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So How's You Season Going?

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Seems as if the volleyball forum has "slowed down" a little, and I thought that discussing how your last or current volleyball season is going might get our interest back. What's working for you and your team, or what isn't? How did you pick your team, and what might you do differently now? (stuff like that:)

I am 3 tournaments through a 6 tournament JO season with a u14 girls team and its been a fairly bumpy road so far. We entered as a Bronze team, got bumped up to Silver before the first tournament, and have gotten spanked twice, prior to being returned to Bronze last week and playing about to our potential. My girls continue to improve, and also are having fun, so it can't be all bad. Also, they are perhaps one of the best ref'ing teams in our age group and region.

We play a 4-2, but are working on a 5-1 in practice. On defense we play a center-up defense, and receive in either a W or 4 player formation. Our weakness, like most in our division, is serve receive. However, we have one exceptional setter, and for a team that averages 5' 4", we have good jumping hitters.

So.... what are you doing with your team?????

lets hear from you


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Since you asked....

After serving as junior varsity coach for high school boys for 13 years, I took over a high school girls program last year. The program was truly at rock bottom. I had seniors that had never been instructed on performing a correct spike approach :o . I got through that season OK and thought this past season would be a breakthrough season. I realized half-way through the season that I still had a lot of work to do before we would be competitive. We finished 1-14 in dual matches and 4-21 at three tournaments. So I have put my shoulder to the wheel.

I started a USAV club with my players. Initially I wanted to do a 17-under and 15-under team but didn't get enough response from my younger players and have only a 17-under team, made up of most of next season's projected varsity. I have a former player coaching the team (he coaches at a local DIII college and his team won their first conference championship this past season) and I am his assistant. That is to address my immediate needs. We have been practicing Sunday afternoons and one evening per week (if we can get gym time at the school). We went to our first tournament last Saturday and finished 4-4, so he must be doing something right!

Our school does not have a junior high program but I have entered two junior high teams in a local league that began in January and ends at the beginning of March. I had no assistant to help, so I coached both teams myself (the teams played in different age brackets, so the league director scheduled their matches at different times so I could coach both teams). I was lucky if I could get one evening per week to coach them in between matches. Both teams finished last in their divisions and lost in the first round of playoffs - but it was good experience for them. I will run an intramural junior high program two afternoons per week during March. I am pushing my Athletic Director to add junior high volleyball as a school sport. He said we may be able to do it next year.

I figured I need to get a starter program for elementary school kids also, in case we have a junior high team next year. I have run two clinics at the end of last year at one elementary school and three more at another elementary school in February. I have five more scheduled for March (two at each school and one at the junior high for another elementary school that won't allow me any gym time). I hope to be able to get enough players for two or three teams to enter a 5th-6th grade volleyball league in April. I also hope I can get some parents to coach the teams.

Two Thursdays ago I left work at 3:00PM, went to an elementary school for a clinic from 3:30 to 5:00, had practice for my 17-under team from 6:00 to 7:00 (practice continued for them until 8:00), and then coached both of my junior high teams - one at 7:30 and one at 8:30. On Wednesday night my wife kissed me as we went to bed and said "Well, I guess I'll see you Friday morning"! I am working on getting more people to help me but I realize it will take some time. But I am encouraged that people are seeing how much time I am investing and have had a few offers to help when they are available.

This forum has been a great resource for me in working with elementary and junior high kids. I have gotten many tips for working with the young kids.

Intramurals will last only through March, our club season will be over at the end of April, and the elementary league should end at the beginning of May. I hope to be able to take a few weeks to myself before open gyms, a local summer league for high school players, and summer camps start. Then it's on to season #3!


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Well, I DID ask.......

I think I will copy your comments and post them in a conspicuous spot in my office so the next time I feel a little put-upon, I can read it and feel better. It is also a good read to remind myself - and everyone else - what it takes to make volleyball "happen" in your heighborhood. Lots of folks think it's pretty simple to get a program going, especially at a high school that has had volleyball for some time. But most of us know that you don't get a chance to coach a team thats on top of the game.

For folks that have never tried it, or who may be thinking about trying it, your comments are pretty close to an outline of all the things involved in growing the sport. Surprisingly, the major article in this month's AVCA's "Coaching Volleyball" is: Starting A Club: The Story Behind the Creation of Nitro. But I have to say that reading that article didn't wear me out nearly as much as reading yours did!

