I coach for many reasons…
I do not coach volleyball, I coach athletes.
A volleyball is a ball, an inanimate object. Volleyball is a game, a game that I’m blessed to have some knowledge of. I am coaching human beings… athletes all along the youth development spectrum, from children to young adults. I will always meet my athletes where they are, and not where I want them to be. My athletes will have different timelines and struggles, but they will all feel the same when they succeed. My job as a coach is to facilitate this success.
I coach to pass on my knowledge.
I’ve been blessed through experience to have gained a tiny bit of insight regarding the game of Volleyball. This privilege demands more of me though. It demands that I do my part to pass my knowledge down to those who wish to learn. It demands that I do everything I can to learn more, question what I already know, and accept what I do not know.
I coach to be a role model.
You are always being watched by eyes you can’t see. My athletes, their families, trust me to train them in more than just volleyball. I’m a role model, for everyone I coach. Whether it’s on the court, the bench, or in the stands my actions will always weigh heavier because of the responsibility I’ve been trusted with. I was lucky enough to have several good role models in my life to pave the way for me, and I’m glad to hold the torch for my players and their families.
I coach to stay humble, flexible, and motivated.
I coach because it demands humility, it demands for me to know what I do not know. If anyone ever tells you they know everything about any subject, they’re simply lying. Coaching requires me to constantly learn, because volleyball is a dynamic game that is constantly evolving. The more I learn, the more I can teach, and teaching is an amazing privilege.
It requires me to be flexible, to work with and through my athletes to meet our team goals. Volleyball is a chaotic game. Every play and point is intrinsically different. No point or action is ever the same, and this maxim translates to my athletes. Each player is different, every team I’ve ever coached is different, every season has been different. Flexibility is important, and I reserve my right to rethink my approaches to different problems.
It requires me to be motivated, motivated to learn what I don’t know. Volleyball is constantly evolving, and I will never be comfortable with only learning what I have. I will always put my effort into learning more, for the benefit of myself, my colleagues, my athletes, and their families.
You will not win, if you are afraid to lose.
My greatest weakness as a player has honestly turned into my greatest realization as a coach. I was always afraid of failure. My anxiety, my nervousness, my fear… it held me back in more ways than one during my playing career.
This is not unique to me. For every athlete I’ve coached who was fearless I’ve seen five more with the same fears I had. We’re all human, and process the world intrinsically based upon our own experiences. But if there is one simple truth in my approach to volleyball (and life); it’s you will not win, if you are afraid to lose.
My practices will be ugly, my athletes will train ugly. My players will make mistakes. My approaches will be as game-like as possible. I will take risks as a coach; if I’ve been working on a jump serve with my player and they’re afraid to do it in a game, I will push them to do it. If we’ve been working on hitting spots and my player is afraid to try in a game, I will push them to hit spots.
Because at the end of the day, I don’t care about a missed serve or a ball hit out of bounds. I care about pushing my athletes to new heights as players. I care about elevating their game so they will win when winning matters.
My players will fail one million times, and it’s ok. I’m never looking at the million failures… I’m waiting for the one moment when the degree of difficulty meets the appropriate amount of skill. I’m waiting for the moment when it clicks, when all the pieces come together and those failures lead to one amazing success. Because when it happens, the end result will be a player not afraid to lose, who will take chances, and thrive under pressure.
I coach to win.
Every season, I speak to my teams about my expectations as their coach. I tell them I want to win our regional tournament, because I want to be the best in our region at the end of the year. Every tournament up until that point will be about taking chances, risks, and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones.
I’m not afraid to lose a game, in that I’ve been clear. But I do not coach to lose. I will always put the best team on the court, and prepare my athletes to the best of my abilities to achieve our goals.
If we lose here and there before then, that’s ok to me. If we go to a high level competition and get scraped by better teams, that’s ok to me. If critics complain about my decision to take a risk that results in a loss, I will not care.
You will only learn in life by experiencing losses and failures. The ultimate prize, for me, will always be to say we are the best team standing at the end of the year. That victory is worth a million failures; and that is what my teams train for.