Out of System Volleyball Drills Hitters Learn To Hit Imperfect Sets 

If an outside hitter gets a perfect set its an "in-system" set. We do out of system volleyball drills so hitters learn how to hit and score with imperfect sets. 

The out of system volleyball drills are designed to help you improve the various ways you need to be able to attack or spike an imperfect set. (CharlieJ)The out of system volleyball drills are designed to help you improve the various ways you need to be able to attack or spike an imperfect set. (CharlieJ)


What is out of system in volleyball?

If the outside hitters get a perfect set, which is also called an "in-system" set, then the expectation is for them to generate enough power with the momentum they generate from their spike approach and quick arm swing to put the ball on the opposing team's  floor. 

And if they get an imperfect set, or an "out-of-system" ball the expectation is the same...to do something smart with the ball so it gets to the opponent's court floor for a point. 


Hitters are required  to "put the ball" on the floor for their team and they have to learn how to do so in perfect and imperfect situations.

Their job is to score points especially so for the left side hitters. 


Out of System Volleyball Drills
For Outside Hitters


Outside hitters can be compared to running backs on a football team or forwards on a basketball team. 

Out of System Volleyball Drills Hitters Learn To Hit Imperfect Sets: Tulane outside hitter attacking against one block.Out of System Volleyball Drills Hitters Learn To Hit Imperfect Sets: Tulane outside hitter attacking against one block. (Michael Johnston)

Another important reason to do certain out of system volleyball drills is to understand how and when to use smart tactics to hit the ball hard and when to hit the ball smart to a specific spot on the court. 




Out of System Volleyball Drills
The Importance of Smart Hitting


Smart hitting means to practice knowing when, where and how to hit to certain areas of the court, especially when you get an out of system set.  

A hitter always has options, you just need to know what they are and you need to do plenty of volleyball hitting drills so you know

  • when to hit hard
  • when not to hit hard
  • where to hit when hitting hard and where to hit when not hitting hard

The outside hitters are called upon to terminate the ball for a point.

Yep, some of the nicknames for the outsides include

  • cannons
  • bombers 
  • terminators

because their single most important job after they get the ball from their setter is to put the ball on the opposing team's court floor.

Here's one of the volleyball hitting drills we frequently do for outside hitters to learn how to hit hard past the block and past the diggers to score points.

On one half court is me, the coach, who tosses to a setter who sets to the left side hitter.

On the other side of the net is one blocker in Zone 2 who attempts to block the spiker and three diggers behind her in the backrow who try to dig the balls that get past the block. 



Me, the coach, will toss 15 balls to the setter who sets to the left side hitter.

Out of 15 sets we set a goal for the hitter.

The goals might be:

  • the first side to score 10 points wins
  • which side scores the most in a set amount of time

Things to work on

  • the hitter practices scoring points under pressure 
  • attacking against one block
  • attacking against a double block
  • hitting cross court hard
  • hitting high seam or high off the blocker hands
  • using the block to score points
  • scoring points by spiking only: no tipping allowed
  • problem solving


Seven-time NCAA Division I Womens Volleyball champion Penn State head coach Russ RoseSeven-time NCAA Division I Womens Volleyball champion Penn State head coach Russ Rose at Stupak


Seven-time NCAA Division One champion coach Penn State's Russ Rose does a version of this drill in his practices. 

Check out how he explains his version in the video below. 

I learned a ton from doing out of system volleyball drills when I was in college with Penn State coach Russ Rose. (I went to University of Tennessee Knoxville but during summers and offseason I'd train with Russ.)

Much of the way I coach now is inspired by alot of what I learned from him as a player. 

It worked when I was a collegiate player and many of the techniques and tips worked when I was professional player. 

Listen in as Russ shares some of  his coaching philosophy along with his volleyball hitting drills. 


As a professional left side hitter, I trained to hit both the perfect "in-system" sets and the imperfect "out-of-system" sets.  

My role as a left side hitter was that of a "vacuum cleaner"...I was responsible for picking up and putting away all types of balls and all types of sets.. that meant everything, the good stuff and the trash

Even if I got a ball set to the outside that was too low, or too fast, or too far off the net, it was still my responsibility to do something with it so that I could score a point for my team. 

I expect the hitters I train on high school and club teams to adopt the same mindset.

These out of system volleyball drills help hitters practice spiking in perfect and imperfect situations.  

Here's the Portland State coach Michael Seeman demonstrating how he runs his version of the same 'One Hitter vs Six Players on Defense" hitting drill at the Art of Coaching Clinic in Portland this year. 

Different coaches tweak this same drill the way they need it so they can work on improving different aspects of hitting the ball against a six-person defense. 





  1. Improve Your Volleyball
  2.  ›
  3. Volleyball Drills for Setters, Hitters, Liberos, Passers and Blockers
  4.  ›
  5. Out of System Volleyball Drills Hitters Learn To Hit Imperfect Sets


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Adopt a fearless attitude about hitting. Great hitters have confidence in their ability to hit against any block.
Become a tenacious tiger about hitting against a two-person block. Remember you have options making you effective against a two-person block.
Exploit the holes in the block. Look for holes between the middle blocker and the outside blocker in front of you. Aim your spike fearlessly right for that “seam.”
Exploit the holes in the block. Look for holes between the middle blocker and the outside blocker in front of you. Aim your spike fearlessly right for that “seam.”
Ask your back row players, between plays, to tell you whether the middle blocker is late closing the block. They are perfectly positioned to help you see what is going on in the front row.
Wipe the ball off the block. “Use” the block instead of always trying to hit past it. You can learn to wipe the ball off the hands of the outside block no matter how tall you are.
Spike the ball aiming for the outside arm of the outside blocker in front of you.
Hit the ball hard so it comes back off her arm and outside the sideline. Hitting like this keeps the defense from covering the ball, makes points, creates sideouts, keeps you in the game...