Advice for young players

I found out today that some of the guys from the Under 17 indoor team that I have been coaching are playing in an inter school beach volleyball tournament tomorrow.

Summer has really only just started here, so I have not had much time to work with the guys on the beach. As I rode my bike home from training tonight, I found myself thinking, If I get 10 minutes to talk to the boys before they start playing tomorrow, what would I tell them?

Firstly, I am making a few assumptions about the standard of competition: I am pretty sure there will be a lot of young players who are fairly inexperienced. The skill level will be “junior regional” so there will probably be quite a high percentage of free balls being bumped back over when play breaks down. I am guessing that my guys will be amongst the better players.

So here’s what I came up with:

1. Setting: Focus hard on setting. It’s most situations it’s the most important contact.

2. Keep the ball in play: If you get a great set, hit it!, or try to play a perfect shot. If it’s not so great, play an easier ball to a zone, (I.e. line corner, diagonal corner or cut shot). It doesn’t need to be a great shot, just safe, loopy, and close to a corner or line. If you make your opponent play the ball and force him/her to move a bit, there is a good chance of an error, or a bad dig. If they make a good dig, there is still a good chance that you will find another way to win the point.

3. Free ball target: Before each match, choose a target. The weakest attacker. If you need to put an easy ball over the net, then make sure it goes to the target.

4. Have a plan: Before each match, make a plan. Choose your service target, and decide where you want to make points. (E.g. block his cross court hit or dig his line shot). Confirm, or change the plan before every point. Keep talking to each other about what it is you are trying to do.

That’s about enough to start with. Keep it simple, but always have a plan.