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How to be a Better Volleyball Player
Photo of Brian Halligan

As a coach for a volleyball team, hopefully you'll never be set in your ways. Granted, there are some things that you don't want to change, but there are other aspects that need to be re-evaluated and changed from year to year. In some cases you, as a coach, may have to be as fluid as the game is, and sometimes as unyielding as a netted serve. So use these tips to make you a better coach, and by keeping an open mind you'll always be a success.

Never Be Hurtful

Think about this. There is a line here between being professional and being personal, and it's a line that you never want to cross. Certainly you can be demanding of your players, and all players at any age level expect that. But being hurtful in comments or actions is being demeaning, and it is the fastest way to destroy a persons confidence both on and off the court.

Think of volleyball as a business. When you instruct players, when you are trying to motivate players or even discipline players, make sure everything you say pertains to their performance on the court. Once they are off the court, nothing you have said to them should impact their personal lives in any way. What happens on the court stays on the court, and that's the true measure of a teacher and a coach.

Anticipation Over Technique

Every coach worth their weight in salt will teach technique. Serving, passing, hitting, setting and blocking are the Big 5 in volleyball, but what is more important is anticipation. You can do all of those other things right, but if you don't know where the ball is going to end up, none of them do you any good.

Although anticipation is difficult to instill in youth players, because in many cases they are just happy to get the ball over the net, the concept of anticipation must still must be brought up and put into their head.

With older players, anticipation becomes that much more important. You can have your players move towards the ball as soon as it is hit instead of waiting until after it crosses over the net. Sure, that takes time and sharp eye, but the best players in the world got that way because they are able to anticipate where the ball is going to end up. And that's what makes anticipation so important.

Errors can Be OK

In volleyball, a lot of errors are committed because that's the nature of a fast paced ball game. That may sound strange but in this one example, it is always better to set too high than too low. Get it? Realistically, you always try to teach your players to set the ball at the perfect height for the hitter, but in a game situation, it's always better to set too high than too low.

In that same frame of mind, it is always better to serve the ball too high than to put it into the net, and it is always better to miss a block than to make a block and hit the net.

Errors in volleyball are like the lesser of two evils. If there is slight error that does not cause the play to go dead, your team can adapt, so always let those types of errors go.

It's In The Game

No matter how much you practice any discipline in volleyball, try to make it seem as if it is being done during a game.

Game conditions and practice conditions are completely different, and since you are never practicing during a game, you should always try to mimic game conditions during practice. Obviously beginners have got to learn the techniques first and foremost, but once comfortable they need to practice like they are playing.

For example, when setting and hitting, make sure there is a blocker on the other side of the net. When serving, make sure there are players on the other side of the net to hit it back. If you incorporate game play into your practice, it's more like real game time and that's exactly what you want.

Praise, Praise, Praise

In all ages of volleyball, the best way to get players to give their all is through praise. Granted, there are going to be some times when praise is not warranted, and we've all been there. But in most cases a player is trying their best on each and every ball, and that alone warrants praise.

Praise is the great motivator, it will make someone feel good even if they messed up, but best of all, they will keep coming back and trying their hardest because praise makes volleyball fun, and ultimately, that what it's all about.

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