Wisconsin Head Coach Kelly Sheffield once authored a plea to Juniors volleyball coaches. He asked that they actively encourage their players to spend time watching college volleyball matches. I think there are three major benefits to do this, or more generally of getting lower level players watching higher level ones.
There’s no denying that kids develop idols. They look to replicate things they see done by those they view as being “great”. We want our players to have something to aspire to as they develop. It doesn’t have to be a specific role model. It can just as easily be a way of playing or the execution of a certain type of skill. Reaching a certain level of competition (high school varsity, NCAA Division I, professional club 1st team, national squad, etc.) is another one. Either way, it gives them an extra motivation to get better.
Along with giving players something to aim for, there is much they can learn by watching higher level play. Chances are, this will require more coach involvement that is the case in terms of aspirational elements. Lower level players may not have the understanding (yet) of what they are seeing. They will need you as their coach to explain it to them. This gives you the opportunity to reinforce the things you’re working on with them.
The third benefit of getting players out watching higher level volleyball is that it can help turn them into regular spectators of the sport. Volleyball is a big participation sport around the world. It is still, however, very much a fringe type of sport when it comes to viewership and attendance. At least broadly speaking. The more we create educated, passionate fans out of our players, the more we can grown the sport.
By the way, it’s highly recommended that coaches watch a lot of volleyball too.
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