Spring Break, prom, graduation, ACT’s, homework… it’s that time of the year where many distractions creep in for volleyball athletes and it’s easy for coaches to become frustrated. It’s difficult to have an efficient practice when many players are missing, and when they are at practice they’re thinking about what dress to wear that weekend. How can we as coaches keep our players focused, especially with Nationals right around the corner?

Coaches! It is hard to get inside your 16 year-old athletes’ minds and figure out exactly what makes them tick, but there are a few methods we can try to steer them back on track.

  1. Strike a balance between dead time and active learning/movement. Players sat in school listening to their teachers talk all day, the last thing they want to do is stand there while the coach rambles on. Mix in active coaching while they are in the drill, and when you stop play to coach, make it brief and get to the point.
  2. Set goals for practice and the remainder of the season. Make a conscious effort at the end of every practice to evaluate whether your team accomplished those goals. Hold your players accountable when they veer off. Set your goals and evaluate your goals together.
  3. Spice up the practice plan. If you use the same drills at every practice, the kids may start to just go through the motions or get bored. Implement a few new drills to get them thinking. It may accomplish the same outcomes as the old drills, but in their minds the drill is something new and fresh.
  4. Do not forget about feedback! If players continue to do something right, let them know. It is a long season, but the athletes are looking for verbal satisfaction to know they are still doing some things right, instead of hearing all the wrong. Positive feedback keeps them motivated.
  5. Team bonding! Do something fun with your team. Go see a movie, get some ice cream, plan a team dinner, attend a local sporting event, do community service. Whatever it may be, do something away from the gym atmosphere to give them a restart.

Keeping your athletes engaged between the ears can be frustrating at times, but as coaches we need to figure out ways keep the distractions from negatively impacting practice and your team’s goals.. If we just get frustrated, we are not being proactive and finding a solution to the problem.

To read more tips on coaching your volleyball team click here.

About the Author

Lisa Pierce is JVA Member Development & Services Coordinator. If you have some suggestions of your own, email them to us  so we can share your ideas with the rest of the JVA coaching community.