Now that you know how to run a carousel ball control drill, apply it to your defense. Head coach Lind­say Peter­son will show you how.

Ball control—annoying, frustrating, time-consuming, important, a way to win games, the list goes on and on. In the 14 years I’ve been coaching, these are just a few of the ways I’ve heard my players describe ball control. 

Every year, I feel like I have to evolve with my players to try and find new ways to improve on this skill in practice, all while keeping them interested. In my last blog, I talked about an attacking carousel drill I like to start my practices with once a week. But we don’t stop there.

Digging carousel

My first blog covered Monday’s ball control drill—now let’s go over Tuesday’s. I know, it’s another carousel. But the truth is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

This is a timed drill and each rotation lasts 3–5 minutes. Here’s how it works.

  1. Divide your team into three groups. (You need at least three kids per group for this to work.)
  2. Each player gets five balls. 
  3. Group one: hitter on a box in right front, a target in the setting position, a defender digging out of middle back
  4. Group two: hitter on a box in left front, on the other side, digging cross court
  5. Group three: hitter on the box in left front as well, digging down the line in right back
  6. When time’s up, rotate to the next box: the hitter becomes the digger, the digger becomes the target, and the target becomes the hitter.
This is how your players should line up for the drill on the court.

Change it up

  • Switch your carousel by pushing the boxes underneath the net. Have the outside dig a line shot, the right side dig cross court, and the middle back dig to their right
  • If the ball control tossing and hitting isn’t there yet, have your hitters throw the ball with some pace on it.

What to watch

The best part of this drill is that all players get the opportunity to play defense out of every position. Most college coaches would tell you that a player who can play all six rotations is a player they’re more likely to be interested in.  

This drill also shows coaches who’s able to read and defend well. This would be a great drill to record and upload to your Hudl account. Use the film to send players feedback on their defensive positioning and how they’re moving. I also like to use this drill at tryouts, it lets me see what the defenders are able to do.

If you missed my first drill on ball control, check it out here.

Lind­say Peter­son has been a var­si­ty head coach for eight years. She played for the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Alaba­ma, help­ing them win the DII Nation­al Cham­pi­onship in 2003. Peter­son has led her Mil­lard North High School team to the state cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment sev­en times, win­ning in 2016 and 2018. She was named one of the top 40 coach­es in the coun­try by the AVCA, and Coach of the Year by the Oma­ha World-Herald.