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Mar 07 Volleyball and Fly Fishing

July 01, 2009, 4:58 p.m. (ET)

I got a new Orvis Helios 3wt recently. Made from the same carbon fiber they use on the Apache helicopters, it is feather light at 1.75 ounces total, and strong as heck, for casting into the afternoon winds along my favorite little streams. The science of technology amazes me, yet in our sport it remains the ball and you versus gravity...Still, look soon to see linejudges being assisted at the international level by the same technology that is used in tennis, to confirm if a ball is in or out...

A gym is a gym is a gym the world around - but when you get out on to a stream in the country or state you are helping, you see the real world. I have been fortunate to catch nature's dumbest animal, the trout (just making sure you know how dumb I am too), in Australia (both the Snow River and Tasmania), New Zealand (where 17 year old Hugh McCutcheon came up and said "Mr. Kessel, I want to come to America and play volleyball, they said you can help me...back in the late 1980s), Ireland, Italy, China, Russia and all over the USA.  It is catch and release of course, unless my hosts deserve a fresh trout meal cooked.

The science of sport - we are working hard through CAP, IMPACT, High Performance clinics and training to bring these facts to all. It is our culture we are up against in so many ways, of coach controlled, progressions and more.  Thirty years ago, in Fly Fishing magazine (Aug 79),  Dave Engerbretson wrote one of my favorite articles about teaching of all time, called "Parents, Kids & Fly Rods." He sets several great "rules" for teaching youth, here is how he leads up to the first one.

Teaching your own child to fish would seem to be a very simple and natural thing. It's no big deal: "Come on, son. Let's go fishin'." But don't be misled! Whether or not you end up with a lifelong fishing partner may well depend upon how you respond to the innocent question, "Daddy, will you teach me how to fly-fish?"

 While the question may be innocent, it is significant because it indicates that the child has an interest in learning the sport. Normally, of course, this is no problem - kids love to fish. But occasionally an over-anxious parent will attempt to push a child into the activity before the desire is there, and this is almost guaranteed to cause problems. When pushed, the child will be a difficult student at best, and at worst he'll be completely turned off by the whole thing.

A better approach is to relax and let nature take its course. The exposure that your child has to the sport as you tinker with your tackle, tie flies and practice casting on the lawn should eventually pique his natural curiosity, and he'll probably be eager to try it. So - the first rule is: Don't push the subject, but wait until the interest is there.

 Then  he shows why we should spike and play first and often with young kids - when he writes..." When taking the first fishing trip, there must be one primary consideration - do whatever you can to guarantee that the kids will catch fish!  Take them to an easy stream, let them catch little, stocked fish, or go bluegill fishing, but if at all possible make sure they're successful.  Nothing generates excitement like a fish on the end of the line, and nothing produces disinterest and boredom more quickly than a long day with no action."

 So decades ago I sent this very article to one of the people who has helped USA Volleyball win more international and Olympic medals than maybe any other person in our sport, Dr. Carl McGown from BYU.  His clinics and books are the best in the world IMHO (CAP I uses his book Coaching Volleyball as our textbook), and in his book, The Science of Coaching Volleyball references then paraphrases this article to make these ideas apply to volleyball. McGown writes:

"Remember, too, that children learn best by imitation; that is, by watching and doing, rather than by long, involved, technical explanations. A discussion of horizontal momentum, optimum jumping angles, force conversion and so on could as well be given in a foreign language for all the good it will do most spikers. The majority of instructors talk too much. Show them what to do. Even the simplest jump is made up of many components, and it is usually a mistake to try to emphasize all of these at one time. A beginner cannot mentally concentrate upon timing, the footwork, the jump, the arm-swing, ball placement, the contact, and the recovery simultaneously. Therefore, after the child has been given a general introduction to spiking, it is best to concentrate on only one component at a time. For example, have the child do a complete spike, but concentrate only on the footwork at the end of the approach."

Gee, all this from Fly Fishing...So some pictures at the end to show how fishing teaches fishing as does the game teaches the game and for us all, the circle of life...my dad when he was 6...me when I was 4...me getting out of the cabins while at the Arizona RVA Staff and Leadership meetings near Sedona, and my son Cody...and the last shot? Wiz Bachman McCutcheon, before she met Hugh, when I took the A2 team fly fishing on the Arkansas River, so they too could get out of the gym.... I will let Dave Egerbretson close this blog as he closed his article...

Yes, we teach them many things besides how to catch fish when we take our children fishing. They learn our philosophy and our attitudes about nature, conservation, streamside etiquette, other people and life itself. We may not even be fully aware that we are teaching these very important concepts. But we are. We teach them by our actions, which speak at least as loud as our words. In fact, it's quite likely that what we do and how we do it will be remembered after the words we have spoken are long forgotten.

The teaching of our children is an awesome responsibility and must not be taken too lightly. For in our children lies the future of clean air and water, wild fish, and the sport of fly-fishing.

Hope you have a great summer, on the court, but also off of it, and maybe on some great stream or lake you can get away to and enjoy - and in the performance vs. outcome part of our science of sport - remember you are going fly FISHING, not fly CATCHING, unless you are taking beginners out to "hook them" to the sport... John.Kessel@usav.org

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