Last night at practice, I did something I probably should have done prior to our first two tournaments: Give them control.
The last two years, I had a team that really embraced the swing offense. They improvised and made stuff up, and called plays on the fly. That's what's supposed to happen. I guess I never explicity told this group that they could do that! I had to watch the tapes to realize, "Gee, after the first volley, they're just kind of standing around to see what happens."
So we did two things. First we went through every rotation (it's generally pretty set), and explored the possibilities. All of them. Now my setter feels a lot more comfortable in seeing, "Wow, I can run a red-3 or blue-4 here, cool!"
The second thing we did is just put them out there and started tossing balls to the setter and let them call what they want. What surprised me was that they were calling for the harder stuff that they weren't used to. The outside hitters were asking for shoots or 1's. What surprised me even more is that some of the hitters didn't even need to call out a play, they just started moving and my setter keyed in on them. That's fun.
The thing I've learned about this group is that I underestimate what they can do in terms of skills, but overestimate what they can do mentally. As a coach, I'm starting to realize that as much as you can grow in terms of knowledge, you still have to learn about each group, and its individuals, year after year. There are no universal patterns, there are always variations. I need to learn how to start recognizing that early on.