How the Game Changed

Dec. 23, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

How the Game Changed
By Stacy Sykora, three-time Olympian, 2008 Silver Medalist

Volleyball has changed since I started playing. Let me tell y’all about volleyball when I was in high school and even when I played in college.

The ball was white, first of all. Try passing a hard served white ball with a white wall in the background. We played to 15 points but you could only get a point if you served the ball. Our games sometimes lasted three to four hours.

We could only serve from Position 1. Passing over head was a lift. The serve could not touch the net. The jump float did not exist.

Yes, now looking back I am officially old. I am like the grandparent telling her grandchildren stories. These changes that were made, made the sport of volleyball more intense, faster, more fun to watch and easier for teams to upset higher ranked teams.

No matter what age you are at the moment, the sport of volleyball will make its changes.

I believe that young athletes should take advantage of all the opportunities there are to learn the sport of volleyball and how it is being played at the international level. Volleyball can be a lifestyle, a job, a career. You can make a living just by playing volleyball.

When I coach younger athletes, I always tell them that I learn what I am teaching them at the age of 22 or 25. What I would have done to have had the opportunity to have learned what I know now at a young age. I could have mastered it by the age of 16 or 20 instead of 25-30. A decade before I actually learned it.

It is very easy to be caught on the easy road or the routine road. Repeating everything day by day. All young athletes have so many opportunities these days with social media, YouTube and the internet to see what is going on in the world of volleyball. You can learn and see techniques that Team USA is using. What the Italian and Brazilian teams are using. You can see what the best players in your positions are doing to be the best.

Research. Learn. Find techniques and players that you really like. Try to do what they are doing. Try the techniques. It might be different, but try it.

I wish when I played volleyball at a younger age I had the ability to do what the youth can do today with the internet alone. Use it. I truly believe that you can become a better player just by watching, trying and seeing different techniques in the sport of volleyball.