What I've learned from 10+ years of coaching volleyball
I’ve been a volleyball coach for a fairly long time now. I’ve coached every age from 12 year olds up to 18 year olds; once I even coached kindergarten basketball. I don’t claim to be an expert, just someone who cares and has always wanted to make an impact in the lives of young people. I was fortunate to have some amazing coaches and mentors in my adolescent years, and a big part of who I am today is because of those people.
This will be my last year coaching volleyball (at least until my own kids are all grown and out of the house), and with one month left in the season, I’ve been doing some reflecting and thought I would share a few thoughts:
- Not ONE player I’ve coached is now playing professional volleyball (at least to my knowledge. It’s not that I’ve never coached a good team or had great winning seasons, but I’ve never had any of my past players go pro in volleyball. Sure, some have been able to go to college and receive money to play the game, but after that not one has progressed to the next level.
- While none of them are pro players, they are all (from what I can tell) great people who are doing amazing things with their lives. Many of them are now adults and I greatly enjoy seeing their Facebook status updates showing all the wonderful things they are doing in the world (and very rarely do they have anything to do with volleyball). As a coach I’m most proud of the small part I was able to play in their development.
So my point is this… As coaches we are much more than just a person who can regurgitate information on how to pass a volleyball or shoot a basketball. We are influencers. Most of us will never coach a player that goes to the pros. Very few of our players will make it to the college level. But we can make a significant difference in their lives. We can teach them things like commitment, sacrifice and work ethic. We can teach them to work together toward a common goal despite their differences. We can be there for them as they deal with family issues or the loss of a loved one. We can invest a little extra time into those kids who maybe need some support or encouragement.
As a coach it’s been my privilege to impact the girls I’ve been able to serve. I’ve learned so many wonderful lessons from my players, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to change lives through the art of coaching.
If you are new to coaching, my only piece of advice is this… remember that soon the game won’t matter, but you have an opportunity to teach your players so many tools and skills that do matter. Invest the time to create good rapport off the court. Find a way to connect. Let your players know that you care about them as a person more than as a player because most of them won’t play past high school, and even fewer will ever make it to the pros. Winning is fun. I’m not a participation ribbon type person, but I’ve had to create some different bench marks for success at certain times. Just keep it all in perspective, and do what you can to make a positive impact.
To all the players I’ve been blessed to coach, past and present, thank you for teaching me! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey! Keep doing the amazing things you are destined to do!