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Teaching the basics of volleyball

By Sally Kus

A philosophy I have always stuck with is to develop the basics ’til they’re basic, starting with the grassroots level and then developing players through their senior year. A team cannot progress without good serving, pinpoint passing, and great setting. Developing the basics takes work and repetition. It also takes a coach who can instill respect for basics and develop drills to promote skill maintenance in a competitive and fun manner. Basics are the building blocks that are required to apply creative offenses and defenses. Acquiring and maintaining good basic skills allow players the freedom to learn new systems and tactically apply them in game situations.

On the other hand, I am also a firm believer in teaching over players’ heads. Teaching something that players are supposedly not ready for challenges them to reach for a higher level and shows them the coach has faith in them. A coach who says, “They’re not ready for this,” or “They’re just girls,” limits his team’s potential. Having faith in each player becomes great motivation for the whole team.

At our camp, we try to satisfy five goals:

  1. We teach the basics ’til they’re basic. This goal makes the players’ high school coach happy.
  2. We try to achieve each player’s personal objectives. At the beginning of camp, we ask each player what her three immediate goals are. These goals usually include becoming better skilled at her primary position, such as setting or hitting.
  3. We try to have fun and stay competitive.
  4. We try to give them tough workouts. Players feel like they have accomplished more if they are pooped. This produces a sense of accomplishment!
  5. Lastly, we teach them something over their heads. Then each player can go home and brag that she learned something incredible. We also challenge them to continue to work on this higher level of skill.

The following experiences can all help raise a player’s skill level and knowledge of the game during the off-season: attending camps, playing club ball, playing in competitive off-season leagues, attending open gym, participating in player clinics, playing in state all-star games, playing in beach competitions, and playing in grass tournaments. A high school coach should recommend and then route his players into positive off-season experiences to enhance their development. A high school coach should also include himself in as many of these experiences as possible. These situations will help the coach network with other coaches and players, acquire new learning experiences, and show his players how much he is interested in them and in their improvement.

Providing special experiences for players also gives my athletes what some other programs don’t offer. A special tournament out of town is always fun. Offering such an experience to any player enhances the playerÐcoach rapport and encourages lifelong learning. Attending a camp with the entire team provides a key off-season experience and promotes a family type of bonding that demonstrates caring between a team and the coach.

This is an excerpt from Coaching Volleyball Successfully.

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