectively. 

  • Call “Mine!” on all balls you plan to play. Be sure to call the ball well ahead of time to avoid crashing into teammates. If the ball is heading in between teammates, be sure to call the ball multiple times and increase volume with each word. “Mine!” “Mine!!” “MINE!!!
  • When preparing to set, if the setter sees a teammate moving toward the ball, the setter should quickly call them off.
  • When the ball is landing near the boundary lines, quickly give a clear call… “In!” “In!” or “Play it!” or “Out!”
  • In a free ball situation, everyone on the team should call “Free!” as soon as they recognize the situation. 
  • Prior to the serve, the front row players can call out to identify the opposing setter and front row hitters so everyone is aware of the situation. If the setter is back row, yell out “Setters down!”. If the setter is front row, yell out “Setters up!”
  • When attacking, teammates can call out where to hit the ball, “Line!” “Cross!” or “Left!” or “Right!”
  • Backrow players can watch the opponents defense and identify where holes are then in between plays relay this information to teammates. 
  • Teammates on the bench should help by calling balls "in!" or "out!" and giving positive reinforcement to players on the court. 

Just as athletes need to learn physical skills, many players need to learn communication skills. If a player is being too quiet and passive becomes an issue, be sure to give them a chance to get loud. Some players just need to be given permission to be loud.

At first they may find it stressful and become embarrassed. With some practice, pretty soon they will understand the concept of creating a loud gym voice.

Like anything else, it takes practice to become comfortable with it. Each time they do it they will be closer to making it a good habit. 


Physical Communication

If you are watching volleyball for the first time you might be thinking, “Why are the players touching each other so much.”

You’ll notice the best teams will make physical contact with teammates in between every play. This is because they are trying to stay connected with one another. 

You’ll notice adults slap hands and youth players perform a team cheer in the middle of the court.

Examples of physical communication…

  • A passer claiming the area physically. This is when the passer moves to an area of the court in order to pass the ball. Along with calling the ball, this should be done early enough so teammates clearly see that the player is going to take the ball. 
  • A setter may need to physically clear the way to set the ball. If the setter sees that a teammate may actually hinder them from setting, the setter should first verbally call them off then physically make space if necessary. 
  • Open lanes in serve receive. Turn and face the ball in serve receive. Be in an athletic stance, ready to chase down a shanked ball. 
  • If you make a mistake, just shake it off and get ready for the next play. Don’t make the mistake of analyzing too long and showing disappointment physically.
  • Practice good listening skills and posture. During timeouts and at practice, stand tall and look the speaker in the eye. 
  • Show enthusiasm after good plays. Take every opportunity to grab momentum and use positive energy to play at a higher level. 

With improved communication skills, players learn to listen and trust each other. 


Male vs Female Player

Generally, men don’t need to be as close to teammates all the time. Men communicate more with looks and nods. Men tend to focus more on strategic ways to find a way to beat the opponent. Men tend to be more about the need for information than the need for closeness. 

Positive vs Negative Self-talk

Great players know how to treat themselves well and move forward in the game. They find it easy to blow off bad plays, sometimes just laughing it off. 

One of the most harmful habits a player could have is negative self-talk. Negative self-talk keeps the player focused on the wrong stuff. One of the worst things a player can do is get mad and withdraw into them self. 

Players who don’t handle mistakes well must be taught techniques for recovering from these situations. 

One way players are able to recover quickly is by reconnecting with teammates immediately after making the error. For example, a teammate saying something like, “Hey, you’ve got this!” can go along way to solidifying confidence.  


36 Pass/Defense Drills

36 Awesome Drills for Passing and Defense


21 Practice Plans/65 Drills

21 Minute by Minute Practice Plans Packed with 65 Skill-Building Drills


› Volleyball Communication


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