The challenge of motivating your team

posted by Jeff | Sunday, December 12, 2004, 11:47 PM | comments: 0

I like to think that I'm a pretty OK coach in terms of understanding vollebyall, especially in the ways that it continues to evolve with regards to rule changes, advanced offense, etc. However, the one thing that I kind of suck at is getting the kids motivated. I'm still looking for the magic bullet.

Today at my second practice, some of the kids are a little skeptical of the swing offense. Except for the middles, none of them have much experience hitting anything quick, so putting trust in the setter is not easy for them. I think they'll get it, but it'll take a little more time.

I think what I'm facing at the moment is the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), and it's hard to motivate with that looming over your head. They're great kids, and you can already see the spark in their eyes when they really pound a ball. They just want it to be instantly consistent, which of course isn't possible for anyone.

This calls into question the long-standing theory by a lot of coaches that you have to concentrate on the little victories in skill development. The idea goes that, for example, a passer might shank every pass into the bleachers, but that's OK if you got them to move behind the ball on every pass. One part of the skill mastered, consider it a success and get the next part down. Again, the requirement of instant gratification makes that feel less successful.

Perhaps I'm just over-analyzing (did I mention it's only the second practice?), but you know, worrying about these things is what I do. There has to be a clearer reward and more obvious praise for the mini-victories, I think. In the case of teaching this offense, some of them are getting their approaches right, but not connecting in the meaningful way they're used to. Others don't have the approach right, or are worried the setter won't put the ball in their hands, so they never even get the opportunity to hit the ball.

I shot video today, so I think we'll have stuff to work with next practice. I'm not discouraged or disappointed, just trying to work through the challenge. I'm still fairly confident this is going to be an outstanding year.


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