What Volleyball Workout Can Help Girls Improve Their Skills

I am frequently asked what type of volleyball workout is most effective

for girls playing in high school who want to improve their skills.

Girls volleyball players have several ways they can structure their

workout or practice in order to improve their volleyball skills, but I'm

going to focus on a way that I think directly contributed to my success

as a professional volleyball player.

One of my favorite suggestions is for girls to do their volleyball

workout with guys. If there's a way to work out with the boys

volleyball team or to pepper with one of the guys on the team that's an

excellent way to speed up your skill development process.

This is not a suggestion I'm making up just for you. I adopted this way

of doing my volleyball workout throughout my entire career.

Every chance I got as a high school volleyball player, a college volleyball

player and a professional beach volleyball player I tried to find a way to

practice or  do some part of my volleyball workout with a guys team

that was in the gym or in the same city or in my neighborhood.

Here's what I did as well.

In my free time, I would go to the city park and play with the guys who

would show up for the open gym for their volleyball workout, for games

or for practice sessions.

Yes, often I was the only girl, and the guys were bigger than I was, but

time after time I found the best pepper partners--the best volleyball

workout partners, guys who hit harder and faster which forced me to

have to stay low in defense in order to dig their hard hits. My volleyball

defense abilities improved at a faster rate.

I was also forced to read their arm swing so I could look for clues that

would help me anticipate where they were going to hit the ball.

Best of all, playing defense against hard hitters helped me develop

courage and confidence about digging balls that were hit right at me

with or without a block.

Even before my high school volleyball workout, during recess if my other

friends hadn't organized any pick up games then I would organize some

and I would ask my guy friends to play first.

How can I explain why I was so motivated to do my volleyball workout 

with guys?

Well for the most part I found that I was challenged more by

surrounding myself with guys that were physically bigger than I was.

Practicing with them helped me develop confidence in my abilities. When

guys play volleyball they don't give you time to doubt your abilities.

Especially in high school volleyball its all about competing to get as

many touches on the ball as possible.

Guys just want to compete during their volleyball workout or practice or

games or competition. They don't do a lot of self analysis like tend to


So, when I was playing with the fellas I learned to compete too. That

was the best part of learning how to play high school volleyball.

What I got from from working out with the guys wasn't necessarily a

technical knowledge of the volleyball game.

But what I did learn was how to have a competitive attitude. I learned

how to fight for a point, and how to be scrappy on the court.

It may not have looked pretty but it became very important for me not

to let a ball fall anywhere on the ground around me.

The "never let a ball drop" attitude I first adopted when I was practicing

pepper with Olympic gold medalist Eric Sato.

Eric is the younger brother of Olympian Liane Sato and current Olympic

Men's Volleyball coach and two-time gold medalist Gary Sato.  

When I was first learning the high school volleyball game, in my off

season I use to hang out with the Sato family. They would take me to

Liane's and Liz Masakayan's club or junior olympic volleyball practices

and tournaments.

When Liane and her best friend Liz Masakayan were playing volleyball, 

Eric and I would play pepper or do some sort of volleyball workout

continuously for hours on the sideline. We would never quit and he

would never let me get away with just letting the ball fall.

We peppered for hours all over the gym and even though he was

younger than I was, he was the youngest member at the time, in the

first family of American volleyball which meant he was technically more

advanced than I was. And that made me want to get better at the

game even more.

Although I didnt know it at the time, the lessons I learned from playing

defense with Eric for all those hours had a lasting impression on me.

Even after high school volleyball, when I came home occasionally from

college or even later on, between trips from Italy, when I needed to get

some indoor volleyball workout, we'd still get together at open gym

practice in Santa Monica because he would always challenge me to play

the best volleyball I could all the time I was on the court.

It's okay to play at 50% of your ability some time. But when it comes to

really competing to win, when you can train all the way through your

volleyball workout in a way that you have to play at high levels of

concentration and you have to play at the best of your abilities for

longer periods of time, that's when you are really making lots of progress

as a serious competitive volleyball player.

That's what happens when you play games or do your workout

with guys.  You learn to play hard, for longer periods of time.

Another benefit was that my mental toughness increased.

Starting when I played high school volleyball, I noticed that guys would 

say whatever was on their mind in a competition. After the volleyball

workout was over, it was like whatever they said never happened. For

the most part, guys leave everything on the court. Either you learn to

take it or you learn to give it right back.

I learned to dish it and I learned to take it. I definitely learned to talk on

the court and to be as verbal as they were without backing down easily

from an argument.

When I was playing with or against guys in high school volleyball, my

physical toughness improved also because guys hit harder and moved

quicker.  If they were going to continue to let me play and if I was

going to compete with them then I knew I'd have to learn how to dig

their hard hits and set the ball to them high and accurately so they

could hit the ball effectively against the opposing team.

I'd also have to learn how to place my shots and just play smarter

volleyball in order to add value to my team and so I'd be picked to play

in the next volleyball game.

I figured that  if I could do some sort of volleyall workout with guys on a

regular basis then I could play against guys which would ultimately mean

that I could definitely play well in a girl's high school volleyball game.

One thing that is important to note is that I didn't play to look cute or

waste their time. I played to improve my volleyball skills since I knew my

goal was to make the USA volleyball team and to become a professional

volleyball player in Italy.

As a sophomore, while playing high school volleyball I set these goals for 

myself and I did everything I could to reach them. One of the ways that

was effective for me was to keep finding high school volleyball workout

opportunities to play with people who were bigger, better and faster

than I was.

In college I played with the UT Men's club volleyball team in the

offseason. On the beach, I'd practice volleyball on the men's beach

volleyball courts at the famous Venice Boardwalk courts so that I could

hit on amen's net in the sand.

And it didn't stop there either, when they'd let me play- I'd play beach

volleyball  with/against guys in four against four and coed doubles

volleyball games in California.

Remember this idea of doing your volleyball workout with guys, may or

may not work for everybody but it may give you some ideas as to what

will work for you, especially if you are looking quick ways to improve

your high school volleyball skills.


Be sure to check out more articles on basic skills in volleyball in

Be The Volleyball Girl Your Varsity Coach Notices First 

Passing In Volleyball Skills 

How To Serve A Volleyball Overhand 

How To Block A Volleyball 

Return To Basic Skills In Volleyball From What Volleyball Workout Can

Help Girls Improve Skills

Return To Inspiring Female Volleyball Players From What Volleyball

Workout Can Help Girls Improve Their Skills 

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  • Monday Volleyball Class (ages 11 - 14) - Stupak Community Center 6 - 7:30
  • Tuesday Volleyball Class (ages 13 - 18) - Mirabelli Community Center 6 - 7:30
  • Wednesday Advanced/Varsity Only Class - Chuck Minker Sports Complex - 4:30 - 6pm - Contact Coach April first before coming if you've never been
  • Thursday Volleyball Class (ages 13 - 18) - Stupak Community Ctr. 6 - 7:30
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If you’ve never attended a Breakfast Club class contact Coach April BEFORE registering.

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About Brunch Club 60

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  • 60 minute intensive Training
  • Class Max 12 - Coed
  • Ages 13 - 15
  • No Beginners
  • Intermediate Skill level
  • Registration is Open
  • Stupak Community Ctr 
  • Pay $195 for a four class pack Breakfast Club 60 
  • Pay $195 late registration (1-3 Mondays)


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