Friday, January 18, 2008

Netless Practice

Last night's volleyball practice was a novel 90 minutes for me, and I hope a learning experience for my girls.

The basketball team finished up on the court, I unlocked the cabinet with the volleyball stuff in it and told the team to get the nets set up. Then I started talking to one of the girl's parents. After about four minutes I looked over my shoulder to see how the net setup was going. My team was standing in the corner of the gym talking while the youngest member of the team stood over next to the standards waiting for someone to help her set them up.

This was a very ironic experience seeing as how the parent (who is many of the girl's basketball coach) and I were discussing the lackadaisical attitude that so many of the girls have. They still treat this club team as a social circle. They get together, they talk, they visit, and sometimes they play a little volleyball. I looked over at the parent, and we both shrugged, he smiled, told me "Good Luck" and left.

I picked up the brass covers for the standard receivers walked across the floor, putting them back into place. This got the attention of my players. But I didn't look at them. I continued across the floor, shoved the cart with the standards and nets back into the closet and locked the door.

When I turned around the team was all standing behind me with very curious looks on their faces. I just shrugged and said "If you don't want to set up the nets, we'll just practice without them. Unfortunately the only things I know to do on a volleyball court without a net involve running. You ready?"

Over the next 90 minutes we worked on speed, endurance, quickness, core strength, arm strength and eventually in order to avoid killing them we did some setting and passing drills.

Needless to say with their parents came to pick them up I turned over 9 very tired young girls to them. Several of the girls were complaining to their parents about how tired they were after practice. To a person every parent just smiled, patted them on the head, or gave them a hug and said "Good." Then told me good evening and left.

I think they got the message, and I didn't even have to yell.

On the bragging about my girls side, they were running through passing lines with me tossing balls to them. As they got warmed up and into a rhythm I stopped tossing and started hitting balls about the speed I knew that they could hit. They were doing a pretty good job of digging up these balls so I asked if they wanted to take it up a notch? Several of them hollered yes, so I started increasing the speed I was hitting at them. After two times through the line I stepped up the hits to about as hard as I could swing. I intentionally aimed off to the side of each girl so I wouldn't hurt any of them if they mishandled the ball. The first time around most of them either screamed and jumped away from the ball, or just stood there with a shocked look on their faces as the ball screamed past them.

The second time around, 7 of the 9 girls there lunged sideways into the path of those hits and tried to pass them. The only 2 who didn't try, were just too slow. They didn't react until the ball had gone past them. The third time through the line 6 of the nine managed to get their arms in front of the ball and one of them actually managed to pass it back to near the target.

About then I had to slow back down, my old shoulders don't have that many really hard swings left in them and trying to pound around 30 in a row like that was pushing it. But I was very impressed with their willingness to step in and give those shots a go. When we were done the one player who managed the one pass asked me if any of the 14 year olds they would play this year could hit like that. I told her that there probably weren't many 16 year olds that will be able to hit like that. She just beamed me a huge grin and walked away. I have a least one player that "gets it."

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