"Great coaching is communicating through posture, language, chalk talks and intimate conversations, the ultimate belief that good things are going to happen." ~ Terry Pettit


Coaching Resources

The difficulty facing all youth sports organizations in all sports is to produce consistent, year-over-year skill development in their athletes. What every organization should be aiming to do is to provide a solid, continuous skills development path so that the coaches of the 18U teams are handed athletes that have all the required skills to compete. The 'Skills Progression' sheet provides an outline of when it is necessary and appropriate to teach certain skills to our kids. Once an athlete has developed the wrong 'muscle memory' for a skill, it becomes increasingly difficult to change this physical habit. If we do not insist that our athletes become proficient at these basic skills early in their volleyball life, we put them at a competitive disadvantage later on when winning becomes more important.

There is also a '13U-14U Skills' sheet that outlines the basic skills we need to teach our athletes in the first few years of development. Finally there is a 'Systems Summary' sheet that provides a plan for a solid progression through the age groups so our athletes are taught a consistent, internationally proven set of volleyball skills and strategies. 

You will also find a couple of sheets outlining the basics of the forearm pass (bump) and the overhead pass (hand pass) so that we can begin to teach a consistent approach to these important skills.

More sheets will be added throughout the season. If you have any questions whatsoever or you would like to discuss the relative merits of different techniques than the ones outlined in these sheets, please feel free to contact Michael Hawke.

The Purpose of Competition

The origins of the word 'compete' are interesting. In Latin, it means to 'strive together'. Since both teams cannot 'win' together, the competitors must be 'striving together' towards a different goal. That goal is excellence. We have all witnessed teams 'playing down' to the level of their competition and the same is true in the other direction. Teams will also 'play up' to the level of a stronger competitor. We need to teach our children to not only respect their opponents but also to appreciate that strong competitors play a key role in their own progress towards becoming a confident and compassionate adult. That's the real reason we shake hands after a match ~ to thank our competitors for helping us become better by "striving together' towards excellence.

In the 14U and 15U age groups, tournament play needs to be looked at as simply a guide to what skills we need to practice more. Many look at competition as the sole reason for playing volleyball but that perspective has been found to be detrimental to the skill development of young athletes. Everyone agrees that it's more 'fun' to win than to lose but it is the responsibility of all the adults who surround a young athlete to shift the emphasis from 'we must win' to 'we must develop'. As a single member of a single team, our athletes cannot control most of the factors that determine whether their team ultimately 'wins' on the scoreboard. 

  • They don't control their own height, the height of their teammates or the height of their opponents - in case anyone hadn't noticed, volleyball outcomes favour taller athletes.
  • They don't control the size of the 'selection pool'. Quite frankly, clubs in larger centres have so many kids try out that they can choose only the tall, prototypical volleyball player and then train them to use their height to their advantage. It's almost impossible to defend the court when there isn't an effective block and so if our opponents are hitting over our blocks then life becomes very difficult for us.
  • Most importantly, they don't control the skills or the work ethic that their team-mates bring to the team. That is mostly the luck of the draw.

I'm sure we've all seen certain groups of kids that move through elementary school and high school and their teams win most of the time. The individual members of those teams were lucky enough to have been born in a cluster with other strong and dedicated athletes and their continued success fuels their confidence to win again and again.

How Do We Get There

The only thing each kid can control is how much work they put in to improve their own skills. If enough of the kids on a team work hard enough to serve better, pass better, set better and attack better then collectively they increase their odds of winning. That's all we can ask of them. It's been shown that for motivation, 'you get what you praise'. If we want skill development, we need to keep a watchful eye out for improvements in skill and praise it whenever it happens. None of us can control outcomes, we can only control inputs.

Praising a 'win' will not create more wins. Wins are the result of doing all the small things better than your opponent. 'Wanting it' more also does not produce a win just as 'wanting' a cake to turn out fine does not automatically produce a fine cake. What produces a fine cake is measuring the ingredients accurately, cracking the eggs properly, mixing the ingredients in the right order and baking it at the correct temperature. Doing all the little things properly will produce a fine cake. In sports, forgetting about the scoreboard and just concentrating on doing all the individual skills to the best of your ability is the only sure way to create wins. This is true of everything in life but why do we forget this when it comes to youth sports? We must insist on building a sports culture within our club that emphasizes risk taking on the court and praises continuous improvement because ultimately, when all is said and done, all we are really trying to do is build better adults with the capacity and the desire to take on challenges and continuously improve at whatever they choose to do in life.

Training Resources