Ancora Imparo Redux: Tips to Keep Learning at Home

By John Kessel | April 16, 2020, 2:30 p.m. (ET)

These unprecedented days have a silver lining: more time to learn, something important for coaches and players alike. Certainly, keeping the team learning and united is key in team sports, and video chats can help. I want to share other ways to ancora imparo that have worked for me over the decades.

Practice with ANY Family Member

Coaches: feel free to send this section onto your players; it's full of tips on how they can keep their skills sharp while staying home. More of these tips may be found on USA Volleyball's COVID Resources page.

Our sport is about pass/set/hit and serving. Anyone in your stay-in-place location can be your setter, even grandparents. If they can’t set accurately – or legally – it’s fine! Reading the randomness of their sets will make you a better and more versatile player. Your setter will likely set a meter ball (off the net like a back-row set) much sooner than a high set, so start them setting you low. They can serve at you over a rope or ribbon and you can pass into a trashcan. How often can you put into the can?

You can even play sitting volleyball in a room with a balloon or beach ball (Pro tip: remove all breakable items first) or go out on the porch).

Whatever the location, play over a rope, bench, chairs or string to keep reading the ball over the net. You could play Winner(s) Stays On, and you just need three family members for Loser Becomes the Net. Learn ball control by counting how many times you – alone or with a partner – can serve a ball over a net-height line, pass it, set it and hit it over the line. Try to serve and spike with your non-dominant hand.

Re-kindle and Share Your Love of the Game

Chat with a former teammate or your first coach about why you love volleyball. Or, reach out to another team across the world!

Once you’ve realized what you love about volleyball, you can share it with others. Contact your USAV Region office and ask how you or your team can help grow the game together. Chat with a staffer, or take this time to learn to be a referee or scorekeeper.

Dive into the FIVB, NORCECA , CEV, VCT and World ParaVolley Websites

Volleyball is the top international sport in terms of participating nations as 221 countries compete in the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). Resources for learning and growing the game may be found worldwide:

Note: A manuscript of mine that eventually became the first edition of the USAV IMPACT manual was recently re-discovered. I titled it Kessel’s Coaching Encyclopedia as it is 387 pages of information on all skills, systems and the mental game. It will be released free of charge in four parts this month, and I’ll follow up with a podcast, among others, to share what has changed and what remains the same in the past 35 years.

50 Things to Do During the Pandemic.

Listen to Podcasts, Facebook Live and other Broadcasts

I frequently spend time listening to podcasts and learning while commuting and doing other activities. While listening, I keep audio notes by my phone’s voice recorder in order to remember key points. These are my current go-to listens:

In my next blog I will share coaching/leadership books that made an impact on me as well as movies that kept me learning. You don’t need to wait for my list, though; start reading and watching now!

Remember to Laugh

Stay at Home Schedule.

This closing section is thanks to Heidi Anderson and Shelley Small of the USAV CAP program.

9:00: When Leftovers are Way Too Left Over
9:30: How to Hit the Mute Button Lightning Fast
10:00: GoToMeeting Ain’t for Concerts
1100: Getting Your Neighbor Out of Your Yard Because He Just Doesn’t Get It
12:00: Angling Your Laptop Camera For Maximum Results
12:30: Addressing a Co-worker Who Drools
1:00: Will Barking During Skype Meetings Come Back on Your Performance Review?
2:00: Budget a Day Keeps Me Away
3:00: Remembering How to Fix Your Hair 101
4:00: What to do When You’re Wearing the Wrong Sponsor’s Sweats During a Zoom Meeting

In closing, and for some much-needed laughs, I share the story of my family’s favorite creative person: “Weird Al” Yankovic. Stay safe and keep learning.