Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Volleyball: A Fun and Engaging Sport for Kids

I am currently in Bonaire, a beautiful Caribbean island, working towards promoting the sport of volleyball among kids. While watching the young athletes train in a small indoor gym with three nets, it got me thinking about the ways we introduce kids to the sport and how it can be improved. The truth is, many children have walked away from volleyball because their initial experiences were not exciting enough. As a passionate advocate for the sport, I believe it is crucial that we make the introduction to volleyball more engaging and enjoyable.

Enhancing the Learning Experience

Rebounding Instead of Catching and Throwing

Instead of focusing on catching and throwing, which can limit the learning process, we should encourage kids to rebound the ball off their own bodies. For younger children, using balloons or beach balls can be a great way to start. Additionally, using smaller balls on smaller courts can minimize the risk of injuries. By practicing and gradually improving their slap technique, kids can transition from using their palms to using ball-shaped hands and achieving full extension.

Breaking Free from Standing in Lines

Learning volleyball shouldn’t be about standing in boring lines. Instead, we should encourage group learning with smaller numbers, ideally 1-3 athletes per group. If necessary, we can allocate more resources towards buying additional balls rather than more nets. To create multiple training courts, we can run a net, ribbon, or rope lengthwise on each adult court. This approach allows athletes to develop both their reading abilities and technique, facilitating a smooth transition to larger courts.

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Moving Away from Six on Six

The traditional six vs. six format can feel monotonous to beginners, as serving tends to dominate the game and reception becomes a struggle. To ensure more active participation and faster skill development, we should consider playing 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4 matches. These formats provide more opportunities for involvement, increased ball touches, and a better learning experience.

Emphasizing Key Skills

Introducing Jumping and Hitting Techniques

On the first day, it’s important to introduce jumping and hitting techniques, along with the concept of torque (open the door, slam the door). By emphasizing a consistent contact point using a smooth fist, athletes can quickly gain control over their own sets and start sending the ball over the net. This skill is also something they can practice independently outside of regular training sessions.

Unleashing the Superhero within

In shorter training sessions, it’s best to focus on teaching the jump torque serve. If time permits, we can also introduce a basic serve and then demonstrate the importance of “ball-shaped hands” and extending like a superhero before moving on to the torque jump or standing smash/spike. It’s effective to demonstrate the spike ourselves, preferably with another skilled athlete setting a low ball. This way, athletes can witness the technique firsthand. We can even bring up the fact that they are practicing a set used in the Olympics, creating an additional source of motivation.

Delaying the Forearm Pass

To avoid causing discomfort or pain for beginners, it’s advisable to delay introducing the forearm pass until after they have practiced serving, setting, and spiking. This is especially crucial if we are using adult-level volleyballs, as they can be challenging for inexperienced players. We want to create an environment where kids can enjoy the sport without any unnecessary physical discomfort.

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Making Volleyball an Exciting Journey

With all the nets set up, it’s important to let the athletes form groups of two or three and allow them to play. As they progress in their skills, mixing up the teams during subsequent practices can provide a fresh and dynamic learning experience. This way, athletes can get accustomed to keeping score and embracing the competitive side of the game. If a gym is not available, playing outside on grass, sand, or even a tennis court can be a suitable alternative. By utilizing ropes and sidewalk chalk, we can transform one concrete basketball court into a 10-court volleyball learning center.

For more resources and information, check out MiniVolleyball for Youth book available on usavolleyball.org. The book is available in English, Spanish, and Italian and offers detailed explanations on various aspects of the sport.

Lastly, for a glimpse of the excitement and thrill that volleyball offers for people of all ages and genders, YouTube provides a plethora of amazing volleyball highlights. Showing these clips, like “amazing volleyball highlights” or “Lions Cup 1990 Volleyball,” during practice sessions can inspire and motivate young athletes.

FAQs

Q: How can I make volleyball more enjoyable for kids?
A: By incorporating interactive and engaging activities, focusing on essential skills like jumping and hitting, and utilizing smaller team formats, volleyball can become a fun and exciting sport for kids.

Q: Are there any resources available to further enhance my understanding of volleyball training for kids?
A: Absolutely! You can find valuable resources, including the MiniVolleyball for Youth book, on usavolleyball.org. This book provides detailed guidance and explanations in English, Spanish, and Italian.

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Q: How can I create a volleyball learning center with limited resources?
A: With some creativity, you can transform a concrete basketball court into a multi-court volleyball learning center using ropes and sidewalk chalk. This allows kids to experience the game in a dynamic and enjoyable environment.

Conclusion

Volleyball has the potential to captivate the hearts and minds of young athletes. By focusing on making the sport more engaging, introducing key skills in a structured manner, and providing ample opportunities for active participation, we can ignite a passion for volleyball that lasts a lifetime. Let’s work together to ensure that every child’s introduction to volleyball is a memorable and exciting experience. For more information about Alpinetgheep and the amazing world of volleyball, visit Alpinetgheep.