Brazilian Junior Volleyball



Brazilian Junior Volleyball
(Based upon the upcoming Brazilian Mini Volleyball DVD by JVA)
By John Sample and Dave Weitl
hat if your coaching
assignment this year was
a 14 & under team ­
and you wete told that you could
only play 4-on-4? What if you had
an 11 & under team and you were
told you could only play 3-on-3?
What if your 14 & under and 15
& under teams required thar every
player must play every posirion)
What if your charter was to teach
cooperation, responsibility and
respect as rhe primary mission
and you were instructed to use
volleyball as the tool to do it)
Welcome to Brazilian volleyball.
There has always been mystique sur­
rounding Brazilian volleyball, whether ir is
at rhe youth, junior or adult level. In the
past 25 years, Brazil has dominated rhe po­
dium at vitrually every world competition
at all levels of both male and female divi­
sions. One might argue that Brazilian vol­
leyball has been the best in the world. \X!hy
is this? Is it because of the training, the
players. the pipeline for younger players, or
possibly the nature of Brazilian culture)
TIlese were my thoughts on the long
flight from Dallas to Rio de Janeiro. Waiting
for me at the airport in Rio was my friend
and fellow club director from Seattle, Dave
Weitl of Washington Volleyball Academy.
We were given access to some of the top
youth programs in Brazil, and they would
be allowing us to watch and film mini and
youth volleyball training. We were both
curious to see how much impact the mini
volleyball programs in Brazil had on rhe
success of the Brazilian Narional Teams and
the Brazilian "Superliga," one of the top
professional volleyball leagues in the world.
Our assignment was to bring home infor­
mation to help USA Clubs with the train­
ing of mini volleyball (8 - 12 year olds) here
in the United States. A formidable task, but
one we were fully prepared to execute.
Dave was already in Brazil because over
the past six yeats he has been taking ju­
niors teams to Brazil to train and compete
rhrough a unique exchange program with
rhe Minas Tenis Clube of Belo Horizonte.
He had been in Brazil for 10 days before
r arrived. We were meeting at the airporr
in Rio de Janeiro, where his te
and coaches were spending t
final day in Brazil before heat
back home to the USA.
The JVA had assigned us
task of collecting video footage
terviewing experts and researd
the world of "Mini-Volei", as
called in Brazil, for the proJUCI
of a DVD for JVA member CO~
es. We had done our research
scheduled our appointments
we knew that it was going to
busy week for us.
Our first stop was in Rio
we lost little time in finding I
ing oppottunities. Driving by the beau
beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana
encountered miles of beautiful beach,
even more impressive to us were the
volleyball courtS that stretched as far a:
eye could see. We got some great fOG
as we drove, then walked and filmeJ a
watched volleyball being played by SCI'
juniors, totS and coeds of every age. W
saw "futsal" being played (a ver~ion of
on-five soccer played on a small court!~
aIso available in the US) along with faa
ley. Foot volley is an amazing game of
on-two soccer using three contacts pel
and pJayed on a sand volleyball COLlrt­
using soccer conract rules: feet only. Yo
see this game on Youtube at
com/watch?v=ROptRgOpIcg. All a
athletic action was taking place on literally
hundreds of courts. That's right; I said hun­
dreds of beach courts! In many places the
courtS were four and five deep between the
densely packed rows of hotels and the crash­
ing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It rook
a full 25 minutes ro drive from one end
of Copacabana Beach to the other end of
Ipanema Beach. It was then that we knew:
this was going ro be one tough assignment.
Volleyball in the United States is one
of the fastest growing sports for girls, and
there are currently over 400,000 junior
club players. Volleyball trails only soccer
as the number two sport in Brazil, which
may be described more appropriately as a
religion than a sport. Volleyball in Brni I
is played by over a million juniors and an­
other half million adults.
During our stay in Brazil, we visited four
cities and watched many hours of mini-vol­
leyball training, juniors training and com­
peting, as weH as observing while the men's
national team and some professional teams
trained. We focused primarily on youth
training (ages 8 to 12). What we found
was a little confusing because there was
very little six-on-six being played anywhere
by players under 14. Generally, the young
players are divided into groups of 8-9 year
olds, 10-11 year olds, 12-13 year olds, and
over 14 year olds.
The level of volleyball in each of these age
groups was not as high as we expected, and
although we saw hundreds of players, we
saw very few with exceptional skills at the
younger ages. Trying to reconcile the level of
volleyball we are accustomed CO seeing from
Brazilian professional and national teams
with the level we were seeing in these clubs
was confusing to say the least. Being the in­
ttepid explorers we are, we decided to delve
deeper into what makes Brazilian volleyball
so great. What we learned has caused both
of us co rethink the way our club imple­
ments volleyball at the younger ages.
