Sample Volleyball Games and Activities

Before teaching these games, give each student a ball or balloon. Let them find self- space with their equipment. Recommended grade levels may be adjusted according to equipment and ability.

  • Practice tossing underhand and catching overhand. (all grades)
  • Practice tossing underhand and tapping overhand. (all grades: use balloons for kg and beach balls for grades one and two)
  • Practice going from neutral to forearm position. (grades 2 and up)
  • Practice tossing underhand and catching the ball on forearms. (grades 2 and up)
  • Practice tossing underhand and forearm passing to self. (grades 2 and up. Use beach ball for grade 2)
  • Practice continuous sets, forearm passes, or both. (grades 4 and up)
  • Teach underhand serve, overhand serve, and spike. Practice against a wall. Practice with partners. (grades 4 and up)

Warm-up, kg and first grade activities:

  • While moving through general space, tap or strike balloons.
  • Roll out as many beach balls as possible. The students strike the beach balls throughout the play area.
  • Tape lines on walls. The students strike the beach balls above the lines.
  • Set up a low net. Students strike the beach balls back and forth over the net.
  • Groups of four. Two students hold a rope while the other two strike a beach ball or balloon back and forth over the rope. Change roles every minute.
  • Give plastic bowling pins, empty tennis cans or inverted small traffic cones to half the class. They protect their target. Toss out ten to fifteen beach balls. The other half attempts to strike a beach ball so that it knocks down a target. After picking up a beach ball you may not move until after striking the ball. Score one point for each hit. Exchange roles every few minutes. Higher grades may use gator skin type balls.
  • In pairs, students attempt to strike a balloon or beach ball back and forth.

Step Back - Grade level: kg and up. Equipment: one manipulative that can be struck (may be tossed in kg and first grade) and caught for every two students. The game: Divide students into pairs. Partners start close together. Both partners take one step back with each successful strike and catch and one step forward with each miss. After they find a distance that is somewhat challenging, they count consecutive catches. They may also count how many successful catches in one or two minutes. Switch partners often. Safety: Do not throw or strike over anyone's head. There must be a clear path between partners. More advanced players may try to continuously strike the ball back and forth while moving away from each other.

Team Juggle - Grade level: 3 and up. Equipment: three to five balls for every group of five to eight students. The game: Each group forms a small circle. One student begins as the leader. S/he self sets or self bumps the ball to someone else in the group who is not standing directly next to him/her. That student catches the ball. The next student continues by performing the same type of pass to someone else. The pattern continues until everyone has had one chance. The last student passes the ball back to the first. Repeat the passing pattern. Always keep the same established pattern. After a few successful times around, add a second ball, then a third and so on. Variation: Use any volleyball pass, and/or use different kinds of volleyballs. Variation: After striking the ball, move to a new position or the position you just passed to. Safety: The first time around call the student's name before passing. Make sure s/he is looking at you before passing the ball. Cues: Always look back at the student who is passing the ball to you. Make careful passes.

Lightning - Grade level: 3 and up. Equipment: Two volleyballs, volleyball trainers, or playground balls for every group of six to ten players, one basketball hoop and two poly spots for each group. The game: Form two equal teams close to each hoop. Give one ball to the first student on each line. Each student self sets the ball from the starting line (poly spots). They can then self set from anywhere. They self set until the ball goes through the hoop. Alternatively, limit chances to a specific number, or allow the student to pass to next partner after three or four unsuccessful attempts. Score one point for each basket, pass the ball to next player on line, and go to end of the line. Play up to ten points or for a time limit and start again. Safety: Make sure your teammate is looking at you when you pass the ball.

Sports Exchange - Grade level: kg and up. Equipment: one piece of volleyball equipment for each player. The game: Give out several different kinds of volleyballs (trainers, beach balls, playground balls, balloons, regulation volleyballs). On the go signal, the students manipulate their piece of equipment. At a given signal, they exchange with someone else. Count one point for every different piece of equipment used. Variation: Students count consecutive taps with each piece of equipment. Safety: Know and respond to start and stop signals. Move carefully with equipment.

Keep Away - Grade level: 3 and up. Equipment: one volleyball or volleyball trainer for every four to five students. The game: Form a triangle or square around one student. The student in the middle attempts to intercept and/or touch the ball while the others self set it. Variation: Advanced players may skip the self set. The student in the middle either scores points or changes places with the last student who passed the ball. Variation: place two students in the middle. Safety: Be ready to catch or receive the ball. Pass with control.

Keep it Up - Grade level: 2 and up. Equipment: one ball or balloon for every group of four to six students. The game: See how long your group can keep the ball or the balloon in the air, or count consecutive taps. No one may tap the ball twice in a row. Variation: Everyone must tap the ball once before anyone can tap it again. Safety: Tap softly. Use the verbal cue "tap", instead of "hit." Try to stay in your own area. Variation: Play one group against another. See which group can keep the ball up the longest. Variation: Give each group two or three pieces of equipment. Time each round for 30 seconds. If successful with one ball, try two the next round. If successful with two, try three.

