Wednesday, 22 May 2024

A Letter of Appreciation to My 13U Teams

This is a heartfelt thank you to the 13U girls teams I’ve had the privilege of coaching this season. I encourage you to use any part of this letter as your own closing words to your players. We’ve had a truly special season together, and as it comes to an end, I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to witness your growth as athletes, volleyball players, and leaders.

Continuing the Learning Journey

Learning should never cease, and I want to offer some suggestions on how you can make the most of the time between now and the start of your school tryouts. Remember, the national teams value players who excel in all six skills but are particularly exceptional in one or two. It’s not about your height; it’s about your mastery of the game. Take inspiration from Yoshie Takeshita, a three-time Japanese Olympian who stood at just 5’2″ but was incredibly skilled.

Embrace Your Journey

The years ahead of you are a chance to discover and develop your best self. Avoid comparing yourself to others and instead, focus on finding joy in playing volleyball at the next level. With long summer days ahead, here are a few ways you can make the most of your time.

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Take a Break and Have Fun

During this break, take the opportunity to play doubles in tournaments with a partner of your choice. Use this time to apply what you have learned and gain game-like experience. There are regional junior doubles tournaments available, and if you’re up for a challenge, I encourage you to play in higher age brackets. Alternatively, consider playing in women’s and adult coed tournaments in your region. While they may outscore you, you can learn valuable techniques and strategies from more experienced players.

Learning through Watching

Begin with the end in mind and spend time studying the best players in the world. YouTube offers a vast array of highlight videos showcasing exceptional plays, rallies, and player highlights. These videos can provide you with valuable ideas on how to improve your skills.

Exploring Other Sports

This off-season presents an opportunity to cross-train with another sport. Maybe you’ll discover a new sport you enjoy or find that an individual sport suits you better. Engage in outdoor activities like hiking, biking, rollerblading, or running to refresh your mind and keep yourself physically fit.

Engage with Fellow Volleyball Enthusiasts

Invite younger players, such as your siblings, to play 3v3 games and take on the role of coach, mentor, and setter. Teaching others helps solidify your skills and has a positive impact on younger kids who look up to you. Additionally, you can set up a volleyball net in your backyard or a nearby park and invite friends who share your love for the game. Mix up the teams to learn from different teammates and benefit from the variations in wind, sun, and alternate surfaces.

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College Summer Camp Experience

Consider attending a summer camp at a college or in an area where you might be interested in studying in the future. Even if you don’t plan on playing for a varsity collegiate team, volleyball is a lifelong sport. You can participate in club teams or intramural leagues, which are excellent ways to meet new people and stay active.

Become an Official

During the summer, most regions offer training courses for officials, and as a member of USA Volleyball, you can take these courses free of charge. Learning how to be an official opens up opportunities to earn money in college, both on and off-campus.

Cultivate Leadership Skills and a Growth Mindset

I see each of you not just as volleyball players but as future leaders. You have the potential to inspire and be role models for others. Use the internet and your local library to explore the teachings of great leaders throughout history. Learn how to cultivate mental strength, resilience, and humility. If you need book recommendations, don’t hesitate to ask your teacher, parents, or even myself. There is an abundance of wisdom waiting to be discovered. Remember, we are all on a journey of lifelong learning.

Thank you once again for allowing me to share my love for this sport with you. It has been an absolute honor to be by your side on the court.

Coach

P.S. Volleyball truly is a sport for a lifetime. You have the U.S. Open Nationals with an 80 and over division to look forward to. There is ample time for you to become even better.

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