Coaching Questions

QUESTION: What do you do when an athlete is not adjusting their behavior? For example, the athlete who is not calling the ball or not in a ready position? Do I continually stop practice & prompt them and then give positive reinforcement when they do it? It's something that I am really stuck on and would love any guidance you have.

ANSWER: "Catch them being good". That really is what it comes down to. Use summary feedback and scoring for what you want to happen. For example, if you see that four out of five athletes are right and one is doing wrong, your feedback is on the 4 right, NOT the one wrong. If the opposite happens, you address the 4 wrong as to what they need to start doing in the next 5.  Then in scoring, you do things like, talking gets extra points (1 more, double the score, etc.) while being silent is zero or even loses the points scored. Simply, catch them doing what you want and give it your attention rather than traditionally staying silent and then when they err, going bonkers.

QUESTIONWe have a very limited pool of kids to pull from and we have managed to find 8 great players. However, I have come to learn that one of my prospects is just outside the age line. She will be 14 through the entire season but I am being told she cannot play for us. The rules state Sept 1997 is the cut-off and she has a July birthday. 

Can you give me some guidance on how I might be able to get her in to play!? She’s a great kid who loves the game! She’s devastated that she won’t be able to play…..AND I desperately need her as our team is down to 7 without her. It will be difficult at best to make it through a season with that number. We are actively recruiting but as I mentioned, the pool is limited….especially with a new team.

ANSWER: As always, it is best to check with your local RVA to see if they have any type of age waiver and what the restrictions are for obtaining. Some RVA's allow the waiver for circumstances that are specific to the area in which you reside.  

QUESTIONI recently got a preview of the team I will be coaching in the spring and serve receive is going to be a serious concern. I was observing a lot of platform errors as well as passes that were tight to the net. I remembered what you said about having the setter come off the net a bit and that helped but I was wondering if you have any serve receive drills that would help. Also the other question I have is with regard to arm swing because I know you are not big on boxes some of my athletes are contacting the ball at the shoulder rather than reaching to get the ball. Any ideas or game ideas?


  1. Check out the No More Passing Blog
  2. Read Around a League in 80 days
  3. Stop doing drills where you just serve and make sure at least one person, preferably two people, are receiving while everyone else is serving.  Put one or two receivers per side.  Make sure your worst passers are out there a lot more 
  4. Play a lot of monarch of the court and guide them to look through the net