Advance Ball - Grade level: kg and up. Equipment: one volleyball, trainer, beach ball or balloon for every two to three students. The game: Pairs begin by standing next to each other on any starting line. One student moves far enough away from his/her partner so that s/he can catch the ball on a fly. Choose a volleyball pass or serve. After each catch, the partner without the ball moves while the partner with the ball must remain still. The objective is to advance the ball up and down the playing area as quickly as possible. Time each round for two to three minutes. This is a good lead game up for Multi-ball or Desert Island Volleyball. Variation: Fewest drops. Variation: Most distance with least amount of passes. Variation: Different kinds of passes. Variation: Switch equipment and/or partners after each round. Safety: Make sure there is a clear path to throw between partners.

Multi-ball - Grade level: 3 and up. Equipment: one volleyball, beach ball or trainer for every three to four students, pinnies for half the group. The game: Establish goal areas at opposite ends of the court. Each team begins in their own goal area with half of the balls. The object of the game is to score goals by performing a volleyball pass to a teammate in the opponents' goal area. You may not move with the ball. Use a volleyball serve, spike, forearm pass or overhand pass. When a goal is scored, the student who caught the pass should drop the ball and run to a central location to mark the score on a chalkboard or piece of cardboard. Either team may pick up a dropped ball. The person who dropped the ball may not pick it up. Passes may be intercepted. After a score or a dropped pass in the goal area, only the opposing team may pick up the ball. Note: this is one of the only games on my web site or in my book where I actually divide the class into two teams. However, because there is so much equipment being used, no one really knows the score during the game. I also stop the game very often and move players from one team to another in order to prevent the focus from becoming winning and losing rather than skill building. Additionally, because I am not a referee or scorekeeper, I am able to walk around and help students where needed. Variation: Allow only one type of pass. Safety: Move carefully.

Pound the Penguin - Grade level: 3 and up. Equipment: one traffic cone, one tennis ball and one volleyball trainer for every group of four or five. The game: Place the tennis ball on top of the traffic cone. One student guards the cone (penguin). S/he may use any part of his/her body or hands to block the ball. The other students - using a volleyball skill- pass the volleyball trainer until someone has a clear shot at the cone. Depending on the skill level, the students can catch the ball or continuously pass it. Use the spike to knock the tennis ball off the cone by hitting the ball or cone. The student who knocked the ball off becomes the new guard. Alternately, the student who got the assist becomes the new guard. Safety: Control passes and shots. Be careful, when retrieving loose balls.

Knock My Block Off - Grade level: kg and up. Equipment: one traffic cone, one small type ball, and one volleyball, volleyball trainer, or beach ball for every three to four students. The game: Set up the cones in a line in front of a wall. Leave about four to five feet between cones. Place a nerf type ball on top of each cone. The students attempt to knock the nerf ball off the cone by taking turns spiking the volleyball at the target. They score two points for hitting the nerf ball and one point if the nerf ball falls in any other way. Safety: Watch for other students crossing in front of you to retrieve a ball. Before spiking, make sure you have a clear path.

Five versus Three - Grade level: 4 and up. Equipment: two traffic cones, two nerf type balls and one volleyball or volleyball trainer for each group of eight. The game: Each group of eight plays their own small sided game. Use the width of the playing area. Place the two cones at opposite ends. Place the nerf balls on the cones. Divide each group into two teams. One team should have five and one team should have three. The team with five begins on offense. The idea is to pass the ball so that a teammate can spike the nerf ball off the cone. No one may move with the ball. As in basketball, they can establish a pivot foot. The team with five must score twice to get a point. The team with three only needs to score once. No one may knock or grab the ball out of anyone's hand. The defender must be at least three feet away from the student holding the ball. After a dropped ball, a shot, or a violation, the opposing team gains possession from that point. Any extra students can become referees. The referees can rotate into the game after each score. Variation: Instead of traffic cones, tape hoops to walls. The ball must be spiked or served into the hoop to score a point. Variation: Play 3 v.3 or 4 v. 4. Safety: Each group should stay in their own area. If a ball goes into another area, retrieve it carefully. Variation: Allow only volleyball type passes, or allow the students to throw the ball to each other.

Cooperative Volleyball Baseball- Grade level: 4 and up. Equipment: one volleyball or volleyball trainer for each group of four to six students; poly spots or traffic cones for dividing the play area so that each group can play in their own space; two poly spots or bases for each group. The game: Use the width of the play area. Place the two bases a reasonable distance apart depending on the age and ability of the group. Each group may decide this distance for themselves. One player in each group is the pitcher, one is the catcher, one is the batter, and the other(s) is/are the outfielder(s). The pitcher does not actually pitch the ball, but serves as a relay person. The batter must serve (volleyball style) the ball into the field of play. A ball that goes into another territory is a foul ball and is an automatic out (they only get one attempt). However, a ball that lands in the proper territory, but then goes into another area is considered fair. After the ball is served, s/he runs from one base to the other continuously until the catcher receives the ball from the pitcher. The fielders must pass the ball to each other using a volleyball pass. They may not move with the ball. When the catcher catches the ball, play stops. The batter scores one point for each base touched until the catcher has control of the ball. Points are scored each time a runner touches a base. After each play, rotate positions. Each time a player comes up, add the points to the previous total. Variation: Allow the fielders to throw the ball to each other, or insist on specific volleyball passes. Safety: If a ball goes into another game's territory, enter that territory carefully to retrieve the ball. Take it to the beginning of your own territory before passing it.

