The importance in winning the learning competition is paramount. For more than a decade in this blog, I have used titles like “STOP Teaching [Blank]” as a way to get coaches to think about change. Some coaches think I am calling for an absolute ban on whatever I am observing, so I started using the word “limit” to help others really ponder the intent of the message. In the end, it's about efficiency and effectiveness in learning.
When drills are the primary source of learning, players aren’t actually learning how to play volleyball. More effective learning takes place in the chaos/randomness of practice and games as the brain is forced to exit the groove of expectation and problem-solve in novel situations. It comes down to putting the constraints in various ways in small-sided games like doubles, then moving toward the 6x6 game. Remember, contacting the ball is how we develop motor skills, not watching someone contact it.
Variability is the most effective learning method and is crucial to staying healthy. Chronic injuries occur when performing the same action repeatedly. While coaches may seek to see such a “groove” of repetition, the human body is not a machine and is best kept healthy with variability in movement (This is why it is great for kids to change sports in a year). While practicing, let your players explore. Have them warm up with only legs, lead with their non-dominant hand, avoid forearm contact, or something else. Your players need your gym to be, in the words of former U.S. Men’s National Team Assistant Bill Neville, - an “Exploratorium.”