This is an entry in my volleyball coaching log.

After a ball-handling warm-up which feature rotating partner pepper, I had the team go straight into game play to work on things in preparation for our match on Wednesday. Carrying on from the mental tentativeness that’s been a problem, I focused on two things.

First, I told the players that any time they made an individual error they would have to say “I’ll do better next time.” I’ve used this individually with players who were overly hard on themselves to short-circuit their negative self-talk., but this is the first time I made it a team-wide thing.

Second, I had the play a game where they could only score “real” points. By that I mean they only earned points on aces, kills, or blocks. The idea was to get the focus on being proactive about scoring.

The two moves definitely had an impact on the play. The hitters in particular became more aggressive and there were more hard-hit balls. Perhaps more significantly, forcing the players to say “I’ll to better next time” after errors actually brought smiles to their faces when they said it. At least in the short-term, that is a great outcome as it clearly breaks the negativity right away.

Now to see if it can carry over into the match Wednesday. I will definitely be pushing for it to happen.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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