Fun Ways to Build a Competitive Culture in Your Gym


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Premier Academy (Maumee, Ohio) tier trains, which means that 7-8 teams train together at the same time in the gym. One of the best parts of tier training is how many things we can do with all of our players at one time, which helps cultivate a strong club culture.

We try very hard to share a lot of what we do in our gym in an effort to grow the game. Over the last couple of years, our social media followers have grown immensely. Our instagram has over 21,000 followers, most of which are other volleyball clubs around the world.

"Competition Breeds Improvement."

A couple of years ago I began to notice that this generation of players seem to back away from inter-team and player to player competition more than in years past. I felt like we needed to add something into our gym to get the competitive juices flowing a bit more. Also, in a club season, we only compete in tournaments on average every other weekend, so adding some little competitions into our practices, helps keep those juices flowing and creates a really fun atmosphere for players of all ages.

Here is what we developed that we now do religiously every week/month.

Fight for it Friday (FFIF)
Every Friday we have a "Fight for it Friday" activity. This activity is usually between volunteer athletes or sometimes a challenge might call for a certain position player from each team, or even everyone in the gym participating if the game warrants that. The idea behind Fight for It Friday is that you only end up with one player winning. This creates more inter-club and inter-team competition. It also shows the most competitive athletes!

Each Friday, we start practice with a challenge that we come up with that is quick and easy to set up and takes no more than 10 minutes to complete.

We have three rules:
1) we try and only use equipment or items we have around our facility so that we don't spend money
2) the challenge is non-volleyball related
3) the challenge is equal to all players regardless of their age.

We train 8-18 year olds together, so it's very challenging for us to come up with things each week! For FFIF, there is also always a prize to give out that they are "fighting for." The prizes can range from things such as Premier apparel, picking the movie we watch on the bus that weekend, two seats on the bus, a week of smoothies from concessions, etc. This year while at the NCAA Div I Volleyball Championships in December, I bought a nice t-shirt from the match and used that for a prize the next week.

Let's just say, they fought hard to win that one! Here are a few videos of Fight for It Friday challenges:

Fight For It Friday!

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Fight For It Friday! 1st To 3

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Fight for It Friday! Circle the Wagons

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"You get out what you put in."

Gold Ball Challenge
The other thing that we do is a monthly team challenge we call Gold Ball Challenge. The concept behind the Gold Ball Challenge is to have teams as a whole compete against each other all at one time. These challenges take a little longer to set up (usually 10 minutes of set up) and we can spend a little money on materials if needed.

The Gold Ball challenge/game is designed to be equal and fair to everyone regardless of age/physicality, etc., so that any team can win. Again, with 8-18 year olds, this is my biggest challenge as the designer of the games, however, it is always fulfilling when I design a great game!Gold Ball Challenge is not only an opportunity to compete, but also a way for us to raise funds for our end of the year party.

Gold Ball Challenge works like this:
Once a month, we designate the Gold Ball Challenge Day. Each player brings $7 in cash on this day (we have 7 teams in a tier). We compete in teams and each team finishes in a certain place. After the game is over, the winning team gets the Gold Ball (an actual Molten Gold Volleyball) that they keep for the next month until the next challenge happens and they bring it back as "defending champions (You might spot a Premier team using their Gold Ball during warm-ups at a tournament and if you do, you know that they won it that month.)

Then, the winning team pays $0, the 2nd place team pays $2 third place $3 etc., all the way down to the 7th team, and the coaches pay too!

We do this once a month for 6 months and we collect roughly $300 a month from the challenges and then we use the approximately $1800 or so to fund our annual season end banquet. The funds are used to buy senior gifts, food, awards, games, decorations, etc. So, all of the money the players pay actually all goes right back to them at the end of the season. This is a great way to compete, have fun, and raise some funds for a season ending party.

Here are a few Gold Ball Challenge games:

18-Os win this month's Gold Ball Challenge, Dots and Boxes!

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February Gold Ball Challenge Rebuild Relay!

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18-Os win the June Gold Ball Challenge, Plunge Ahead!

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Jodi Schramm is the Club Director of Premier Academy, a member of the Junior Volleyball Association. To learn more about the JVA click here. For related reading for junior volleyball coaches click here. For more education for junior volleyball coaches click here.


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