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New To Coaching 4th Graders


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#1 sps4vb

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 01:10 PM

I'm rather new to coaching 4th grade girls volleyball. I've read most of the topics here and I'm still searching for some information. I've noticed that I have difficulty with getting my girls enthused and motivated about the sport. Don't get me wrong, I have quit a few of them that are but I have some that aren't. I've tried everything possible to get them excited. (drills, games, working as a team, talking to them, encouraging them, etc...) I also have some that really don't have the strength to hit the ball over the net and have really run out of idea's on how to strengthen their arms to get the ball over the net. Another issue I have with one girl is that she can't seem to stop tossing the ball up in the air while serving underhand. I've tried to teach her overhand but she doesn't seem to get the concept. All my girls serve underhand and we have our first game Sat. Sept. 10th. Any help would be greatly appreciate.

Despirate on getting serves over the net. I have 10 girls on my team and only 4 can get it over the net.
Thanks,
Holly-Marie :unsure:


#2 RonSalazar

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 04:36 PM

Hi Holly. Try having the girl who is throwing up the ball in the air before the serve practice without the ball for awhile. This will allow her to "see" her "shelf hand" before she strikes the ball. This should help to visualize why she needs to keep her "shelf hand" steady and might cure her problem. As far a not having the strength to get the ball over on a serve, there isn't much you can do about that. At one point I had a team of eight year olds. None of them were strong enough to serve over the net. Now they are all ten and the problem is solved. I guess what I'm saying is it isn't the girls fault, the problem lies with the location of your serve line;i.e., it needs to be moved up. Ron

#3 fmfjohn

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 08:01 PM

sps4vb'

Ron is certainly right in saying that sometimes there isn't anything that you can do about strength but wait for the girls to develope some on their own. You could get them into the weight room :) but that might take awhile. ( like after their 16 or so :)

I do think that continued work on serving techinque may convert a few of you players to the "over the net" gang. Solid contact can add enough extra length and height to get the ball over without any additional strength. You might even try having them actually hit the ball out of their hands until they start making solid contact and straight serves. Obviously, they can't serve that way in a game, but it might give them confidence that they CAN hit it, which can be converted into more effort and concentration to serve correctly.

My only other thought is, are you using a "Volley lite" type ball? If not, they are the regulation ball for 12 and under for USVA - and most other associations.

Good luck! Let us know what works for you.

john

#4 RonSalazar

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 03:22 PM

Another thought Holly. This time about getting the kids excited about volleyball and improving serving. Try using serving games instead of doing serving drills. My kids love "dead fish" and "centipede." No joke, they actually beg to play these games. If you look at some of the posts from the past you will see descriptions of lots of great games that make practice fun. As an example, instead of making the kids run...let them play tag. I've got kids that can't run because of allergies and asthma that can play tag all practice long. Just a thought. Ron

#5 kenoshasquid

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 05:55 PM

If your first game is coming up, you be pleasantly surprised to find that the other teams probably have the same problem. I would recommend that your league istitute a shorter service distance for any girls younger than 6th grade.
Our 5th graders get a five foot distance break on their serves. And of course
the net should be lowered as well for kids this age, under 7' The number one thing for any girl of any age learning to serve whether it is over hand or under hand is that they need to learn to use their whole body to get their weight through and to HIT IT HARD!

#6 fmfjohn

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 07:12 PM

Having spent my coaching career until very recently with 12's or older, Squid's comment reminded me of just how "in the box" my thinking usually is. Which leads me to... who says that 4th graders have to play on a court 30x60, with a net 7'4"+? Wouldn't 20x40 and a 6'6" (?) net be more appropriate?
I guess my point is, if you are trying to teach the game, and even more importantly get kids to "play", then why not give them a situation in which they can learn the fundamentals and PLAY? I think a conversation with the coaches of the other teams you play would, as squid also points out, reveal the same problems and probably an easy agreement to set more appropriate dimentions for the court.

Thanks for the wake-up squid!

john

#7 kenoshasquid

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 05:11 PM

John

I am happy that I was able to help you "out of the box", and honored by your comments as (and you probably don't remember this) in 2003 you sent me some rather lengthy emails answering some questions that I had
at the time and your advice proved very helpful...so much so that we have lost two matches since that time and were undefeated last season. So "thanks" back to you!

SQUID

#8 sps4vb

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 01:47 PM

Thanks everyone for your comments! I've read the previous e-mails posted on this site about the games such as, dead fish and centipede. I've been playing those games lately with the girls and they seem to be more excited. We've practiced really hard prior to our first game last Saturday, Sept. 10th and I now have all but one girl able to get it over the net. Thanks!

I had one girl that couldn't stop throwing the ball up in the air, however she has been practicing at home and is able to keep it in her hand, but she keeps lifting her leg up in the air ;) and leaning forward too much. She is still not able to get it over the net. We've had her try practicing without a ball and against the wall, with little luck of breaking this habit. We'll keep working!

As for the information on the court and net playing area; this will be one of the things that I'll mention at our next athletic board meeting and see if there is anything that can be done to get the CYO Athletics Department to change the court area and net height requirements for the 4th graders. I really appreciate all of your feedback.

By the way, on Saturday's game we finished, 1st game 19 (us) to 21 (them), 2nd game 21 (us) to 9 (them) and 3rd game 10 (us) to 15 (them). Although we didn't win the match, I was definitely pleased on how the played. The one girl that couldn't get it over the net and finally started to at the last practice before our first game was my star :) server that day.

