Get More Playing Time!
In volleyball, with a team of 12 and only 6 or 7 players on the court it leaves a lot of players out of many games and wanting more playing time.
As coaches we hear griping and complaining about fairness, favorite players, having bad days, boyfriends and more, but the most common complaint is lack of playing time.
I wanted to provide all volleyball players trying to get more playing time some tips on getting on the court.
First off let’s start with attitude. If you feel like you are being “picked on” or that you are not the coaches favorite, you must change your attitude immediately. Regardless of whether the coach likes you or not, being depressed, sad or disheartened won’t get you any more playing time, it will likely get you less. The attitude you must have is that of a true warrior. You must believe in yourself and set a reasonable goal and work extremely hard to achieve it. A reasonable goal for a “bench warmer” might simply be to get on the court 1 time per match.
To achieve that goal you are going to have to work extremely hard. I always tell athletes that to get playing time on the court, you don’t have to be just as good as the starting outside hitter, middle blocker, setter or libero….you have to be better! If I have a team that is finally starting to blend together on offense and defense, as a coach I am reluctant to put a new player in that might disrupt the balance. The easiest thing for a coach to see is effort! If I were to guess how hard a girl or boy tries at practice on average I would say it is between 70 and 80 percent! The best athletes always give 100% and it will be hard to steal playing time from them, but there are always at least 2 or 3 on every team that lack the hustle and the discipline that the coach is looking for. If you change your mindset and give more effort than you have ever given in every practice, your coach will notice. This means you will be the first one there, the last one to leave, running to and from water breaks, diving for balls that seem out of reach, working on skills before and after practice, the first one to finish “sprints” if you do them and the last one to complain about anything.
Now to the skills! If another athlete is simply better at a given skill, you are going to have to spend more time practicing your skills. Find a friend to play volleyball with and make it a habit of playing all the time. Usually the better athletes started playing volleyball earlier or because they get time in games, they are getting better while you sit the bench. If you want to perform a skill better, private instruction or just more time alone is critical to improve your volleyball performance.
Skills have two main components from a coaching standpoint. They are the ability to perform the skill well and ability to abstain from making an error while performing the skill. Think of the outside hitter for a moment. If my attacker can hit inside the 10-foot line every time, it is going to look impressive, but if they hit inside the 10 foot line 50% of the time and the other 50% they hit in the net, it isn’t quite as impressive. I have had great athletes sit the bench because they can’t make a conscious decision to swing with a little less gusto and keep the ball in the court. On this aspect, you will want to watch your teammates and see what they do well and what they do poorly. If you can be better at their weakness than they are, this will get you noticed again by the coach.
Lastly, be good at something! If all you can do is pass, get better at passing and become the best. If all you have is an aggressive serve, then work hard at serving aggressively until you get aces frequently in practice. Aces are a coach’s best friend!
Pretend this is a volleyball video not a basketball and you’ll see what I mean!