By: April Chapple - Greater Toronto Area Volleyball
Many girls volleyball players don't know how to use the Pepper Warm up Drill as a way to improve their volleyball game. Below are 5 ways elite volleyball players use "Pepper" as a way to improve their volleyball defensive skill.
1. To Improve Ball Control volleyball skills.
2. To Improve Serve Receive volleyball technique.
I think that Pepper is the number one way for indoor volleyball players to improve their volleyball control skills...if they know how to do it. You have to be aware of why you are Peppering in the first place. If not, then it just becomes a way to raise your body temperature... some.
a. When YOU set-whoever sets should be working on proper volleyball setting skill, form and technique.
The Goal- the volleyball should go right to your partner without them taking more than one step in any direction to chase your ball.
b. When Your partner passes back-concentration should be on using excellent form for serve receive and free ball passing-especially now since this is an easy ball.
The Goal- first to pass the volleyball so she/he can hit the ball right back without taking more than one step. Secondly, bump setting practice for accuracy so each and every ball goes right back to above the hitters extended hitting arm.
c. When You hit. You hit a controlled 1/2 to 3/4 speed down ball right to your partner.
In this instance you have a controlled situation in which to improve your skill and practice the finer points of your armswing. Concentrate -on "reaching" raising your elbow and hitting high while controlling the ball speed. Don't hit by your ear just because there's no net! Hit low in Pepper means you hit low in hitting warm ups and then in a volleyball game. Trust me-it all transfers. Your body is recording every movement you make it do-so pledge to yourself to do the volleyball skill and the movements right.
The Goal- To hit the spot you are aiming for-which in Pepper is right to your partner-sothat she doesn't have to move more than one step UNLESS you choose to mix up your attack and include a tip to your partner. Highly recommended after you have improved your ball control.
d. Your partner digs-focus on being down in your defensive position before your partner hits the ball meaning by the time they make contact. Because Pepper partners are relatively close together you will automatically be developing quick reflexes. Here is where you practice combining quick reflex with BALL CONTROL. React quickly...then control the ball. React quickly then c-o-n-t-r-o-l the ball.
The Goal- Learning to absorb a hard hit ball at a close distance and delivering that ball (softly, gently people) in control to your target without making them move more than one step. Fight to perform the volleyball skill correctly and to maintain control of the ball.
3. To Increase Your Range in your Defensive Volleyball Skill.
Advanced players can challenge their partners (you both need to agree to make the drill work) by tipping the ball further and further out of reach - the more of these balls you get in pepper-the more you will get in the game. It all transfers. Or by hitting a 1/2 to 3/4 speed down ball a foot or 2 to the right or left of the defender will increase your range of harder hit defensive balls that you dig up around you.
4. To Narrow Your Focus and Concentration
Many times Pepper warm ups take place in a crowded environment. Either with 25 teammates on either side of you, or near that net divider that separates the courts in a volleyball tournament, fans that walk up and down the aisles, team benches, believe it or not this is a great practice opportunity- to narrow your focus and increase volleyball concentration skills so that it doesn't matter what happens around you ...the world can come to an end but your focus is only on the volleyball.
5. To Increase Your Reactions and Reduce Fear of the Ball
As your ball control gets better then you and your Pepper partner should agree to challenge each other to make each other better players. I had fantastic pepper partners in college (Beverly Robinson) and in Italy (Paula Weishoff, Elaina Oden) who would run me ragged, pushing me and peppering all over the court in pre game warm ups. This was how my defensive volleyball skills improved tremendously.
When you get to the point when you are exchanging 10-12 pass,set,hit combinations in a row Stop and both of you commit to hitting harder at each other. About 3/4 the speed of your regularly hit spike-BUT YOUR GOAL is to still work up to as many pass-set-hit exchanges as you can while Controlling the ball. Your digs should still be going right to each other.