Volleyball Steal the Bacon - Grade level: 3 and up. Equipment: two volleyballs, trainers or beach balls and two hoops or upside down scooters to hold the volleyballs for each group of six to ten players. The game: The game is played like "Steal the Bacon," except that it is played in small groups with less running. One student becomes the leader in each group. This position should be rotated after each game. Every two students get the same number and line up opposite each other or diagonally across from each other. When the leader calls the number, the two students come out pickup a ball and do one of the following:

  • Forearm pass it to each group member
  • Overhand pass it to each group member
  • Serve it to each group member

The team completing the passes first receives one point.

Three - Four - Five Student Shuttle - Grade level: kg and up. Equipment: one volleyball (any kind) for every three to five students. For younger students, use balloons or beach balls. The game: Two students line up facing one student. The first student who is on the line of two holds the ball. S/he uses a volleyball pass to the student standing by himself/herself. Immediately after passing the ball, s/he runs to where the ball was passed and goes to the end of the line. After each pass, the passer runs to the other side. The object of the game is complete as many successful consecutive passes as possible in a given amount of time. A successful pass is defined as one that is self set by the passer and caught on the fly by the catcher. If the group has four students, two students face the other two. If the group has five students, three students face two. The team of three begins with the ball. Time each round for two to three minutes. Variation: Change the distances between players depending on skill level, change the kind of pass, and/or change the kind of ball. Variation: More advanced students can set and/or bump the ball continuously without catching the ball. Safety: Make passes soft enough for the partners to catch.

No Relay Relay - Grade level: kg and up. Equipment: any ball or balloon, two poly spots for each team. The game: Play as in any relay race. However, instead of each team completing the race by going once, play for a designated amount of time. Each team gets one ball and two poly spots. Set one poly spot down on the opposite side of the gym. Place the other poly spot down next to your line. The first person on line goes to the opposite side of the gym and stands with one foot on the spot. The next person on line uses a volleyball pass to try to get the ball close to the teammate on the opposite poly spot. That person must catch the ball before it bounces. If not caught on a fly, touch the person's hand on line behind you; s/he then runs to the ball and passes from that spot. You may not run with the ball in your hand. When the ball is caught by the person on the opposite poly spot (one foot must be on the spot), the team scores one point. The person who just passed the ball switches places with the person who caught it. The person who caught the ball runs it back to his/her team, places it on the other poly spot for the next person on line, and goes to the end of the line. The game continues in this manner. Variation: Use different kinds of volleyballs and/or use different volleyball passes. Variation: If using a balloon, teams of three to four students take turns tapping the ball towards their poly spot partner. The balloon must stay in the air or all return to the starting line. When their partner catches the balloon, score one point, next person on line becomes the catcher, and team runs back to the starting line to begin again.

Games Using a Net

Crazy Volleyball: Use a regulation volleyball court. Play with six or seven per side. The rest of the class may practice skills at one of the stations described below. Use three to four volleyballs. Volleyballs may be hit on a fly or after one bounce. Score one point for each volleyball that does not come back over the net. That ball is put into play immediately by a serve. Positions may be rotated every one to two minutes. Use one scorekeeper for each side of the net. Rotate scorekeepers into the game every few minutes. Allow unlimited hits for each volleyball. Variations: Substitute volleyball trainers or beach balls for volleyballs; allow more than one bounce; allow unlimited bounces as long as the ball is not rolling on the floor; allow only one kind of pass; use the width of the play area and play more than one game at a time.

Station to Station: Place a volleyball net in the middle of the gym. Form groups of six. Only two stations are at the net. The rest are on the periphery of the play area. Set up several stations:

  • Station 1: Volleyball overhead pass into basketball hoop. Group takes turns setting a ball into a basketball hoop. If a basketball hoop is not available, tape a hula hoop to the wall. Score one point for each success.
  • Station 2: Catch a serve is up. One person serves against the wall. Whoever catches the ball is up next. Score one point for each catch. More advanced players may bump or set the ball to themselves and then catch it.
  • Station 3: Use half of the net. Divide group in half. See how many times the group can keep a ball (any kind) going back and forth over the net.
  • Station 4: At the other half of the net, divide group in half. One team takes turns serving the ball, the other team, must begin with a forearm pass, the next person must set, the last person must spike. Score one point if ball goes over the net. Change roles: Variation: if a successful spike is made, play continues.
  • Station 5: Use another basket to play same game as station 1.
  • Station 6: Play Keep it Up. Count consecutives hits. Try to beat the best score. Variation: allow only forearm pass.
  • Station 7. Set up traffic cones, bowling pins, or tennis cans on a bench. Students take turns spiking the ball toward the target. If a bench is not available, play Knock My Block Off. Score one point for each hit.