1 . Make it through club volleyball tryouts.
This one is hopefully already completed, so congratulations! Tryouts are exhausting for everyone involved; players, coaches, parents, directors, friends, everyone. Once the tryout process is completed and you have made it out with only a couple scratches you can patch yourself up and push forward into the season with clear eyes, clear heart, and as they say you can’t lose!
2. Communicate with your coach. Player to Coach
Always feel comfortable talking to your coach during practice and during tournaments. This relationship is built between player and coach being able to trust the other party. This is built from the second you walk through the door. Always know that this relationship can be expanded upon. All it takes is you being honest with your coach early in the season and thus the first hurdle is cleared. Continue forward.
3. Don’t internalize a frustration. Talk to your coach
The moment you become frustrated or feel like you’re out of cards to play, talk to your coach about it. Player to coach. If you approach the conversation prepared to hear your coaches opinions and you are able to reflect on them and provide a proper response, you are growing your relationship. The foundation will be set and you will overcome any future struggles with ease and dignity.
4. Watch other players from other teams and how they interact with their team
This one is super important! There are tens of thousands of club volleyball teams across the country. Your team is but one of them. Each team has their own personalities, their own dynamics, their own pillars of performance and dignity. Watch how players not only on the court interact with their team, but off of the court and see what you can bring into your arsenal to improve the quality of life on the team. Coaches use this method all the time. You can never stop learning
5. Find ways, other than volleyball skill, that you can improve.
These are referred to as “The intangibles”. The skills that permeate throughout a team and allow players to expand into their next horizon. The intangible skills go from anything such as demeanor to celebrations to how you react when adversity strikes. They are skills that aren’t talked about enough but are crucial to not only your success this season, but your success once club and high school volleyball has ended. This is where the life-skills come into action and trying to work on these skills takes a lot of perseverance and personal reflection. Be comfortable and trudge onwards.
6. Constantly reflect.
You’re in the car on your way home after practice? Reflect. You’ve just ended a set and are grabbing your bags to switch sides? Reflect. You’re going through the best portion of your career and are playing the best you’ve ever played? Reflect. Reflections do wonders if you ask questions such as, “What do I stand for? How do I want to be perceived by others? Where do I want to be 1 year from now? Did I give it my best effort?”
7. Write a set of achievable goals and continually push yourself to achieve these goals.
I emphasize achievable heavily on this one. Create a list of goals that you set for yourself and can check off your table consistently. Making small progress and knowing that you are making progress by tracking it is key in avoiding the feeling that you haven’t improved at all. We all experience this pain and I’ve found that creating a checklist of goals to accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis is pivotal to feeling as though what I am doing is good enough.
8. Remind yourself that your time will come
Didn’t play as much as you pleased? Don’t panic. Had a bad practice right before a tournament? No worries. Someone’s having a better performance than you are at the same position today? Congratulate them. Express gratitude in times of sorrow and be appreciative for where you are. Remind yourself of why you are here and how you can continue to grow and develop as a person and as a player.
9. Take in every second of practice.
Make your water breaks faster. Make your serve float deeper. Hit the seams harder. Force mismatches with perfectly executed sets. Smile more. Practice is your moment. Practice should be 80% of why you signed up for club; to continue training into the great unknown that is our volleyball world. This is where every tear, ounce of sweat, crumpled water bottle and shrieks of joy is refined, reformed and created into the final product you see on tournament day. Make it count.
10. Push yourself to relate with your teammates.
Every person on your team provides a critical role overall, even if the picture sometimes is hard to see. Maybe coming into the season you are the best player on the team. How can you relate to the rest? Maybe your team is all of your friends except for one person you’ve never met. How can you introduce them to your friend circle? Perhaps there’s downtime between matches on tournament day. What’s something you can all do together in order to create a special moment. When I played club, I couldn’t tell you specific moments in games with my team that I remember. I couldn’t even tell you scores of matches or really a lot of the opponents we played. What I remember clearest is the time off the court that we spent doing goofy, borderline crazy things like hallway swimming in Penn State with my team. Those memories last a lifetime.