Brazilian volleyball is run by the
Confederas:ao Brasileira de Voleibol
(Brazilian Volleyball Confederation) and
takes part in national and international vol­
leyball competitions. For most volleybaH
enthusiasts in Brazil, the cultural leader of
the sport is Bernardo Rocha de Rezende,
also known as Bernardinho. Since 2001,
Bernardinho has been the head coach of
Brazil men's narional ream and, prior ro
rhar, was rhe head coach of rhe women's
narional ream. As a coach, Rezende is rhe
grearesr champion in rhe hisrory of vol­
leyball, accumularing more rhan 30 major
rides in his 20-year career direcring ehe
Brazilian male and female eeams.
In an effon ro bener organize rhe junior
side of Brazilian volleybaJl, Bernardinho be­
gan a yourh movement rhar divided ehe play­
ers inco ehe 8-9, 10-] 1, 12-13 and 14 and
older caregories. Foregoing rhe normal erain­
ing rechniques, each age group was organized
around a culeural objeceive, wieh voUeybaU
serving as rhe cool co implemenr ir.
Bernadinho formulaeed a progression of
objeceives to focus on as rhe young players
move rhrough ehe age divisions. Wirh 8-9
year olds ehe focus is cooperation-wirh mose
drills being organized around one-on-one and
cwo-on-rwo acrivieies co maximize cOntacrs.
Mosr drills are designed co require acrions
rhae are dependenc upon whae is occurring on
rhe orher side of rhe ner, i.e., "reading" rhe
opponenr's movemenrs. 1he couns are scaled
down co accommodaee ehe sm,Jler size of rhe
players and rhe ner is lower co facilieaee lors
of successful coneacrs. Faccors: smaJler coun,
lower nee, seeeing to score, ripping co score,
coil shoes co score, underhanded serving, pass­
ing, reperieion, placemenr over rhe ner based
upon rargers or acriviry across rhe ner.
The 10-1 1 age groups are designed
around responsibility. Noe only are rhe
players responsible for rheir team and
coach, bue they must demonserare respon­
sibiliry at home, school and wirh friends
to gain a passing grade and progress. Their
drills are designed mainly around a three­
on-three format and rbe focus is respond­
ing again to whar is happening wirh rhe
three players on the orher side of rhe ner.
Faccors: smaller cou rt, lower net, setti ng ro
score, fronc sets, ripping co score, rolls shors
co score, underhanded serving, passing,
repeeirion, placement over net based upon
opponenes' aceiviry.
Ages 12-13 organize in four-on-four for­
marions and focus on rhe cultural of respect.
The respecr is again d irecred rowards rhe
game, rhe ream, rhe coaches, rhe opponenrs
as well as family, school, and even friends.
Games of four-on-four are again rhe rool
rhar is used ro reach respecr. Facrors: smaller
courr, lower ner, serring ro score, fronr sers,
back sers, ripping ro score, hirring ro score,
underhanded serving, passing reperirion,
one-rhree or rhree-one (fronr row-back row)
courr alignmenr, placemenr over ner based
upon opponenr's movemenrs.
In each of rhese age groups, rime was
spem ralking among rhe parricipanrs abour
rhe social progress rhey were making, how
rhey were responding ar home or school
and whar skil! drills, comperirive drills or
games rhey would be doing in pracrice
rhar could relare ro respecr. Some common
denom inarors in each of rhese age groups
were serving underhanded, tipping and roll
shors, serring on borh sides of rhe ner and
passing ro rarger. In addirion, rhe besr play­
er was always placed wirh the worst player
for drills wirh insrrucrions ro help rhe orher
player improve, meaning thar both players
learn to become better teammates.
]he focus of 8-13 year olds was on both
rechnical and tactical volleyball skills as well
as the developmenr of social and cui rural
skills through drills with very litrle com­
petition. We were also surprised to see rhe
high level of play emerge suddenly when
rhe players are hnally allowed to compere
once rhey reach 14 years old. Apparenrly
wairing for G years ro compere in six-on­
six play awakens an eager spirit EO go along
wirh rhe grear ream antrude of coopera­
rion, responsibiliry and respecr, nurrured in
these players through their paniciparion in
For more information on our research
and Brazilian mini volleyball, drills, rech­
nigue and rhe conceprs behind rhe culrural
aspecrs of Brazilian volleyball, warch for rhe
new OVO, "Brazilian Mini VoJleyball" pre­
senred by JVA, available in January. C

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