Boys and volleyball – does that fit?

Coach Bert from the Netherlands asked through Twitter for the „missing link“ to get boys into volleyball. Here are some thoughts:

What these young boys do not see at first glance is the physical aspect of our game. But they are looking for a chance to compete, to show some physical abilities to themselves and others. Well, in volleyball they are putting a ball over the net. Not very attractive.

What we need to do when advertising volleyball is to point out the physical, competitive aspect. Just today I received the new book of one of the best German coaches, Michael Warm. It’s titled „Volleyball – your way to the top“. It is made for young players to help them getting better by working hard and being focused. I haven’t had a chance to look inside, but there are five pictures on the front cover. And guess what they are showing? 1. German National Team player Jochen Schöps cheering very emotionally with his fists clenched and his body tensed very tightly. 2. Marcus Popp hitting half a meter over a double block. 3. A player (couldn’t identify her) from the German National U20 Team showing her gold medal won at the World Championship 2009 4. A not identified Player (woman) digging with all might for an impossible ball 5. German beach super star Laura Ludwig I don’t know for what reason coach Warm chose those pictures but they are hitting exactly the target group. Volleyball is physical, it is emotionally and you can become a star much easier then in soccer or american football. We have something to go for.

Advertising volleyball to boys has to have those aspects in mind. Why not showing a high light video of your national team? Show them how high these players fly, how hard they spike, how impenetrable a good block is, that you can reach balls that seem to be way out of reach. Volleyball is physical and it aks for a lot of effort and emotions. Yes, we don’t make direct contact to the opponent, but the impact of a solid hit by a volleyball is something you have to be able to give or take. When this is what these boys are looking for, we have to show them right from the beginning.

Coach Bert, I think the real problem starts when you got them to show up at practice. We know that it takes a long time to reach a level where you can spike balls, digg or jump serve. We have to create physical contests – even though they are not volleyball like. In the sport of volleyball every play is important. We have to pressurize the team on the other side of the net. On the defensive side you need to be quick, have lots of courage and you can drive the other team crazy if you are getting every single ball before it hits the ground.

As a coach we can bring all this into our practice. Even if the players are not ready for volleyball techniques yet. We can simulate tough situations with catch and throwing games. We can encourage the players to give everything for bringing the ball to the floor on the other side of the net or diving like hell to prevent a ball to touch the ground. We have to show them how tough it is to play volleyball on a high level.

I think, that this will not only hold curious boys in your club team but helps them to learn very important skills even before they start playing „real“ volleyball.

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