Your team is tied at 22. It's the fifth game of the state championship and you badly want to beat your cross-town rivals.

Everything looks good, except one of your players goes down with an ankle sprain. You take a long look down your bench rookies, all of them. Things could be lost unless you have taken the time to make sure that your greenhorns have learned the basics.

Training your players to contribute as quickly as possible is the key to making sure that your team isn't caught in a compromising position. Get them on the court in practice as often as possible and put them through the same paces as you do your starters. Where to start? Place an emphasis on learning the fundamentals.

The skills should be presented to the athlete in a sequence that best gives them the opportunity to contribute as quickly as possible in game situations. What's the first skill they should learn? Passing, of course.

A player needs to know how to start a play before anything else. They could end up being on the wrong side of the opposing team's best power and they best know how to get into the ready position and dig the cannon coming their way.

Now you need to teach the rookies how to dish out what they are receiving big hits. If you can shape their attack skills quickly, you could have an extra weapon when one of your starters goes down. Make sure they learn to approach the net properly, and they will start hammering the ball to the floor in no time.

Since most of your setters will be identified during the learning process, this should probably be the last skill you focus on with learning players. While each player should know and be proficient in this skill, there are only one or two setters on the court at any one time, and probably no more than two setters on an entire team.

Coaches get all your players into game shape as soon as possible. Not just the regulars, but the rookies, too!

You're going to need them at some point during the season, so teaching them to dig the ball from their knees, make the picture perfect set and then slam the ball to the floor is going to make your team a champion!

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