Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Volleyball and Fly Fishing

I recently acquired a new Orvis Helios 3wt, a remarkable fishing rod made from the same carbon fiber used in Apache helicopters. Weighing a mere 1.75 ounces, this rod is incredibly light yet impressively sturdy, perfect for casting in the afternoon winds along my favorite streams. It’s fascinating how technology has advanced, but in the end, it still comes down to the ball and you defying gravity.

When you step out onto a stream in the midst of nature, you experience the true essence of the world around you. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of catching trout, nature’s not-so-bright creatures, in various locations such as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, China, Russia, and throughout the USA. Of course, it’s important to practice catch and release, unless the hosts deserve a delicious trout meal.

In the realm of sports, we tirelessly work to bring the science and technology behind the game to the forefront. Through programs like CAP, IMPACT, and High Performance clinics, we strive to educate and train athletes. However, we often find ourselves up against outdated coaching methodologies, rigid progressions, and more. Fortunately, there are valuable lessons we can learn from other sports.

Decades ago, a favorite article of mine titled “Parents, Kids & Fly Rods” by Dave Engerbretson was published in Fly Fishing magazine. The author shared some invaluable rules for teaching youth, emphasizing that it’s essential not to push a child into an activity before they genuinely develop an interest. Instead, we should let their curiosity grow organically by exposing them to the sport through our own actions and excitement.

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Engerbretson also highlighted the importance of ensuring children have successful experiences when they embark on their first fishing trip. Whether it’s taking them to an easy stream or letting them catch stocked fish, guaranteeing their success generates excitement and fosters a lasting interest in the activity.

Interestingly, I sent this very article to Dr. Carl McGown, an influential figure in the world of volleyball who has contributed significantly to USA Volleyball’s success. His clinics and books, such as “Coaching Volleyball,” have become a gold standard in the field. In his book, “The Science of Coaching Volleyball,” McGown referred to and paraphrased Engerbretson’s article to apply its principles to the world of volleyball.

McGown emphasized that children learn best through imitation and practical experience rather than lengthy technical explanations. Instructors often make the mistake of talking too much, overshadowing the importance of demonstrating the desired actions. He advised focusing on one component at a time, allowing beginners to concentrate on specific aspects of the game before moving on to others.

It’s fascinating how a simple article about fly fishing can provide valuable insights and guidance across different sports, including volleyball. It reinforces the idea that the principles of teaching and learning are universal, transcending specific activities.

To showcase how fishing and sports intertwine, I’ve included some pictures at the end. These images depict my dad at the age of 6, me at 4, myself during a retreat in Sedona, Arizona, together with my son Cody, and a snapshot of Wiz Bachman McCutcheon before she met Hugh. The last image features the A2 team fly fishing on the Arkansas River, giving them a chance to step outside the gym and immerse themselves in nature.

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When we take our children fishing, we impart not only the skills to catch fish but also our philosophy and attitudes toward nature, conservation, and life itself. Sometimes, we may not even realize the important concepts we are teaching them. Our actions speak louder than words, leaving a lasting impression on their minds.

As we enjoy the summer, whether on the court or in the great outdoors, let’s remember that fishing isn’t just about catching fish or sports being solely about winning. It’s about the experience, the journey, and the lessons we learn along the way. And if we happen to introduce newcomers to the sport, let’s aim to hook them in and ignite their passion.


  • Q: How can I introduce my child to fishing without overwhelming them?

    • A: The key is to not push them into the activity before they show genuine interest. Instead, expose them to fishing by involving them in your own fishing-related activities and letting their curiosity grow naturally.
  • Q: What should I consider when taking my child on their first fishing trip?

    • A: The primary consideration is to ensure that the kids have a successful experience by catching fish. Choose an easy stream or let them catch stocked fish or go bluegill fishing. The excitement generated by catching a fish will create a positive association with the sport.
  • Q: How can I teach volleyball effectively to children?

    • A: Children learn best through imitation and practical experience. Rather than overwhelming them with technical explanations, it’s more effective to show them what to do. Focus on one component at a time, allowing them to master each aspect before moving on to the next.
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Teaching our children extends beyond the skills required for a specific activity – it encompasses values, attitudes, and life lessons. Taking them fishing not only imparts fishing skills but also instills a deep appreciation for nature, conservation, and other important aspects of life. As parents and mentors, we hold the responsibility of shaping the future, not just in terms of the sports we love, but also in preserving nature and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

Have an amazing summer, both on and off the court. Take some time to escape to a beautiful stream or lake and embrace the joy of fishing. Remember, it’s not just about the outcome but about the overall experience and the memories you create.