Tip by Callie Phillips, JWU in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This is a 4-on-4 game that I use to open practice from time to time.
The players are grouped in teams of 4, and each player on a team is assigned a number from 1-4.
The teams then play out a point with a free ball, down ball, or whatever the coach would like to use.
At any time, the coach can blow the whistle and call out a number, signaling that each team will be losing a player.
When that player's number is called, she must vacate the court immediately, leaving her teammates to continue the point.
Sometimes I call a number before the play even starts. Sometimes the point goes longer, and I can take away 2 or even 3 players (that gets fun).
The point of this game is to reinforce communication within a team and to help them anticipate and cover the court when a modification is needed. It can also prompt players to look for open spots in the defense and make plays or help their teammates make plays. It assists teams in covering the second hit if their setter's number is called.
There are lots of things you can focus attention on in this game, and it ends up being pretty funny a lot of the time.
You'll need to clarify how long a player has to get off the court (i.e. her number is called, but a ball set to her is in the air), and you can be as strict as you want with this.
The main goal of this game is to open practice with a fun, yet educational game that helps your team communicate and work together. Enjoy!