Manny Johnson: Blog 14 at 2008 HP Youth Holiday Camp

Jan. 21, 2009, 5:21 p.m. (ET)

Day 8 1-2-09 session 1

Review day today!  We went over all of the skills and keys we have been working on all week.  We started by discussing the pre-practice routine; Neil told the girls that they need to be aware of their deficiencies as players and focus on them while they are doing the pre-practice routine.  For example, if a player is not a good hitter it may be because she is not transitioning off the net, she may not be using proper footwork, her arms may not be going down back and up, pre-practice provides the player an opportunity to work on her weakness in a low stress environment.  Neil also introduced a graph for us with daring on one axis and mistakes on the other; as daring increases so do the mistakes.  The idea is to be daring when it can help you score points while minimizing mistakes and not be so daring if the point scoring opportunity is not there. 

The girls then did a passing review.  The keys for passing are: wrist and hands, straight and simple, ball knows angles, see the server, see the spin, shuffle your feet, pass 15 feet in the air 5 feet off the net, and don't get beat short. We also went over the setting keys at this time they are as follows: athletic position, square to ball, pivot to target (F2, Face the ball, Face the target),  superman (finish w/hands extended out palms flat), keep the ball off the net, set the ball inside the court, run the middle on balls in the seam.  After reviewing these skills we had the girls go through a butterfly passing drill once without setters and a second time w/setters. 

After passing, we went over the keys for individual defense.  When playing defense we want the players to be stopped w/feet apart ready to dig when the hitter swings.  The digger should be trying to put the ball 10-20-middle.  We reviewed the overhand series; catch, tomahawk, and fist and when to use them and we went over the emergency maneuvers, pancake and sprawl.  We also went over the keys for jump serving, both spike and float.  For the jump spike the keys we use are; 4 steps, right hand right foot, step w/the right-toss-left-right-left-serve, the steps go from slow to fast and small to big, arms down back and up, and torque.  For the jump float the keys are; 4 steps right-left-place(toss)-right-left, slow to fast, torque and keep it simple.  We did coach on three and serving on court to emphasize the keys.

Next we reviewed hitting and transition keys.  For hitting the hitter should focus on hitting everything.  Keys to help insure that the hitter not only hits everything but hopefully scores are; four steps (right-left-right-left for righties,  opposite for lefties), the steps go from small to big and slow to fast, arms are down back and up, torque, and bow and arrow.  We discussed hitting range, the ability to hit to different parts of the court at different speeds, and how important it is to making one a complete hitter.  In transition we want the players to be able to get off the net quickly and efficiently while putting themselves in a good approach position.  We reiterated the footwork patterns (4-4 for lefts, 3-3 for middles & lefts, 5-4 and 4-3 for rights), the second step pivot and when all else fails run.  We also reviewed the swing blocking keys.  The keys for swing blocking are; 3 steps slow to fast small to big, find the set, see the hitter, penetrate over, block seam, and at higher levels more blockers are better than fewer.  We reviewed positioning on a triple block; we want the rightside blocker to seal the pin while the other two close to her and penetrate.  The left back comes up to about 10x10 and covers the tip, middle back rotates over and lines up w/the corner, and right back takes a step in the court and watches for balls off the block and tips.  On court the girls did some high ball hitting and then transition hitting, where the player makes a block move then transitions off before taking an approach to hit.  Finally we added blockers and diggers and did a transition wash drill. 

The session ended with a recap where the coaches reiterated the importance of mindfulness and consistency.  Neil said that volleyball is a visual motor sport; visual what you see, motor what you do. With the emphasis on what you see, "don't go till you know" was one phrase we used often to highlight the importance of what you see.  We don't want the girls to mistake activity for productivity, "don't be in a hurry to go nowhere" was the key phase here.  Neil made an analogy comparing a hot air balloon to a rock; you can't count on a hot air balloon to fly everyday, if it is too windy, if it is raining, or too foggy, the balloon is grounded.  Hot air balloons only fly when the conditions are perfect.  Compare that to a rock, no matter what is going on around it the rock is always solid; you can depend on it no matter what.  Which kind of player do want to be and which kind of player would you like as a teammate?  The last thing we talked about was standards.  Neil's quote was "You don't get credit for everything you can and should do! You get credit for amazing, extraordinary plays and for consistent effort.