Fun and not so fun – a volleyball player’s perspective

One year when I coached at Exeter I worked with one of my senior women’s players through some motivational issues. Through the process of talking with her, I asked if she could define what makes volleyball fun for her. After some consideration, she sent me the following list. While some of it definitely is specific to herself, most of the list I think will be common across most competitive players – and not just in volleyball.

What I like about volleyball:

– The combination between physical and smart play
– Ball handling and going for impossible balls which become possible.
– Long rallies and scrambling
– I like learning new stuff, playing a more interesting volleyball. It is boring to stick to basic serve/receive drills, hitting through four, middle, reverse, I want to learn inside balls, playing with the block, see quicks and slides, making the back court hit more of a weapon (but I know that can only come when everything else is great).
– I would like to be a libero in a very good team, where the block is actually blocking and there is more to the role than serve-receive and passing free balls. I am fine with OH2* because it is more of ball handling role, with some offense in it but no massive expectations either, OH1 is fine too, but to be honest, if I am OH1 it is a pretty bad sign for the team and the shape of its offense…
– Winning but most importantly playing good volleyball, or to our full extent.
– Playing with better players than me
– Outplaying a team with our team spirit + smart play is quite enjoyable too
– Intense training in general

What I don’t like:

– Stagnating at the same play of volleyball
– Players not taking responsibility
– Getting stepped on, punched by flying arms because players don’t anticipate me covering their butts
– Quietness
– Twitchiness
– Bad players, I know it sounds volleyball snob
– Slow training
– Lack of effort

I think this list includes quite a few things for us coaches to remember. This is especially true for those of use who have to look back quite a ways to recall our own days as a player! 🙂

By the way, this is a player who was primarily a libero for me my first year, and moved to O2 in the team my second year. At our level of play she was a solid O2 from the perspective of good ball-handling and defense and not prone to many errors in attack, but she’s more properly got the mentality of a libero.

* The O2 or OH2 in a 5-1 offense is the outside hitter who is not next to the setter in the rotation.

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John Forman
About the Author: John Forman
John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women's team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women's professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women's Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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