Match with flow

See the video


1 court
2 teams of 3 or 4 players
3 to 6 balls

Aim of the task:

Win the exchange.

Roles and instructions:

  • Teams serve and play the exchanges as in a normal set.
  • The thrower(s), placed on the edge of the court sent the ball back into play without stopping using a bell curve trajectory when the game is stopped. This way they simulate an opposition superior to the actual level.
  • Players do not pick up the balls during the exchange. If needed they push them outside the court.
  • When all balls have been used, pick them up and start again, changing side for service.


  • You can put only one thrower as in the video clip. The thrower can be told to put the ball where the error occurred or to throw it to the other side to simulate a successful send back.
  • You can also place a thrower on each side at about 3m from the net. Then it's the thrower on the side where the exchange is broken who sends a ball back into play. He ignores the error that was made on his side and resumes the exchange.

In order to break the vicious circle of game discontinuity we establish an artificial continuity. The aim of the work is fluidity of game time, the movements and reorienting that this imposes.

This is why it is particularly important that the ball feed be done in the timing of the game without waiting fot a replacement of the players. As soon as a ball falls to the ground or leaves the court another is thrown in.

Conversely when there are no more balls, we reset the process and let the players concentrate again for better quality work. We notice that players, at the second or third stage of the game become spectators and lake mlistakes.

The teacher intervenes based on situations that arise to ask the pupils to identify:

  • Times and signals of changes in game stages and in roles: reception / assist / passe/ attack / block-defence / support / pass etc.
  • Placements and orientations
  • Game situations : direct counter-attack, construction with several touches etc.
  • Communications.
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See the video

Asking players to "be mobile" or to "move" is not enough. This work is about signals of changes in game phases and analysis of the tactical situation.

Each signal triggers a choice of movement and of placement. On the video we can see that players are not passive but they do not recognise the signals which would enable them to anticipate and orient themselves. To be mobile the player must know: when to move? Where? And Why?

The video shows us typical cases when the teacher must intervene in situation. When they concern the pupil directly and they make sense to him.

Situations on the clips:

  1. the team on the foreground is placed in the same way whatever the game stage. This means that they do not make the difference between these two phases and do not take into account the position of the ball as information for organising themselves and that the successive roles are confused. When the ball is served by the opponent this means: "serve reception", long trajectory, that is to say 3 players as receivers spread in different angles and one passer excluded from reception.
  2. When the ball is on the other side during the game you must defend with blocks and on short trajectories as well as long trajectories. Here the team in the background has the service but does not adapt to the evolution of the game which creates many undefended short zones in which the opponent scores although their attacks are "blind".
  3. When a player says "Got it", it's the signal for his partners to face him and spread in support in posture of attention. Here they stay on the spot and watch him play.
  4. When a passer says "Got it", or "Here" or even starts a clear and early action to play the second touch of the ball it's the signal for his partners to put themselves at his disposal to attack, which means stepping back to align in the back where the ball is, in order to have the ball in front of them to attack. Here the players pivot towards the ball without moving and are therefore out of position for an attack. When the ball is for them, they send it back into the opposing camp "blind".
  5. For the passing player (generally on the second touch of the ball but this can happen on the first) the players available for attack are those who are facing the target and can easily have the ball in front of them. Here apart from one case, the passing player tries to bring the ball closer to the net despite the attack conditions it's a bad reading of partners positions.
  6. On the third touch of the ball the opponent must attack. The team in the background does not take this information into account although most of the time there is a player at the net who could very easily block the attack made facing backwards (blind) and therefore score. Even without blocking we see that the players do not register in their attitudes the certainty that the opponent is going to attack and they are surprised by slow trajectories that fall near them (1m to 1,5m)!

In this learning situation we let the game develop as there is a strong playful dimension. Then on the typical situations we ask questions relative to signals, game timings and positions:

  • Which phase of the game are we in?
  • Who does what?
  • Who should defend here?
  • Who is in attack position?
  • Etc.

Finally, it is productive at the end of the lesson to represent on the blackboard, in a very quick and simple way, the situations noticed during the game in order to suggest a more general graphic model of organisation principles. See phases of the game in a set.

See the resource on
representations of the target to defend
and attack orientations
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