A reader asked the following question. It relates to motivation of a beginning player, which is different from motivating players to win. I share a few of my own thoughts below, but would love to hear what others think.

How do I get a shy quiet girl moving. I had a guest coach over teaching and one of my girls walks up to her spike. The coach made her do it again but she went a tiny bit faster. I put this child on my team as per a request of her mom that says she is a couch potato. I try to teach her everything I know but still no happiness in this child or a smile or hustle, nothing. Help, how can I make her a player?

This sounds like a very challenging situation. If the mother is forcing the girl to attend, there’s a major motivation hurdle to overcome. It’s even more so if she is not naturally a physically active kid. You have to get her to be eager to be active and to want to improve her skills. It’s not an impossible task, but it’s a hard one for sure.

Motivations vs. confidence

The first thing you need to try to figure out is if this is a case of “don’t wan’t to” or “can’t”. The former is about just not being interested. The latter is about thinking you’re not good enough or talented enough or whatever to be able to do what is asked. Be aware that sometimes “don’t want to” masks “can’t” as the individual puts up a protective front.

If it’s a question of “can’t”, then your job as coach is to find out where the perceived issue is. Then you start to build confidence. That could be a question of showing the player someone like her who is successful. It could be about breaking things down a bit more so you can focus on elements where the player has a comfort. Then work back up from there.

If the problem is “don’t want to”, then you have a different challenge.

For most beginners, the key factor to keep them coming back and interested in getting better – at least to a point – is fun and enjoyment. When it comes to those of the female gender, the social element is a big one. If this girl isn’t socially connected with the others in the group, try to find ways to encourage that. If she does have a connection, maybe you can use that to help you motivate her a bit more.

Another way to go is to try to find out the girl’s interests. There might be stuff you can do to link what you’re trying to teach her in volleyball with other things she does or likes. That also might give you the opportunity to do some role-modelling with her. Pointing out someone she can watch with whom she has things in common.

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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.

    1 Response to "Volleyball coach seeks help with motivating a beginner"

    • sjkvolleyball@gmail.

      John thank you so much for writing back. You have giving me a lot of helpful hints.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.