Coaching the Young Kids, Part 2

My last blog entry was about teaching kids how to play the entire game by allowing them to perform all skills in practice and matches. There is an offensive system that is great for younger kids because it is very simple, it is effective, and it allows multiple players to perform multiple skills in different positions on the court.

I am a huge advocate of the 6-3 system for young teams. The way it works is quite simple: Every other player on the court is a setter in two rotations. You can either have them set when they are middle front (similar to Rotation 5 in a 5-1 system) and right front (Ro 6), or when they are right front and right back (Ro1). When one of the 3 designated rotates out of these positions, another one rotates in.

There are a few reasons why I like this system. First, it gives three players on the court the opportunity to set. Second, each of those setters will also be a passer and a hitter when she is left front and Middle front (if you have them set when they are right front and right back). Third, it is very simple, which is critical for young teams. Fourth, you have the opportunity to put your best players in those three positions and they will have a huge impact on the team’s performance.

1. Allowing three players to set helps spread the wealth of that position. When running this system you can use 3 setters in one set or match, and then use 3 others in another, and voilà, you have exposed several players on your team to every basic position and all skills.

2. It will allow them to learn to be a setter, while also keeping them engaged as passers and hitters.

3. This system is simple because 2 rotations are repeated over and over again. When you say “rotation 1” or “ro 2” your players will know what that looks like and how you operate out of that rotation. You can have your setter set from the right-front position and only set in front (2s and 4s), or she can operate from the middle-front position and set front and back sets as soon as they are ready to back set.

4. Strategically it can be very good also, as you can put your three strongest players in these positions in certain sets and matches and they will anchor the team with their serving, passing, setting and hitting.

Some coaches argue that they need to run a 5-1 or a 6-2 to prepare them for high school volleyball. I disagree. What we need to teach them when they’re young is how to perform the skills and play the game. We can teach them how to run a 5-1or a 6-2 in an hour. But it takes a longer time to teach them the skills and to teach them how to play the game and read the game. Running a 6-3 is so simple that it allows them to focus on the game and not worry about whether or not they’re overlapping or when they need to switch, etc. Maybe you take a practice or two and show them how to run a 5-1 and a 6-2 and you teach them the basics of overlapping, but I think that the 6-3 is the way to go for the reasons stated above.

You might win more points and games by designating your best setter as the setter, and your best passer as the libero, and your best hitter exclusively as a hitter (I can easily argue that the opposite is more likely true–you will win more with a 6-3), but you will be denying them the opportunity to develop as players. Eventually, even in your own season, your team and the individual players will fare much better if they can all perform all of the fundamental skills.

Part 3 will likely have the title: “Strength and Conditioning (or not) for Young Volleyball Players”

Have fun with the little ones!

Rob Browning

5 comments on Coaching the Young Kids, Part 2

  1. Joe Trinsey says:


    You introduced me to the 6-3 a couple years ago, and it has worked out great for the younger kids. My parents’ club adopted it with their two 12s teams last year and really liked it. They are now in the enviable position of having “too many” younger kids who know how to set, and will probably keep it in place for the 12s and 13s now this year.

    The main positive they liked was getting to train the younger kids at all different positions. A 6-6 (or 6-0, however you want to call it) is good for younger kids, but often you are going to have a few kids who really struggle with setting. So when you get to a tough match that the team really wants to win, either those couple of weaker kids will cost the team a lot of points (which is a tough spot to put them in), or the more aggressive kids will start taking the second balls away from them, etc. So the 6-3 strikes a nice balance between training players in a variety of positions and still allowing your team to be successful which, even at the younger ages, the kids still obviously want to win. It just seems like the most flexible system I’ve seen for allowing the coach to give players opportunities to do lots of different skills.

    Also, I agree that it can actually allow the team to be even more successful at the younger age levels, because the best setters are usually just the best all-around volleyball players at that age. So if you run a 4-2, then that kid can’t hit in the frontrow and if you run a 6-2, they can’t pass in the backrow. But, as you said, the 6-3 allows you to basically put your 3 strongest all-around players in a triangle where they can all set, hit, and pass, which is really nice.

    And their 12-1 won the region and 12-2 got 3rd, so obviously it is still possible to win matches at the younger ages, without having to specialize kids into “setters”, “hitters”, and “passers” but instead just teach them to be really good “volleyball players.” So thanks for introducing me to that, and I know that my parents really like it for their club as well!


  2. Vic Troyan says:

    How about just running a 6-6? That way everyone gets to focus on all the skills.
    If someones hands are not great to begin with, have them bump set until their skills get better. (keep working on them in practice)

    I would start with the setter in middle front. This way you have 4 options – outside, offside, backrow and tips.
    Then later in the season I would move the setter to right front, now you can work on faster middle sets, slides and can split the hitters so that the opposing middle has to cover as much of the court as possible.

    Than when the team is ready I would move the setter to right back, so that they now get the same transition that happens in either a 6-2 or a 5-1.

  3. Name *Dorene says:

    Comment. Your suggestion to try the 6-3 sounds with the younger group of girls is good. I believe that it will cause less confusion and still offer the coach to view his setter selections. To introduce the 5-1 and the 6-2 may even be easier at the next level.

    Well that’s my thought and I am willing to try this at club.

    Thank you for the tips,


  4. A Yang says:

    I began running a 6-3 two years ago beginning at the 12U level, and it has brought great success. To use the system, you as a coach, need to teach all skills to all your players. It makes your job easier because you don’t have to worry about specializing.

    The only problem with the 6-6 is that you may have a player who does not want to set, or will struggle setting, thus having that player lose confidence. But I do see the benefits of that system as well.

  5. Chad Giron says:

    I was introduced to the 6-3 offense at a GMS coach’s clinic last year (2017) and immediately implemented it with my 13u team. It was a perfect solution for us at the time given our skill level and player interest. Our two best setters were our two best all-around players. They both set from the MF in a 4-2 offense, but they both still really wanted to hit when in the front row (who can blame them!). Our team was mostly at a beginner skill level, so trying to run a 6-2 was not a real option. We had another girl that was an OK setter, but really wanted to learn and become a better setter. Running a 6-3 was a win-win, as my two best setters still set 4 of the 6 rotations, but they both were also a front row hitter when in the LF position. AND my third setter got great practice, but never hurt the team too much as my two best players were available to help chase down an errant pass or hit over a bad set.

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