The Volleyball Warm-Up: Pepper

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The Warm-Up: How to Play Two-Person Volleyball Pepper

After players have spent some time jogging, stretching and warming up their arms, pepper is usually the first drill that teams go to next. Pepper is not only a good warm-up drill but it fosters good ball control at the same time.

Pepper can be played with two or three people. The idea is to pass, set, hit and then dig, set, hit in that order for as long as the players can keep the ball in control. We'll start off explaining two-person pepper and then get into three-person at the end of this step-by-step.

To play pepper, two players should start by standing facing each other about 20 feet apart. One of the players should have one ball and be ready to begin the drill with an easy free ball toss to their partner.

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Pepper: Easy Toss, Easy Pass

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Player A starts the drill by tossing a nice, easy free ball directly to their partner. Player B should be in ready position before Player A tosses the ball. This means knees are bent, arms are out and weight is on the toes.

The drill begins when Player A tosses the ball. Player B gets in perfect position to pass the ball by moving her feet if necessary. Player B then passes the ball to the top of Player A's head. Player B should be striving for a perfect pass, meaning that Player A does not have to move to get to the ball.

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Pepper: Setting the Ball

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Hopefully, Player B will give Player A a perfect pass on the free ball toss. Player A's job now is to set the ball from a standing position back to Player B.

If necessary, he should move his feet to get in perfect setting position. His feet should be underneath him, he should set the ball from atop his forehead and his shoulders should face his target. The goal is to set the ball perfectly to his partner's hitting arm so that the partner does not have to move to get to the ball.

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Pepper: Hitting the Ball

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Player B will get into position to hit the ball from a standing position back to Player A. First, he will need to get his feet to the ball. Once in position, he should keep the ball in front of his hitting arm, take a step into it with the opposite leg and then take a nice, controlled but hard-driven swing at his partner.

Keep in mind that this is a warm-up drill. The first several swings should be nice and easy and hit directly at the partner. After both players are warm, the game can escalate so that players are diving and moving to get to the ball.

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Pepper: Digging the Ball

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After Player A sets the ball to her partner, she should get into digging position. She should get low by with a deep bend in her knees, her arms should be out and her head should be up concentrating on the hitter and ready to react to wherever the ball goes.

No matter how hard-driven the ball, her goal is to get the ball up in a controlled manner so that her partner can then set it back to her, she can hit it, her partner digs and the process continues. The pair will keep the ball alive as long as possible and play ends when the ball cannot be retrieved. The players will then start again with an easy toss until the drill is over.

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Pepper: Three-Person Pepper

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If one player would like to work on their setting or if there is an odd number of players on the floor, one solution is three-person pepper.

Three-person pepper is played in the same way as two-person except that there is a permanent setter placed just out of the line of fire about equidistant between the two players. Now, both players will attempt to pass and dig the ball to the setter instead of to each other.

The setter starts the play by tossing the ball to Player A. In three-person pepper, the setter always sets the ball to the player that has just passed or dug the ball to her.

Player A passes to the setter. The setter sets the ball back to Player A. Player A hits the ball to Player B. Player B digs the ball to the setter. The setter sets the ball back to Player B. Player B hits the ball at Player A and the drill continues until the ball cannot be retrieved.

The setter should be to the right of the passer at all times to most closely simulate a game situation. This means that after she sets the ball, she should cross between the two players so that she can be to the right of the next digger. This added movement allows her to get a good warm-up as well. After a certain period of time, the players should rotate so that each player gets a chance to set.