Tonight I had the second of three practices with a small group of kids. I originally set this up because there was no way I'd expect 17 year olds to miss half of their school's boys basketball season on four straight Friday nights. But gym time is what it is, and I didn't want to waste it.
Two weeks ago I had the two middles and my setter, then today I had my three primary swing hitters. Next week I've got the libero and the three multi-purpose players.
In tonight's case, my goal was to fix some of the mechanical problems in their hitting, as well as their passing. The first few minutes are always awkward because I need to feel out exactly what it is I want them to fix or change. But once I get passed that, it really is a lot of fun. The benefit for the kids is that they get very specialized instruction you can't possibly offer with the entire team there. The benefit for me is that I build a stronger rapport with the kids.
This kind of interaction is so ridiculously effective. My kids this year are so talented that they respond very quickly to the instruction too, which makes me wonder why they don't get this kind of attention in school, where they have a lot more time (compared to our twice a week practice). Tonight we had some real positive change, and I think I understand better what kind of criticism they respond best to.
Friday night practices aren't that convenient for me either, but I'm really happy about the outcome these have brought. I hope the last one next week is just as successful.