The teacher's interventions and communications
Forms of matches & tournament organisation

Matches and tournaments

Matches are the situation of reference and the "test bed" of all learning. For them to be able to play this role and bring the players the pleasure pf playing that is at the heart of practice we make sure there is a sufficient volume of play collectively and at individual level.

Winning the match is the basic principle of the game. However in project of player training and to foster the development of pupils in the game of volley-ball in the medium to long term we must look beyond the mere result of the matches, be it victory or defeat, to involve them in objectives of progress and mastery. This takes place in the very organisation of matches.

Here we propose organisation modes for players and matches during lessons and for organising tournaments in short time frames (1h to 1h30).

Forms of matches:


The number of players (1 to 4 players) favours the volume of play per playerand corresponds to the level of ability of players. See number of players and levels of game.

The coach or captain

On the court, a team comprises of a captain who is the only one who can question the referee and who organises communication within the team. The role of coach can be given to a player. We ask him to make an analysis of the match, of the balance of power (weak and strong points of the team and the opponent), of what should be worked on and improved.

Of course this role can rotate among the players. See on this subject teacher interventions. During a tournament the coach is outside the court. He is the one who asks for down times.

Down times

Teams benefit from 2 down times of 30" per set. From a teaching point of view it seems very interesting to introduce this rule from the start because:

  • It organises and et encloses communication in the team: If we have something to say we ask for a down time.
  • It favours exchange and tactical reflection: it is impossible to make organisation decisions during the game.
  • It opens to taking stock and planning further learning projects.


A match is won if you win 3 sets of 25 points with a two point spread. In case of a draw at 2 sets all a fifth set in 15 points is played.

We note that these scoring units (sets) are common to hitting sports with time constraints (all racket sports and volley-ball). We could conclude that this corresponds to the specific rule according to which it is forbidden to stop or delay the ball. Thus we can clearly lose a set and win the match.

It is at the same time a cultural dimension of volley-ball and a very interesting asset from a teaching point of view. This is why we sugest, for the same volume of play, to prefer, when time available is short , playing two or three winning sets rather than one longer set.

For example:

  • 2 sets of 9 points and a third of 7 points in case of a draw at 1 set all.
  • 3 winning sets of 9 points and a fifth of 7 points in case of a draw at 2 set all.

Time and court management can bring us to shorten the sets. Experience tends to indicate that 7 points represent the minimum play volume where the balance of power becomes significant.

Service and rotations

The rules say that server keeps the service as long as his team wins the exchange during a set. If the team loses then wins the serve again the players "rotate" when the team gets the serve back (changing posts in a clockwise direction). To avoid the over-influence of a gifted player we can keep the service for the team as long as the exchange is won but changer servers every 2 services.

See the resource on allocating
posts according to service rotation

Themed matches

Rising and falling

Courts are numbered 1 to 3. Matches are played against the clock (precise duration). It is the main advantage of this approach but it's also a limit compared with standard practice and this cannot be used at the situation of reference.

With three courts we can have 6 teams playing. If there are more teams than courts we can create waiting positions of rise and fall or split the courts. The winning team rises. The losing team falls. In case of draw at hte end of the allotted time we play one ball. Most of the time teams stabilise rather quickly and the system becomes repetitive.

Team numbers or assymetrical courts

Sometimes teams can play with very different number of players or different court shapes. This allows to identify and highlight problems opening to the following type of learning:

  • who wins?
  • how are points won?
  • who has the advantage?
  • how are they using it?
See the resource on
Types of courts and organisation

Tournamant organisation


A tournament is an institutionalised game period which requires preparation and planning. Only with strict organisation will acquired skills be truly invested. Beyond the game, it contains social roles which guarantee its good progress and contribute to the pupils training.

It is set up with teams of 2, 3 or 4 player. This helps go beyond the idea that "real matches" take place at 6 versus 6, an ill-adapted and sterile number of players in a school context. Championship-type formulas (everybody meets everybody) are too cumbersome. Cup formulas (direct elimination) are too selective. Therefore we will opt for formulas by groups/pools of 3 or maximum 4 teams.

We separate two formulas:

  • Tournaments with fixed partners: they allow to test the teams' efficiency and functioning.
  • Tournaments with variable partners: Each player plays a series of matches. For each match, his team bill be made up of different partners. This way he is made to collaborate with these partners and at the same time he gathers individual efficiency points. This allows adding results for each player and creating an individual ranking of the tournament without direct assessment from the teacher.


Restriction parameters:

  • Available time: We suggest formulas that can take place in a 1 hour to 1 hour and a half time-slot.
  • Number of courts: A 9x18 m court can be split into two courts of 4,5 x 6 m for 3 a side or 4 a side or even into three courts of 3x4,5 m for 2 a side games.
  • Number of teams: we only plan substitutes in case it's impossible to get equal numbers of in the teams. We will prefer engaging a team of 3 in a tournament for teams of 4 rather than scatter 3 substitutes across the teams.
  • Duration of matchesmatch duration will be adapted to the above conditions and to the number of stages to program according to the following data: On average it takes 5 seconds to play a point. A set is planned on the hypothesis of a draw (30 points planned for a 15 point set). A match is won with two winning sets.

Options and formulas:

For fixed partner tournaments, three teams pools are easiest to manage because they give a team for refereeing. Pools are brief (3 matches per pool). In a pool system, the first round groups 3 to 4 teams of all levels on each pool. We play 3 to 6 matches per pool. At the end of these pools teams are allotted according to their ranking to constitute same level pools that will contain, for the second round, the 1st and 2nd on one side and the 3rd and 4th on the other. At the end of this second round teams are ranked within their pool.

Ranking method:

  • Each victory wins 2 points for the team.
  • A defeat brings 1 point.
  • A withdrawal 0 points.

In case of draw (which is very frequent particularly in pools of 3) we calculate the team's quota by dividing the total points won by the total of points lost. The highest quota gets better ranking. This requires scoring sheets for each match.

For tournaments with variable partners we create 4 to 5 player pools. They will play in teams of 2 with each of the other players as partner. The rankings then allow to constitute new even levelled pools.

If we want to play in teams of 4, pairs of players (stable) will replace the names of players in the grid. Each pair will play each of the other pairs in the pool.


  • Number of matches (according to formula and number of teams).
  • Match duration (decide on the number of points per set).
  • A referee (a whistle) and a scorer per match.
  • A cipboard with a pen and scoring sheets.
  • A secretary : distributes and gathers scoring sheets. Manages the pools (provide table and chair).
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