March 2, 2011

Club Volleyball Training Questions


I am a high school and club coach in Oklahoma. I am working with a girl in my club who will be a freshman in my high school program next year (she's either 13 or 14). She is an elite level basketball player, from a lower income family and she's just figuring out volleyball. She is a first year club player.

That being said she's an exceptional athlete and while she looks super awkward on the volleyball court, in just a month or two she has already started to figure it out. However, I have a few problems.

1. I can't get her to swing high (I read a recent post you made on this problem, and I'm going to implement your suggestions). She jumps really high already, high enough that she hits the ball down, even though she hits it by her ear, she just doesn't have any power behind it.

2. Any suggestions on drills or concepts for how to get her familiar with the speed of the game? I get a lot of players who lack familiarity with the game (i.e. have only played low level rotational or no volleyball when they get to 9th grade) and I have a hard time getting them to understand the speed they need to play with. They seem to have the mentality "I'm just too slow and I can't get there" in everything from serve receive to defense to hitting. Other than saying, "yes you can" I'm at a loss.

3. She is currently playing with our 16s team as a 14 (we're a very small and very local club and didn't get enough 14s for a team) and she is more physically mature than most of the older girls on the team. However she lacks confidence. I think that she will realize that she's perfectly capable of playing up. Is this traumatizing her forever, or a good motivational move on my part, any thoughts.?

Thanks, K.B.

Your player is so young and so raw, that her learning curve will be very steep. The best thing you can do is focus on the correct skill sets, try to remove any bad habits (like the low contact point) and keep positive. It is tough to play up, especially as a newer player.

1. On her swing, follow my previous post on the topic and have her play a lot of pepper while you watch. It is easier to improve towards changing the arm swing during pepper than by front row attacks.

2. For catching up to the speed of Volleyball, break the game down into it's group/position components and provide lots of reps, while trying to increase tempo - faster sets, faster passes, tougher serves. For instance, outside hitters pass and release to attack with the tempo being fast. Middle attackers load and attack, and reload and transition attack. By you pushing tempo, after breaking out specific components of Volleyball competition, it will allow for a bit of help. Finally, players just have to fake it until they make it. Late arriving players will always be slow until they adjust their rpms. It is the same with college players; those which played on low level club teams always need more time to get up to speed versus those who were on elite level programs. And even those elite level freshman RARELY come in at the same tempo as the returners; it takes time to transition to the next level of competition.

I now tell my incoming freshman to focus more on conditioning and less on lifting. This is an effort to help them transition better to the increased speed of the college game. Too often incoming college players get too focused on being strong and they let their cardio slip. You have to be in shape to move fast for extended periods of training and competition.

3. Initial confidence is just bravado, but real confidence is earned. As she gets more comfortable with her skills, as she sees more individual success, and as she adjusts to the speed of playing up, her confidence will rise. You really have no choice, as there is no 14's team for her to play with; just keep up the positives and remind her she is playing with/against players two years older. It is the same thing I tell my freshman when they struggle; their upperclassmen team mates have been grinding out college volleyball et al for two years, so you really can't compare yourself to them this early.

Good luck and thanks for being a reader.

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