Getting any kind of elementary and middle school volleyball going will certainly help not only your high school team, but will build interest in volleyball throughout your area, and I think you will find that it can also provide you with a pool of parents from which you may be able to develope practice assistants or even future coaches who can help expand your lower school programs AND you jo teams. There aren't any better coaches for your program than ones you've trained yourself:)

I suddenly have to attend to other things (which means the wife's calling, and if I want to continue with her and volleyball for another 40 years, I'd better go!) but I would certainly like to continue this discussion. Hope others jump in, as I think this could become even more interesting - and enlightening.

Pace yourself, Ken.


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Well, an update from last year....

After all of the work during the spring (and more during the summer) our high school season started off slow with a 1-5 start in dual matches and poor showings in our first two tournaments (4-11). I thought I was running an endless uphill marathon.

But before the season began, I had decided to enter our team in a tournament that traditionally invites many weak teams. It came at the right time. We finished pool play with a 6-2 record, went to the playoffs for the first time in my three seasons and won our first playoff match. We lost in the semifinals to a strong host team but battled them all the way. My players finally tasted success!

We went .500 the rest of the season to finish 6-10 and had another good showing at our last tournament (including winning another playoff match). We even won on Senior Night! Our A.D. allowed us to enter our district playoffs for the first time in about seven years. I hope we are on our way.

Last spring I was able to get enough elementary school players (5th & 6th graders) to put two teams in a county recreation commission league. One team was mostly 5th graders and one was mostly 6th. I was able to get parents to coach the teams but I helped out as much as I could. The 6th graders made it all the way to the championship match where they lost in three games! The rec. commission has leagues in the spring and fall so we entered another team in the fall cycle (made up of mostly 6th graders who played in the spring cycle as 5th graders), again with parents coaching. They made it to the finals and won the championship in three games! They're chomping at the bit to play this spring.

My Athletic Director persuaded the school board to add volleyball as a junior high sport this spring and we will be starting practice in four weeks. We have a very competent woman coaching the team and I will assist her as much as I can. Right now we have three teams participating in a junior high rec. league. One of the teams consists of all seventh-graders, most from the team that finished in second place in last spring's elementary league. They won eight of their first nine games before running into a couple of pretty strong teams that moved them to 8-7. I'm really looking forward to our upcoming inaugural junior high season!

The program is starting to take shape and I am getting competent, capable people to help with the development. I am cautiously optimistic that all of my work from last season (and into this season) is moving our program forward. It probably will still be a couple more years until we will be a solid, year-in and year-out high school team but I feel alot more confident than at this time last year.

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I'll put your last email up next to the first just to make me feel better. It's really great to hear that all your hard work is showing results.

There is really nothing like the taste of success - no matter how small - to get players to want to learn more and play smarter and harder. I think lots of coaches fail to keep their players "in the game" by drilling them into the ground, trying to make them do things that they either can't physically do, or worse, don't understand how to do. Giving them more touches is obviously the thing to do, but they must be touches that they at least understand the how and why. Sounds like you must be providing all of that.

Since finding people to help with a volleyball program can be awfully hard, especially in an area where volleyball isn't already a "serious" sport, I would be interested in hearing how you went about finding them, and even more interested in how successful you've been in getting them to coach "your way". Who knows, we might even get someone else to comment too.

Thanks for the comments. I'm sure that there are other folks out there who are interested. Maybe their just afraid to add their thoughts or experiences.

My season, on the other hand........ actually is going well for it being something of a down time. From January to the end of school in June, I have a Saturday Volleyball Club that meets every other Saturday. We usually have 10 to 18 players, 5th through 9th, with the occassional 4th grader. We play and practice for three hours, it's free, and after the parents realized it wasn't Saturday daycare, we've had alot of fun with it . Every now and then I get one of the assistant coaches from one of the three Unversitys in the area to come and give a 3 hour clinic - for about $30 ea. - and when we're lucky, they bring one or more of their players along. The boys who come seem to like it, but the girls LOVE IT! If you are ever looking for something to add a little kick to your program, if you can do it, thats probably my best suggestion. Letting younger girls see "the big kids" play is almost more motivation than the girls (or you) can handle. Of course we have Junior Olympics volleyball going too, and I have U14 and U15 teams playing. Really good volleyball and they will be killer when High School ball starts this fall. I am also putting the final touches on a one week volleyball camp for the summer. I expect to have two sessions of 18 players each, one beginner - 4 to 6 grades, and one advanced, 7 to 9th graders. One of the real pleasures of having coached here for 8 years is being able to have high school players come back and help with camp. And they love getting paid to play volleyball:)

So that's it for me for now.

Let (US) know how it goes. And I'd really be interested in hearing about how you've organized and managed your coaches.

Keep up the good work!


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