This is an excerpt from Coaching Youth Volleyball 4th Edition eBook by American Sport Education Program.
The standard pieces of equipment for volleyball include balls, nets and antennae, standards and padding, knee pads, and appropriate apparel. But how do you know when this equipment meets proper specifications and is in good repair? As a coach, you must examine the condition of each item you distribute to players. Also make sure that the pieces of equipment they furnish themselves meet acceptable standards. You should ensure that each player on your team is outfitted properly, and you may need to demonstrate to players how to properly wear their equipment. Following is additional information on the common equipment used in volleyball:
Standards for volleyballs as recommended by USA Volleyball are noted in "Age Modifications for Volleyball" on page 22, but your local league may also have specific requirements for the balls that you use. To introduce skills and vary the learning environment during practices, you can experiment with the use of punch balloons, beach balls, or rubber-bladder balls. Ideally, each player should have her own legal volleyball so that she can become more familiar with the weight and feel of the ball. This also makes it easy for players to practice at home.
A regulation volleyball net is commonly used in youth play. The net is attached to poles, called standards, that are placed three feet outside of the playing area. For youth play (as opposed to higher levels), your league may give you the flexibility to create a net if you do not have access to a real volleyball net. For example, you can use ropes or badminton nets by raising them to volleyball height. Whatever the form, you must regularly inspect all equipment for wear and tear, loose or sharp parts, and other defects, and you must replace or repair the equipment as necessary. The standards used to hold the net should be securely anchored and should be padded for safety. In beach play, net antennae are not normally used, but for indoor play, antennae should be securely placed on the net and should be regularly inspected for defects. Bicycle safety flags attached to the net over the sidelines of the court, or floor tape placed on the net, can be good substitutes for official net antennae.
The use of knee pads on grass or beach surfaces is allowed, but knee pads are typically worn for games played on hard surfaces in order to make it easier for players to tolerate hitting the floor. Knee pads are made of foam or rubber covered with a soft elastic material. The pads should fit snugly. For younger players, soft-surface elbow pads such as those worn in many youth contact sports may actually fit better when used as a knee pad.
At the youth level, most practice and competition uniforms are as simple as shorts and T-shirts. For practices, you may permit your players to wear whatever they choose as long as the clothing is unrestricting and allows the player to move freely. When considering game uniforms, however, you must first check with your league, because some leagues require a team to wear matching shirts and shorts. Your league may also require the team jerseys to be numbered. Typically, a smaller number should be placed in the upper center of the front of the jersey, with a larger number in the upper center of the back of the jersey. The color of the numbers should be in contrast to the jersey color so the numbers can be easily seen.
During both practices and games, players should wear a type of athletic shoe that is comfortable, supports the arch, and cushions the heel and the ball of the foot. Shoes should be broken in before they're worn during intense activity. Volleyball or court shoes are fine for playing on hard courts. Running shoes are not recommended, however, because they don't give lateral support to the foot. When playing on grassy or beach surfaces, some players choose to wear shoes, while others prefer to play barefoot. Many beach players play in socks to protect the feet from heat exposure or burning from the sand.
Players may be able to participate while wearing casts, braces, splints, or prostheses, as long as any hard, exposed surfaces are covered and padded. In this situation, the player should be cleared to play by a doctor, and the equipment should be inspected and approved by the game official.
At the youth level, volleyball is typically played 3v3 for the 6- to 9-year age group, 4v4 for the 10- to 11-year age group, and 6v6 for the 12- to 14-year age group. In the following sections, we describe the basic player positions when starting a match for each of these versions of the game.
Positions for 3v3
For 3v3 volleyball, the players are positioned in a triangle formation where one player is in the frontcourt (the front half of the court) and two players split the backcourt (the back half of the court), as shown in figure 3.3. The responsibilities of these three players are as follows:
• Position A (passer). This position is considered the first contact position; the player in this position initiates the start of play with a serve on offense and makes first contact on balls coming over the net from the opponent. This player will become the secondary setter if the player in position B (the primary setter) receives the first ball over the net. The player in position A may also become a secondary hitter if the player in position C is not in position to attack or if the setter (player B) chooses to set to player A.
• Position B (setter). The player in this position is the primary setter on offense and the primary blocker on defense. This player should always strive to make the second contact (the set to the attacker). However, this player may become a secondary attacker if the player in position C (the primary attacker) makes the second contact and sets the ball for one of the other players to attack.
• Position C (hitter). The player in this position will make most of the third contacts and is considered the primary attacker on offense and the primary digger on defense. This player may become the secondary setter if the first contact is made by the player in position A or B.
Positions for 4v4
For 4v4 volleyball, the players are positioned with one player in the front row and three players in the back row, as shown in figure 3.4. The responsibilities of these four players are as follows:
• Position A (right-back passer or hitter). This position may be considered the first contact position; the player in this position will initiate the start of play with a serve on offense and may also make first contact on balls coming over the net from the opponent. This player may become the secondary setter if the player in position B (the primary setter) receives the first ball over the net on defense.
• Position B (center-front setter). The player in this position is the primary setter on offense and the primary blocker on defense. This player should always strive to make the second contact (the set to one of the attackers). However, this player may become a secondary attacker if she plays the first ball over the net and another player can set to her for the third contact.
• Position C (left-back passer or hitter). The player in this position is a primary attacker on offense and will make many of the third contacts for the team. This player is also a primary crosscourt digger on defense. This player may become a secondary setter if the served or attacked ball is played by the player in position B and the player in position A is unable to set the second contact.
• Position D (center-back passer or hitter). The player in this position is a secondary attacker on offense. This player is also a secondary crosscourt digger and may take many of the first contacts on defense or on serve receive. This player may occasionally become a secondary setter if the player in position B cannot take the second contact and neither player in positions A or C can step in to make that contact.
This is an excerpt from Coaching Youth Volleyball, 4th Edition.