May 5, 2014

Long Term Focus

At my first DI head coaching position, I used to bring in a Guest Coach for each home match.  For one match, a noted doctor from the community was that Guest Coach.  I had met Dr. Gus (his last name was too long to say quickly, so he just went by Dr. Gus) after my daughter was born.  Dr. Gus is brilliant and when I first met him, he was using a wheelchair to get around the hospital.  This is not a common thing, as you can imagine.  What also grabbed my attention, is that he used his legs (his heels) to propel the chair, in addition to his arms, and when he needed to interact with a patient/family, he would stand up but he struggled to keep his balance at times.

With each Guest Coach, I would ask that they address the team in our prematch meeting.  I had Guest Coaches say nothing, or quote the Bible, or gush with school pride.  When Dr. Gus spoke, he brought forward a topic that I found to be very interesting; Long Term Focus.

Dr. Gus spoke at length about having a Long Term Focus.  He illustrated this focus by his own challenges.  He made mention of his wheelchair, and said he has been using the wheelchair for over a year as part of his rehab; he was hit by a car while bicycling.  There was no quick fix for his injuries; he has had to focus everyday on rehab and improving his body, so he can accomplish his goal of physically returning to the condition he was before the injury.

He spoke about the difference between short term focus and Long Term Focus.  Short term focus was easy; have a good match, make the play, get a good grade on a test.  Everyone needs short term focus, and just about anyone can focus for a short amount of time.  Long Term Focus is demanding, it is difficult, and the returns take months or years to realize.

Dr. Gus admonished our players to never forget their Long Term Focus, while they accomplished the easy short term focus.  Keeping that Long Term Focus would enable them to achieve great things as a team, a player and most importantly, as a person.  It was a powerful talk which resonated with the team.

As readers who follow me on Twitter or the Facebook page know, I recently ruptured my Achilles tendon.  Other than being angry at the fact that I am no longer in my late 20's, my surgery/rehabilitation reminded me of Dr. Gus's admonishment; never forget Long Term Focus.  My initial mental reaction to my injury was that I could 'beat it' quickly by focusing on the problem; that is how most athletes (and former athletes) overcome injuries - Sprained ankle?  Rehab hard for a couple weeks and you can play.  Tendonitis?  Ice and rehab will get you back in the game.  Jam a finger?  Tape it up and suck it up.  

But, an Achilles recovery is not a few week process; it is many months before walking in a gym shoe - It is worse than an ACL in terms of time needed to just get functional.  And to make matters worse, it was my right Achilles tendon....

Dr. Gus reminded me about where I need to get my mind to overcome this challenge and return to my pre-injury physicality; he also captured what I have been admonishing my reader's to do - Keep their Long Term Focus.

Think about all of the email questions and answers I have posted; the question tends to inquire about a short term focus and I tend to include a Long Term Focus reminder somewhere in my answer.

Volley PSA Families must keep their Long Term Focus when it comes to College Volleyball recruiting.  It is a Long Term Focus to achieve the best possible collegiate situation for their PSA.  For the majority of PSA's, it is not a short term focus situation; it is about staying disciplined, staying positive, staying balanced and understanding that if you keep your Long Term Focus, while it is harder now, it will be rewarded later.

*  Working hard in every practice, every week, every month and every season - Your collegiate skill level ability is created by this continuous effort, not solely by your volleyball gifts getting more mature.

*  Consistently managing the recruiting process.  It is not a one week situation, it is not a one month situation; it is a continuous effort to constantly be reaching out, to evaluate potential programs and staffs, to recover when a desired collegiate program says no.

*  Understanding that club volleyball is also something to be managed.  Making sure you take a critical view of your club situation; being critical is not a bad thing, it is a smart thing.  Making a change if the club is not serving your best interests; families pay for club, they have the right to ask for accommodations and should feel no hesitation to switch club programs if they are not satisfied.  

*  Parents, and to a much lesser degree players, not riding the emotional roller coaster of the club or high school season.  There are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days.  Enjoy the good days because they should be good, but don't dwell on the bad days because that only leads to more bad days. Stay Long Term Focused on the PSA's goals, and manage the big picture of the recruiting process instead of each match/tournament being feast or famine.

*  Keeping this Long Term Focus when your PSA commits to a school and/or starts collegiate volleyball.  There are just too many uncertainties in today's collegiate volleyball world, especially in the Division I ranks.  Unfortunately, committing and/or going off to school does not end the Long Term Focus.  Families must stay diligent because that cool coach may turn out to be crazy, that 15 year head coach may burn out and quit, the school may join a different conference which results in family not being able to watch all the matches or your SA may find she wants a major that her school does not have!  

PSA's and Families, don't lost your Long Term Focus - It is difficult, it can wear you down, success is just a distant point, but to get to that spot on the horizon, you cannot waiver.


  1. AnonymousMay 05, 2014

    Great post that can be applied to many life situations! Long-term focus is something my Senior daughter has had to rely on over the last 4 years. She has spent many hours at camps and gyms working on her game in the midst of getting cut from the high school team her sophomore and junior year and finally earning a spot on varsity her senior year. We had many years of tears at the club level trying to make it on the competitive teams only to realize those competitve teams don't have a clue what being a team is all about. Finally, her senior year has made all those bad days seem so long ago now that she has committed to playing for an awesome and very successful D3 program where she will be a contributor and the coach practices everything it means to be a team.

    Best wishes for a good rehab and back to a functioning foot/leg!

  2. AnonymousMay 05, 2014

    Important post! Volleyball is a long journey of ups and downs if you make to the college level. Try not to get mired down in the negative and keep moving forward towards your goal. Enjoy the relationships you make with the "volleyball people". Our family has loved being part of this, sometimes crazy, world.

  3. AnonymousMay 08, 2014

    So sorry to hear of your injury!! It is indeed a long recovery.

    This post is on-point for much of life. Sometimes I get disheartened at the whole volleyball process. I had to stop attending club practices because of the politics that seems to permeate throughout, not just club, but high school too, and likely college as well.

    We are getting closer to having make a decision: go to dream school that while a D1 she will likely not be considered a volleyball candidate or try to find lesser fit, a campus that she enjoys, academics that are a fit, and more than a 75% chance she can be considered recruting potential.

    Looking at the volleyball profiles of many girls (cause I do live and breathe volleyball while sitting at a computer all day!), I realize many have the financial means to pay for elite club memberships, create web pages, go anywhere for summer camp opportunities, private practices, hanging out at the beach, fly to visit college campuses out of state....not all of us can do that and so we have to come back to the Long Term Focus....obtaining a good solid college education that is a good fit for the SA. Just might have pay out of pocket or thru financial aid packages, work while attending school, or that elusive volleyball scholarship. Cause ultimately what we all want for our daughter is to be a good citizen, educated, and be able to support herself.

    Wishing you the best on your recovery. Maybe it's time to take up a foreign language!


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