One of the questions that comes up all the time in coaching is how to handle non-volleyball infractions. That’s things like:
- Being late for an event (meeting, practice, etc.)
- Not getting paperwork in on time
- Forgetting something
- Off-court behavioral issues
In other words, they are issues of an individual nature that aren’t about what happens in practice or matches.
I think we all generally agree that there should be consequences for failure to fulfill one’s obligation as a member of the team, a student-athlete, etc. The issue is how you do that without punishing the team. Also without putting one negative on top of another.
Now, some things have automatic consequences. You don’t get your medical paperwork in, you don’t get cleared to participate, so you can’t practice. What I want to talk about here is the stuff that doesn’t have those kind of built-in repercussions.
The traditional response coaches have had is to use physical punishment (e.g. sprints) and/or removal from volleyball activities (e.g. sitting the bench). Physical punishment is a highly suspect choice, though. In what other realm does one have to run a set of line touches for not doing what you’re supposed to do? And benching someone, or sitting them out of practice, can be a punishment for everyone else.
The solution I developed a while back was to look at things in terms of making it up to the program. In other words, putting back in what you take out, and then some. Looking at it from a school team perspective, this is the approach.
- If the impact of the infraction is entirely within the team itself (e.g. late for a meeting), the player has to do something for the team to make it up. That could be pumping up the balls, setting up the court, or doing some kind of admin work. Basically, it’s any kind of thing that program has in need of doing.
- If the impact is within the Athletic Department the player does something to make it up in that context. Let’s say they violated Training Room rules. In that case, maybe the Trainer has them do an inventory.
- If the impact is beyond Athletics, get the Dean of Students, principal, or someone of that level to come up with a kind of school service project.
Essentially, think of it as like the community service punishments people get from a judge. Same idea.
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