Monday, 27 May 2024

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

It’s an intense game with the Region Championship on the line. Suzy, the libero for the Hot Tamales, knows the ball is coming her way, and her team is relying on her. Despite her passing not being up to her usual standards, she’s giving it her all.

The ball is served right to Suzy, and she delivers a perfect pass to the setter, setting up the team’s best hitter for a kill. The Hot Tamales win the match and become Region Champions! Amid the chaos and celebration, high fives are given to Sarah for the killer hit and Liz for the great set. However, there are no compliments or recognition for Suzy, even though her perfect pass set the play in motion. Why is it so difficult to give credit where credit is due?

Sue Gonzansky articulates it well in her book, “Volleyball Coach’s Survival Guide”: “The pass starts the offense, without a pass there is no offense. The setter struggles to set up a hittable attack. The goal of the passer is to receive the serve and free ball, and direct it accurately and consistently to the setter. The perfect pass is one that allows the setter to run the offense and utilize all set and attack options. A team that cannot pass accurately will not be able to effectively execute its offense.”

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In the game of volleyball, the passer often goes unnoticed. Everyone only sees the way the ball is killed by the hitter or the skillful hands of the setter. However, coaches can make a significant impact on their players by implementing the compliment sandwich – providing positive feedback, constructive criticism, and another positive. It’s crucial to give passers more positive recognition.

With young athletes dealing with peer pressure and personal issues, many come to practice as an escape. As a coach, it’s essential to be a positive influence and show your players that you care. John Kessel, in a USA Volleyball Coaching Accreditation Program (CAP) course, emphasized the importance of getting to know your players and genuinely caring about their well-being. Even simple gestures like a smile or thumbs up can brighten their day.

Mary Jo Manzanares, a public speaker on leadership, shares some tips for giving compliments, revised specifically for volleyball coaches and players. Coaches can use these suggestions to help their players put them into practice:

  • Extend a compliment about an insecurity: Everyone has insecurities, and addressing them can have a positive impact. For example, if you have a tall player who struggles with blocking due to self-consciousness, praise their improvement in maintaining a solid block.
  • Be specific with your compliment: Point out the specific action or skill that impressed you. It shows that you’re paying attention and adds sincerity to your compliment. For instance, acknowledge their locked elbows and strong hit.
  • Never minimize the other person: Compliments should make the recipient feel great, not be backhanded or sarcastic. Make sure your compliments are genuine and uplifting. For example, commend their jump and hit without any hidden sarcasm.
  • Respect other opinions: Echoing positive statements from others reinforces the original compliment. It shows that multiple people recognize and appreciate the player’s contribution. For instance, both coaches could say, “Suzy, great pass on the winning point!” This can encourage other teammates to give credit to Suzy and make her feel like the hero of the week.
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So why is it challenging for athletes to give credit where credit is due? It may be because players observe their coaches and mimic their behavior. If coaches fail to provide compliments or positive feedback when deserved, it’s unlikely that athletes will prioritize recognition. As coaches, we must set a better example and teach our athletes to respect and appreciate one another by giving and accepting sincere compliments.

Great teamwork is essential in volleyball, and coaches expect their players to understand its importance intuitively. Christine Emmick highlights this, saying, “In no other sport is teamwork as important as in volleyball. If you aren’t careful, you can give credit to an impressive outside hitter when some credit is due to the setter and the entire team. Both your outside hitters need to pay special attention to the great sets they receive and acknowledge the work done by the entire team. Serves, sets, and attacks make the match, not just the spike that drove the point home.”

As coaches, we need to ensure that our players don’t “burn out” on volleyball due to a constant focus on the negative. To secure a bright future for volleyball and encourage our athletes to become lifelong participants and coaches, we must lead by example. Remember to recognize and appreciate the efforts of those who help make things happen. By doing so, we foster leadership and inspire continued participation.

In conclusion, don’t forget to give compliments and recognition to players like Suzy when it’s well-deserved. By doing so, you’ll empower your team and create a positive environment for growth and success in the sport.

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Q1: Why is it important to give credit where credit is due in volleyball?

A1: Giving credit to players who deserve it is crucial in volleyball because it promotes a positive team culture and encourages individual growth. Recognizing a player’s contributions boosts their confidence and motivation, creating a supportive environment that fosters teamwork and collaboration.

Q2: How can coaches provide effective compliments to their players?

A2: Coaches can provide effective compliments by:

  • Addressing specific areas of improvement or skills displayed
  • Avoiding backhanded or sarcastic remarks
  • Echoing positive statements made by others
  • Respecting and valuing other opinions

Q3: What impact can compliments have on athletes?

A3: Compliments can have a profound impact on athletes, boosting their self-esteem, and promoting a positive mindset. They can help athletes develop a sense of pride in their abilities, which can enhance their performance and overall enjoyment of the sport.


In the game of volleyball, it’s crucial to give credit where credit is due. Passers often go unnoticed, overshadowed by the hitter and setter. However, coaches can make a significant impact by implementing the compliment sandwich and providing more positive feedback to passers. Mary Jo Manzanares suggests tips for giving effective compliments, such as addressing insecurities, being specific, and respecting other opinions. By recognizing and appreciating the efforts of players, coaches can foster a positive team environment and encourage growth and success in volleyball.