Holly-Marie

#9 kenoshasquid

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 05:22 PM

Holly-Marie,

Good for you! It's always fun watching them make progress. Two years
ago I was in your shoes struggling to teach them to get underhand serves over. Now, just two years later, all but two of my girls are getting it over overhand and doing other wonderful things like setting and attack hitting now and then. We had a team vote and I asked them to decide their fate:
Do things they are comfortable with in games and win more, or take some chances and work on and try new things in games and make mistakes as a result but maybe win less. They voted to focus on learning and trying new things rather than just worrying about winning. I explained this to the parents. It's the girl's team, not mine and not the parents'. SO now we can have fun and learn without the expectation and pressure to win every time out, although that will always be a goal regardless of what we are trying.
But fun and learning are still #1 priority at this level.

Tonight it's ice cream bars after practice for the winning 3-girl team in a game we play at the end of practice called "Queens of the Court".

With positive reinforcement, fun and games, and organized practices it's amazing how much they learn in the process!

Keep up the good work!

Tim

#10 RonSalazar

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Posted 23 September 2005 - 06:37 AM

Hey Tim. Nice post. I'm really big on trying to get the girls to really put themselves out there, make mistakes and grow as players. I think having them make a conscious decision as a team to do that is a great idea. Nice going coach. By the way, give us a description of how to play "queens of the court."

#11 sps4vb

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 07:57 AM

Tim,

Thanks for the feed back... Just to keep you updated. I've done a similar thing by letting my girls lead the stretching and drills during the practices, because as you stated, it's their team. We've even invited the parents to play against the girls this coming week. I'll let you know how that goes. The girls are all excited to be able to play their parents. My girls also decided that winning is nice but they want to learn how to play and be able to take chances on things and maybe not win.

Things have been going really well. We played in a tournament the past couple of weeks and we finished 3rd place out of 8 teams. I'm very proud of them. We had several volley's in all the matches we played over the weekend and that was an accomplishment in it's self.

Please let me know how to play this "Queens of the Court" sounds like fun. I've played a few other games like "Dead Fish" and "Centipede" with the girls and they just love it (they beg to play those games) and it get's them motivated and relaxed. Also, I've utilized Ron's suggestion a bit with not making them run laps around the court, when they make a mistake, but have the ones that made the mistake shed the balls and then the others want to as well just because it's fun. We usually play these on our Friday evening practice since we have Saturday games. Helps get them going.

Keep up the good work with your girls. Sounds like both the girls and parents have a lot of respect for you.

Thanks again!
Holly-Marie

#12 fmfjohn

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 07:22 PM

sps,

I've been away from this forum since the end of my school season - and probably your's too - so this may be either too late or something to file away until next year. Anyway, I noticed no one had replied to your question about Queen of the Court, so I thought I'd give you a couple of variations.

full court, 3 v 3. Put 3 players on one side at the endline with a ball. They will serve.

Place another 3 players on the opposite side. They receive. (your first Queens)

Divide the rest of your players up into groups of three's. They wait behind
the endline on the server's side. (if you end up with an odd number, just have the next
group that comes fill in the missing spots. That allows for everyone to play with each other.

Server serves and the rally plays to it's conclusion. If the serving team wins, they move
to the other side of the court and become the new Queens. If they lose, they go to the
end of the serving line.

Only the receiving team can score points (if you want to keep score) and until the girls get
pretty good, a game to 5 or 8 is probably enough.

half or 1/3 court, 3 v 3 or 2 v 2. Same as above, but lots more touches of the ball. If you choose 2 v 2, you can play three groups on each section of court. Also, with two half court games, you can have each court play to, say five, then have the winners on each court play each other.

I am a big believer in "cooperative" drills (or games) which require that the players try to keep the ball in play as long as they can. When we play "co-op". each team starts with a certain number of points (again, 5 or so) and they lose points when they drop the ball or hit it somewhere that the other side can't get to it. Here the teams drop out when they lose their points, until only one team is left.

I should warn you that your players will get to the point where they want to play QoC all the time.

Well, it makes perfect sense to me... but if it doesn't to you, let me know.

Hope you are now coaching a USAV Junior Olympics team!

John

#13 sps4vb

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 02:46 PM

sps,

I've been away from this forum since the end of my school season - and probably your's too - so this may be either too late or something to file away until next year. Anyway, I noticed no one had replied to your question about Queen of the Court, so I thought I'd give you a couple of variations.

full court, 3 v 3. Put 3 players on one side at the endline with a ball. They will serve.

Place another 3 players on the opposite side. They receive. (your first Queens)

Divide the rest of your players up into groups of three's. They wait behind
the endline on the server's side. (if you end up with an odd number, just have the next
group that comes fill in the missing spots. That allows for everyone to play with each other.

Server serves and the rally plays to it's conclusion. If the serving team wins, they move
to the other side of the court and become the new Queens. If they lose, they go to the
end of the serving line.

Only the receiving team can score points (if you want to keep score) and until the girls get
pretty good, a game to 5 or 8 is probably enough.

half or 1/3 court, 3 v 3 or 2 v 2. Same as above, but lots more touches of the ball. If you choose 2 v 2, you can play three groups on each section of court. Also, with two half court games, you can have each court play to, say five, then have the winners on each court play each other.

I am a big believer in "cooperative" drills (or games) which require that the players try to keep the ball in play as long as they can. When we play "co-op". each team starts with a certain number of points (again, 5 or so) and they lose points when they drop the ball or hit it somewhere that the other side can't get to it. Here the teams drop out when they lose their points, until only one team is left.

I should warn you that your players will get to the point where they want to play QoC all the time.

Well, it makes perfect sense to me... but if it doesn't to you, let me know.

Hope you are now coaching a USAV Junior Olympics team!

John