Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Embracing the Joy of Volleyball: A Guide to Fostering a Love for the Game



As we watch seasoned volleyball players in their 80s exude sheer joy for the sport at the U.S. Open, it begs the question: why do so many young players lose their passion? While teaching the game to kids, I’ve witnessed a concerning dropout rate after high school and college. The term “burnout” is often thrown around, but it’s essential to recognize that with proper guidance, players can maintain their love for the game. Let’s explore how we, as coaches and parents, can create an environment that encourages continuous learning and growth.

The Importance of Balancing Technique and Enjoyment

Technique is undoubtedly important in volleyball, but not at the expense of crushing the players’ desire to participate. Our goal should be to help them improve while relishing the process. Rather than bombarding young players with drill after drill and excessive technical demands, consider a more holistic approach. Show them the core techniques, allow them to practice, and check for understanding. Instead of micro-managing every move, let them discover the game’s nuances and find joy in getting better.

Volleyball Players

Encouraging Reading the Game

At a young age, players often find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. To ease their learning curve, adjust the playing conditions. Have them play doubles on smaller courts, limiting the reading demands. By doing so, they can gradually develop their ability to read the game effectively. Gauge their understanding by observing if they can demonstrate core techniques without the ball. Remember, learning to apply these techniques within an imperfect game is key.

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Breaking Free from Robotic Training

In recent years, there has been a trend towards robotic-style training in various sports, including volleyball. While these meticulously choreographed drills may seem effective, they fail to nurture true game understanding. Let’s focus on developing players who can think for themselves and make decisions on the court. Instead of solely pointing out mistakes, let’s empower them to become autonomous athletes who can unleash their potential while working cohesively with their teammates.

Embracing the Unpredictability

Volleyball is a dynamic sport full of split-second decisions and unpredictable moments. It’s unrealistic to expect players to adhere to a “perfect golf swing” equivalent in volleyball. Our game demands versatility—a blend of passing with arms, setting with fingers, blocking with arms and hands, serving with a palm, and digging with the entire body. Let’s shift our focus from technique alone and prioritize keeping the ball off the floor. After all, it’s the ability to improvise and react to the game’s realities that sets exceptional players apart.

Learning Through Play

There is a valuable lesson we can learn from the Amish volleyball players. In their simple approach, they eschew extensive coaching and training drills, instead immersing themselves in the game. They anchor the net to buggies and just play. It’s remarkable to witness the creativity and adaptability they develop through their love of the game. While drills have their place, it’s crucial not to rely heavily on them. True learning happens when players are given the freedom to explore and discover the intricacies of the game through actual play.

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Cultivating Unique Players

As coaches, our role is not to create robots, but to guide each player in their individual journey. We should encourage them to discover when and where to make decisions on the court, promoting a deep understanding of their unique strengths and weaknesses. By utilizing technology like video delay options, we can facilitate a collaborative learning environment. When the player’s self-assessment aligns with ours, it’s a moment to celebrate. And when discrepancies arise, replay analysis becomes a powerful tool to bridge the gap between perception and reality.

Embracing the Chaos of Volleyball

Volleyball is a beautiful chaos of random variations and ever-changing scenarios. It’s what makes our sport exhilarating and keeps players coming back year after year. From serve receive to every other volleyball skill, we must equip our players to handle the infinite time and place variations they’ll encounter. Let’s cultivate a love for the game that transcends controlled perfectionism, allowing players to revel in the ever-evolving challenges that volleyball presents.


  1. How can I prevent my child from experiencing burnout in volleyball?
    To prevent burnout, it’s important to strike a balance between training and enjoyment. Encourage your child to take breaks when needed and participate in other activities to maintain a well-rounded lifestyle. Foster a positive and supportive environment where your child’s love for the game can flourish.

  2. What is the best way to develop a player’s volleyball skills?
    Developing skills in volleyball is a combination of technique and experience. While technique is crucial, it’s equally important to provide opportunities for players to apply those techniques in game-like situations. Emphasize the importance of reading the game, decision-making, and adapting to the unpredictable nature of volleyball.

  3. How can I help my child become a well-rounded volleyball player?
    Encourage your child to explore all facets of the game. In addition to mastering core techniques, they should develop skills in passing, setting, blocking, serving, and digging. Help them understand the importance of teamwork and communication on the court. Provide opportunities for them to participate in different positions and encourage them to embrace the challenges of each role.

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Volleyball is more than just a game—it’s a lifelong passion. By fostering a love for the sport and prioritizing enjoyment, we can create an environment where players thrive. Let’s move away from robot-like training and embrace the unique qualities that make each player special. Together, let’s celebrate the chaos, unpredictability, and endless possibilities that volleyball offers. For more information about Alpinetgheep and how we approach volleyball, visit our website.