Coaches are the key to a great sports season. Our family has been traveling with sports teams for many years and when you have a great Coach, the team can be amazing! The players can work out their differences, they can talk about troubles they are having, and they are able to move past hurdles. When the Coach is not so stellar, there is back-biting, players get down on themselves and each other, and they don’t progress as a team. Sometimes the type of Coach you get is the luck of the draw, and sometimes you get to choose who the coach will be! We have been part of a club team that was sponsored by a junior college and the coaches were the college level players. The only coaching experience they have had was as players. They had not been in the coaching position before. And then there are coaches that are school staff members and were helping with teams that were associated with the school, and were not coaches. And, of-course, we have had some stellar coaches! The difference is astounding!
What makes a coach so great? How do you find a great coach? What do you need to look for, or what should you ask the coach? Admittedly, a fair portion of a good coach is the personality, but there is so much more to consider. This club volleyball season, we are blessed with one of the most amazing coaches! She has agreed to let me interview her to share some of her coaches wisdom and thoughts on how to keep a team moving in the right direction!
Coaching teenage girls is HARD! How do you keep them focused on learning the skills of the game?
- I believe at this age the skills of volleyball must be in place in order for them to be a competitive athlete. That can be hard when dealing with 15 year olds who just want to play instead of breaking down their passing, setting, hitting, etc. My goal is to instill a growth mindset within these athletes. As a player, you can always develop your skills and understand that there will always be a skill you can perfect.
- Another piece I find significant for coaching girls at this age is to keep volleyball fun and engaging. There are multiple ways to keep athletes engaged in a sport whether it be games and activities during practice, watching film of games or of other athletes and providing a safe environment for them to play with each other where they are able to take risks without repercussions from their coaches or teammates.
I see the girls get down on themselves a lot during games. How do you refocus them and get their spirits and attitudes back up?
- In order to compete in volleyball you must be mentally tough. Players who struggle with overcoming obstacles usually become frustrated with the sport in a short amount of time and end up quitting. Overcoming obstacles is a life skill. In order to instill mental toughness, girls must understand that you are going to make mistakes and they are almost expected at this age. The best way to refocus them is to help them understand that the sport is not easy and you will not be perfect every single time.
How do you prevent the “My Bad” comments or the person who wants to take blame for a mistake?
- I find that some girls on the team take fault in almost every error. I usually sit down with these girls and diagnosis every aspect of a volley point. I show them that by them taking guilt for a specific issue isn’t necessarily pinned on them. Girls should understand that they are going to make a mistake and that they have a choice to either correct it or let it continue. When a girl continuously says ‘my bad’, my first attempt is for her to stop it. That much negativity can really bring a player down.
On the flip side, how do you keep them from focusing on the mistakes that other players have made?
- Nothing will break a team down faster than placing blame on a loss to a specific person. Teammates have to trust and respect each other. As a team player you must have empathy for each other on the court as well. Just as in life, we have bad days where somethings just don’t go our way. That is the same on the court. If teammates start putting down each other the climate and culture will self-destruct and you will no longer have a team. With volleyball being a team sport girls should understand that there will be mistakes made by you and your teammates. However, if a team-mate is struggling then you need to boost their self-esteem and help them understand that you support them.
How do you make a team a TEAM?
- There is so much that goes into making a team a real team.
- Before beginning a season a team must have a sense of an end goal in mind. For this particular group of girls our goal is to be competing for the #1 seed in each power that we compete in. Our goal is to be better than the last power. Individually, athletes must also have small goals that they are striving for. This in all, turns into a working unit of girls striving for their bests.
- When working with high school girls, trust and respect is a huge component within the making and maintaining of a team. Each athlete has a specific role when on the court, if teammates doubt their ability to fulfill their role, issues will arise.
What is your favorite part of coaching?
- I love the challenge that volleyball brings to not only a player but also the coach. Volleyball is very unpredictable and it’s fun to watch an athlete react to every play. I’ve also enjoyed continuously learning about the skills and plays within volleyball.
Coaching is so critical to the game, and having a coach that can keep the girls focused on the game and not being so critical of each other or themselves makes the whole season so much more enjoyable for everyone! I hope you can have a coach as amazing as ours!
Check out other volleyball tips such as how to make travel with the team great, how to feed them, and what snacks to make! Are you a crafty volleyball lover? Check this post out with free Cricut svg files!