There was a player in the Midwestern State squad when I first visited campus in early February 2016 who could not hit a down ball or a back row attack to save her life. I mean she literally did not have the skill.
I found out later the cause of this problem. Her high school coach never let her hit.
I will grant you that she was pretty tiny. It must have been obvious from early on that hitting and blocking weren’t going to be her thing. Genetics put her clearly into the libero/defensive specialist category.
I get that a coach probably isn’t going to have her spend much time in hitting drills and the like. But to not have her even learn how to do a good down ball? Come on! That’s criminal in my book. It’s specialization gone crazy.
First of all, even tiny little defenders sometimes need to use that skill. Heck, sometimes they can even attack the ball outright from the back row – even if they’re libero at the time. So there’s a very clear volleyball reason to teach every player to hit from either standing or jumping.
More importantly, part of what we must do as coaches is instill a love of the game in our players. That’s a whole lot easier to do when you actually let them play!
And this applies to players in other positions as well. Let your setters block. Include your middles in defensive training. Give your pin hitters the opportunity to set. You never know when being able to whip a non-specificity skill out will make the difference between winning and losing.
Being more well-rounded makes players better. It gives them a deeper appreciation of the game and all it entails. It also makes it more fun for them, and that means they may stick with the sport longer.
So please let them just be players instead of positions sometimes.
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