Here’s a variation of a question coaches think quite often.

You have a player whose passing form is TERRIBLE, but she passes DIMES 9/10! When you correct her form, she struggles to get the concept, and shanks balls to another court! Do you continue to try fix the form, or allow her to continue to pass dimes?

My first reaction to something like this is to inquire as to what exactly “TERRIBLE” means. And flipping that around, what that coach’s view of good form. Let’s assume for this discussion that we have a similar conception of what kind of technique we’d prefer to see.

The next question is then what level or age group we’re talking about. If this is a player playing at what is likely to be the top level they’ll play – or fairly close to it – I’m probably not touching it. Why would you? They’re successful.

If the player is younger, the question then becomes whether the technique they’re using is limiting in some way. Since the example here is passing, let’s work with that by way of example. Will their technique keep them from passing faster serves or different types of serves as they progress? If not, then again I would leave it alone – and potentially try to figure out why it works so well for them.

The final consideration is injury risk. Is their technique increasing their chances of either instance-based or repetition-based injury. I think we all understand the latter with respect to shoulders, knees, and backs. The former is something like a blocker who bends their wrists forward so their fingers point at the attacker. Good way to get them jammed or broken!

Quick additional word on this topic. Unless you are actually qualified to assess a player’s injury risk – especially with regards to repetition-based risk – be careful. Ugly technique doesn’t necessarily mean risky, and in some cases it might be compensating for specific limitations. Get some qualified help in making the right assessment of what should be done.

I talk in other posts about fixing a goofy-footed hitting approach and a bit on fixing passing mechanics. I speak in more motivational terms about approaching changing a players technique in The mentality of technique change.

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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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