Testing Your Perception and Awareness

By John Kessel | Sept. 02, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

When USA was playing Brazil in the London 2012 Olympics pool play, a missed call was made against USA as opposite Clay Stanley hammered a ball off the blocker’s hand that then went directly into the antenna.  This happened in milliseconds, but right in front of the official on the stand, who perceived that Clay hit the ball into the antenna first.  The speed of the game of volleyball, over 100 kph often, can cause for even the best referees to miss the call, something we all can see later “easily” in super slow motion. Later in the tournament, a jump serve “ace” on Italy was shown to be clearly out. While it is likely that top international volleyball matches will soon see the line calling replay devices as seen in international professional tennis, in the next quad, as the FIVB is testing systems, this Olympics and Paralympics does not have instant replay.  

Here at the Paralympics, the each side of the court is 4 meters shorter and 3 meters narrower, and the play action over the much lower net is very fast, while including each contact being checked for still having your bottom on the floor. It is a new skill set and the referees here are very good at seeing both, with the second referee checking floor contact and calling as needed, much to every player’s consternation. My favorite part is when all four line judges signal an antenna out of bounds contact, waving three times back and forth in perfect synchronization as if they were all connects. As in the Olympics, the scoreboard and scoresheet itself has gone electronic, still will paper/flip board back up in case of power outages. We also have eight TV replay breaks, lasting a maximum of seven seconds, in each set. The referees have been having special training to see the red light/paddle just in front of our jury table, controlled by the TV producer, as it is a new thing to the first referee’s awareness pattern.

Please make sure to listen to Tom Hoff’s Gold Medal Secrets free USAV webinar, http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Grassroots/Free-Webinars.aspx as he spoke very well on how pattern awareness is a big part of blocking and playing success. From those, you make decisive decisions and go with that choice – you don’t want to second guess yourself in action – as the time to process and perform skill action is simply too short.  This is a big part of why GAME play needs to be increased by most programs, over drills, as drills simply do not teach a player to be aware of the patterns in play by certain players.  When I do clinics, I ask the coaches – why is it you could walk from the bench to save a tip shot, but your players out on the court can’t save it? – THAT is the awareness that comes from play, seeing/knowing a tip is more likely in this contact even before the contact/shot is made, by being aware of the patterns in the play of the game and match.

So here at USA Volleyball we thought others might like to see our Top 10 List of things that test our awareness and perception.  Enjoy, and if you have others to add, share in the comments for all to learn from, or email me at john.kessel@usav.org

1. Awareness Test – How many passes does the team in white make?

2. Awareness Test #2 – Whodunnit to Lord Smithe?

3. National Geographic Perception and Reality Part 1 of 3 – Watch the other two also.

4. National Geographic Ability of Attention Part 1 of 3 – Watch the other two also.

5. Volleyball Self Set #1

6. Volleyball Self Set

7. Special Awareness Training – Super Spike Competition at BYUI

8. Amazing Animated Optical Illusion

9. Mind Tricks

10. Perfect Perspective

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