We watched you this weekend at the Fiesta Classic over the MLK holiday weekend; the panic, the unrest in your eyes, red from no sleep and worry.
Coach, it’s volleyball. Calm down.
Sure, you didn’t win the tournament this weekend. In fact, you didn’t win much at all. You are questioning everything you have done for the last two months and wondering why your athletes don’t listen, don’t care, don’t try.
Coach, they do listen when you give them something concise and relevant to listen to. They do care when you give them a reason to care. They do try when you make their effort a point of pride for them.
It’s January 20th. Regionals aren’t until May 3rd. Calm down Coach.
They are looking to you for answers, for leadership. Panic and anger and disappointment isn’t leadership. Blaming parents and officials and teen drama won’t help your team, it will only divide them.
Coach, ask this question. What can I do in practice tonight that will help make my team better and help my team succeed on the court for my next tournament?
The game is serve and serve receive. That’s a great place to start. Does that mean the team should serve for 2 hours? Probably not but ask yourself this:
- When you practice serving, is there athletes on the other side of the net working on serve receive?
- Are your drills starting with serves or are you tossing a ball in?
- Does your team need opportunities practicing hitting out of the back row?
- Do you give them those reps in practice or are you stealing contacts from them?
Reps = opportunities for coaching feedback = learning skills better and faster.
Coach, do you have a coaching philosophy that helps guide you through tough tournaments and the inevitable highs and lows but guaranteed tough times that are ahead when you are dealing with teenage athletes?
Are your practices fun? Do your practices flow or are they choppy because you are stopping drills constantly to address one error or talk to one player while the rest of the team is standing around? Are they laden with drills and little to no play? Would YOU like your practices if you were a player?
Coach, how much value do you place on the work and effort your players put in? Some players will put in more than others. Are you calling out those that are working hardest, even if they aren’t your best players? What do you, as a coach, value from your players? Is this what you praise and give positive feedback for during practices and matches?
Coach, it’s January 20th. Calm down. You have lots of time to right a ship you perceive to be broken but maybe they just had a bad weekend. Maybe they were just intimidated as it was their first big tournament. Maybe it was their first tournament of the season.
Maybe you do need to tweak your practices a bit, making them more efficient and giving your players more touches and more feedback.
It’s not the Titanic as much as you might have thought it was this weekend. It’s volleyball, a game. It’s not life or death but it IS admirable you care so much about doing a good job and how much you care about your athletes. Thank you Coach.
But please, calm down.