Thursday, 23 May 2024

Stats for Players and Parents

As a parent and coach, I came across a Discover magazine article that completely transformed my perspective on randomness and its impact on our lives. It helped me become a better parent and coach, understanding the importance of teaching statistics to our kids instead of focusing solely on calculus. I recommend watching a short TEDTalk clip that delves into this topic – it’s only four minutes long, but it’s truly enlightening.

The Power of Stats

Let me share a personal story. My son, who is not only a dedicated volleyball player but also excels academically, used to get frustrated with classmates who didn’t match his level of intelligence. To address this, we had a heart-to-heart conversation about statistics. I explained to him that the population at large consists of individuals with varying levels of intelligence, and when you consider the average, half of them will be at or below that level. In a country like the USA with a population of 300 million, that’s a significant number of people who may make mistakes or poor decisions compared to him. I emphasized that being above average doesn’t mean looking down on others, but rather understanding that errors and challenges are part of life, and focusing on what you can control is the best approach.

The Volleyball Connection

Interestingly, the same principle applies to the world of volleyball. Every gym across the globe, including the one where I teach my Team Colorado 14ers twice a week, is filled with players of diverse skill levels. On any given roster, there will be players who are above average and those who are below. The key is for each individual to raise their own average skill level through deliberate and intense training. This continuous improvement will increase their chances of starting over those who do not put in the same effort.

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The Illusion of Randomness

When watching our children play volleyball, whether in tournaments or practice, we as parents can often be deceived by randomness. This phenomenon is similar to the “Puppy Dog Syndrome.” We see our children play every point, every practice, yet fail to perceive their growth, just like when people with a puppy don’t notice its gradual growth. It often takes an outsider’s perspective to truly appreciate the progress. It’s crucial for parents to understand this and remember the statistics related to average intelligence.

Embracing the Ups and Downs

Each player has their own skill average, and throughout each practice and tournament, they will perform both above and below that average. This is the nature of the game – it’s random and chaotic. It’s important for parents and players not to panic or feel disappointed when performance dips below average. Instead, we should embrace it as an opportunity for growth and learning. Yelling at our children to work harder won’t necessarily yield better results if they are already giving their best. We must adopt a long-term perspective and prioritize mastery over outcomes.

The Role of Practice

Practice plays a vital role in developing skills and preparing for competition. It’s where players experience challenges and adversity that they would encounter in a real game. Coaches and players should create an environment where players can problem-solve and adapt to different situations. This includes changing positions, encouraging well-rounded skillsets, and exposing players to the chaos and changes that occur during matches. Volleyball is a fast-paced game that requires strategic thinking and the ability to respond to unexpected events. By training in these conditions, players become comfortable with the chaos and develop the necessary skills to handle any situation without solely relying on the coach’s guidance.

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The Perspective of Losing

It’s important to remember that in the world of volleyball, just like in any other competitive sport, half the teams are losers. Losing a match doesn’t mean you’re a loser. This misconception can lead to a miserable experience for both players and parents. Instead, we should shift our focus to long-term development and mastery of the game. Support your child’s effort and hustle, even when they are performing below their average. As a coach, I constantly remind my teams that our priority is not winning or losing but being unmatched in terms of hustle. Even though our hustle levels will be below average at times, our goal is to raise the average to a level that surpasses other teams, even when they are performing well.

The Role of Referees

Referees are human too and, like players, they have their own average level of judgment. They will make mistakes, albeit unintentionally. It’s essential to acknowledge this fact and understand that referees, like players, are continuously working to improve their standard deviation and raise their personal average level of making judgments. It takes practice and experience to become a skilled referee.

Embrace the Journey

In conclusion, skill performance in volleyball, just like any other sport, fluctuates. Players will experience both moments of success and frustrating failures. This is all part of the learning process. The goal of practice is to raise each player’s personal average performance, even if in tournaments, they may perform below their average half the time. These fluctuations are normal, and it’s important for parents to offer consistent support and prioritize long-term development. Remember, it’s not about comparing yourself to others but becoming the best you can be. Enjoy the ride and embrace the challenges and victories that lie ahead.

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Can statistics help in raising my child’s volleyball skills?

Yes, statistics play a crucial role in understanding the dynamics of skill development in volleyball. By analyzing average performance, parents and coaches can help players focus on improving their own skills rather than comparing themselves to others. It encourages a growth mindset and a long-term view of mastery.

How can parents support their children during periods of below-average performance?

Parents should offer consistent support, encouragement, and understanding when their child’s performance is below average. Instead of becoming frustrated or disappointed, they should emphasize the importance of learning and growing through challenges. It’s essential to maintain a long-term perspective and prioritize skill development over immediate results.


This article explores the impact of statistics on the journey of players and parents in the world of volleyball. It emphasizes the need to understand the role of randomness and averages in skill development. By embracing the ups and downs, focusing on long-term growth, and supporting children’s efforts, parents can help their children navigate the challenges and enjoy the game to its fullest potential. Remember, it’s not just about winning or losing but about becoming the best version of ourselves.

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