I’m Amanda Youell, a volleyball coach. I’ve been coaching off and on since I was 19 years old myself. That would make it about thirteen years total. I coach elementary school all the way through high school, girls and boys! Some weeks, depending on the season, I’m working with over 100 different athletes. Some in the gym, but mostly on the court.
I care immensely about the mental and psychological development of the athletes I coach. I want each one to figure out what they’re capable of and to realize what they can achieve when they put in hard and intelligent work for what they want.
From my player turned coach perspective, I feel that the technical aspect of the sport has been given more focus. Throughout the sport at various levels I see more and more clubs introducing a fitness aspect to their younger athletes. Developing more explosive movements while also spending time on mobility is great in teaching and expanding motor skills. What I would love to see in the future is more teaching athletes how to land properly after jumping.
Being well organized usually prevents me from losing focus. I will from time to time become distracted by a player’s question and go off my practice plans. If I find that they are not the only player who isn’t grasping a concept then I will change focus to try to bring clarity to everyone.
I find that my biggest challenge is getting my players to retain the information that I give them, or...well...maybe it's getting them to listen in the first place?!
The more experienced players usually have a solid understanding of the game so their challenges are getting them to stay focused. This means the details of the sport such as moving to the proper places on the court and when to do so, proper means of communication and even their eye sequences. What you’re looking at and what you’re looking for becomes more important at a higher level.
I think the beginners are easier to coach because if you catch their attention and keep them moving they seem to grasp more and have fun. I think that things become easier when each kid I coach wants success so badly that they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it; including listening and studying and falling in love with this wonderful game.
Though circumstances have changed there is no reason not to keep going with our sport! We are only limited in certain aspects of the game (like actually playing). My club teams are spending their time making individual videos with technical volleyball skills, and we are encouraging them to study the game from a film standpoint. I personally trust in this process to help slow the spread of this virus.
I think when this is over it will in a twisted way have brought athletes together. I’m looking forward to the first practice back in the gym because skill wise I don’t think it will be extremely bad. They’re excited to return to the court.
On the other hand, this has been a complete disaster for our boys team. Our season runs Feb - May. I have 10 seniors and I’m so sad that they did not get to finish their second run for the state tournament.
Feeling like we were on such a strong path to success and then having that ripped away has been very tough on both my players and my heart. We send our teams daily workouts I’ve put together and encourage team discussions of pro level matches. They’re fun to watch and the kids are seeing what this sport is capable of.
I also have a weekly mobility house party/zoom session to keep on track with their physical progress. We are making do and working to stay positive and active, I hope that you all at home are able to do the same!
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