Salima Rockwell Trainer+ Drills

Salima Rockwell, head coach of Notre Dame, presents new Trainer+ drills at the third annual Blueprint Coaching Clinic in Bellaire, Texas

Rockwell began coaching at Notre Dame in January, 2022. Before taking over Notre Dame’s program, she spent nine years coaching at her alma mater, Penn State University where she specialized in working with setters and offense. In her time as a student-athlete, Rockwell was named a three-time All-American setter for the Nittany Lions and was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team where she made appearances with Penn State in both 1993 and 1994.

Rockwell along with Stanford Head Coach Kevin Hambly and former Minnesota Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon have recently hosted the third annual Blueprint Volleyball Clinic on May 19th and 20th in Houston, Texas. Together, the three formed Blueprint Volleyball in order to teach holistic coaching and start conversations with coaches about creating healthy cultures for their athletes that allow them to succeed.

At the clinic, attending coaches learn beneficial drills for all player positions to take back to their teams. 

The Trainer+ is a Sports Imports training tool specifically designed for setters. The product includes two different sized rings, making it ideal to practice accuracy. Its versatility makes the Trainer+ convenient. Features include labeled infinite net height, easy-glide wheels for smooth mobility, and four different head frames that are easily interchangeable.

In 2021 when the Trainer+ was initially released, Rockwell created drills to work with the new product. Now, she has presented 6 more drills that were first shown during the Blueprint Coaching Clinic attendees. Sports Imports is excited to highlight Rockwell’s 6 new drills.

Drill 1: Against the Flow

Concept for setter: Working on isolating hitters by either setting against the flow of the pass or the opposite way that the middle ‘cheats’. 

  • Setter is at the net or penetrating from the back row 
  • Toss balls far in front of them and have them set behind 
  • Toss balls behind them for the long front set OR the pipe 
  • Toss perfect pass and have them jump set either in front or behind 
  • Progress drill with a middle at the net flowing with the ball to help with peripheral vision as well 
  • On a perfect passhave the middle leave early and setter sets opposite direction 
  • Also advance to a person holding up 1 or two fingers on other side of net (1 means outside, 2 means right side or whatever you prefer) 


Drill 2: Call Ou

Concept for setter: Staying neutral all the time 

  • Setter can start at the net in ready position 
  • Tosser calls out hut (or whatever you call the outside ball) OR red (back set) 
  • The drill evolves over time with how quickly you call it 
  • Early on, right after you toss, call it out 
  • As they get good at it and advance, call it right before they are about to set the ball 
  • Mix up the calls so they stay neutral and look the same before they set every time. 


Drill 3: Outside vs Outside

Concept for setter: One specific attacker is your best scorer

  • Ball is initiated with a down ball from one side 
  • Setter must set the outside hitter on first ball 
  • During the rally they can set anyone but no point is scored 
  • The only way to score a point is when the outside hitter gets a kill 
  • Play out rally and alternate down balls 
  • Games to 5 or 7 win by two

Drill 4: 2 Fer

Concept for Setter: Developing  a certain set or play call  (Backrow or middle) 

  • Drill is initiated by down ball or free ball- 
  • 2 points are awarded for a kill by the back row or middle (two different drills not within the same drill) 
  • Any other way of scoring will be worth 1 point (kill, block) 
  • Setters need to be aware of score at all times-It will help them know who to set, how to score and win at crucial times. 
  • Higher point scoring game to 12 or 15. 


Drill 5: 

Concept for setter: They need to have the ability to know what’s going on in the moment-who they are setting, who they need to set etc. 

  • On a white board write down vertically different sets,for example: 4, go, 1, 31, 5 slide, pipe 
  • Alternating down balls or free balls 
  • When a certain set on your side converts into a kill you can check it off the list ( if you set it again, there is no point awarded) 
  • The side that gets through all the sets first (in any order) wins. 
  • Everyone on the team needs to be aware of what’s left, who to set and should also be involved in talking throughout the drill.  


Drill 6: Attack vs Defense

Concept for setter: Block scheme on the other side of the net-they need to run their offense accordingly. 

  • This is a one-sided drill that is not played out 
  • Ball is entered to the offense side with someone handling the first down ball or free ball 
  • Second side is in a defensive scheme or blocking position at the net 
  • Bunch read 
  • Spread 
  • Commit 
  • Follow  
  • Setter must determine best play to run and whom to set to score 
  • Offensive side scores point with a kill 
  • Defense with a block or dig 
  • Score to either 15, 20 or 25 based on team