4 Ideas to Help Your Team End the Season Strong
It's the calm before the season-ending storm, when clubs have a chance to rest and regroup before AAU and USAV Nationals. After a lot of matches and tournaments, everyone wants to shine in the coming weeks. Two JVA Club Directors share their ideas on ways to give your teams a shot at peaking before the summer break.
1. Get Healthy — The health of student-athletes is always a top priority, but it also gives them the confidence to play their best.
"Rehab what needs to be rehabbed, and take care of nagging injuries now," says Kelly Crowley, the club director of the Tri-State Elite Volleyball club in greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. One way Crowley fosters that is by assigning everyone accountability partners. He pairs his 15- to 18-year-old players with an 11- to 14-year-old. They are encouraged to check in with one another a few times a week and share what physical activities they did, including whether they got in 30-45 minutes of cardio, something strongly suggested by the club. They also discuss their eating habits.
2. Rest Reigns — TStreet Volleyball Club in Irvine, California, has courts blocked off for two to three hours. But in the run before Nationals, club founder Troy Tanner emphasizes efficiency in workouts and practices.
"You've got to be careful not to over fatigue them," says Tanner, a member of the U.S. men's national volleyball team that won a gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. "There's a lot of jumps on their knees and swings in their arms. I try to error on the side of resting and recovering, instead of overdoing it."
Coaches need to prioritize stretching and drills and activities that help the athletes continue to improve in an efficient time frame. "If they don't feel they're getting better in practice," Tanner says, "then you're in trouble."
3. Sweat the Details — Coaches should take some time to assess each player on the team then look at the entire team from a broad perspective.
"So many times," Crowley says, "you look back at the first half of your season, and you lost a match by two points in the third, and you think, 'If we would have done this, and done that...' Focus on the small things."
Highlight to the players the missed assignments and errant serves, the small things that can make a huge difference in a close match. "It's easy to go through the motions in practice," Crowley says. "But remind them of those couple of points you left on the board that could have been the difference in a match or tournament."
Have Fun — Tanner's club produces a lot of elite athletes and wins a lot of championships. But he said team-building is something he thinks is critically important, especially late in the season.
"We get together, have dinners or just go to the beach," Tanner says. "We don't get into volleyball or talk about volleyball so much. Just bond. Let the girls get to know each other." Those activities are particularly helpful to the newer girls on the team, Tanner says.
Tri-State Elite and Tstreet Volleyball Club are both member clubs of the Junior Volleyball Association. To learn more about the value of a JVA membership, click here. For related reading on coaching volleyball click here.
About the Author
This article is written by Sean Jensen from SportsEngine, the official technology partner of the JVA. SportEngine offers special pricing and packages exclusive to JVA member clubs. More than just a website, SportsEngine can help you solve serious challenges you face with tryouts, billing and collections, team communication, tournaments, and more. For more information click here.
Sean was born in South Korea, but he was raised in California, Massachusetts and Virginia, mostly on or near military bases. Given his unique background, he's always been drawn to storytelling, a skill he developed at Northwestern University and crafted for the last 16 years, almost exclusively covering the NFL. He's earned distinctions from the Illinois Associated Press, Minnesota Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Pro Football Writers of America and Associated Press Sports Editors. In 2006, he received a special achievement award from the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In 2014, along with BroadStreet Publishing, he created The Middle School Rules children's book series, which tells the inspirational childhood stories of famous athletes such as Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, Skylar Diggins and Jamaal Charles. He is a passionate author, speaker and content creator, working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and YMCA. Sean lives in a Minneapolis suburb with his wife, two children and dog.