As a volleyball coach in New York City, there are some things I always use to make the short amount of time I spend with my team each week as effective as possible. This combination of tools and practices allows me to improve the skills of my players on the court and develop meaningful relationships with them off the court. These are the things I can’t coach without:
Working with kids is pretty crazy in the first place, if I don’t have a game plan it is sheer chaos. It’s always important to have some backup options too. These can be used for extra time or if there is a drill I have planned that just doesn’t work.
Music is crucial for the fun, energetic vibe I want in all my practices. Portable Bluetooth speakers are pretty cheap now and the players love to be able to add songs to our team playlist.
Informal Time Questions
On my walk from the subway to the gym, I think of things I can talk to my players about while they are getting ready for practice. Sometimes I ask about school or family members, but my go-to is to ask them what they had for lunch. It’s an easy question to answer and tells me a little bit about their life. I’ve also had issues with eating disorders in the past, so this helps me know my players are ready to go.
Set Groupings of Players
If my practice plan requires partners or small groups, I make sure to decide them ahead of time. I do what I can to avoid cliques and having a player feel left out. This also allows my players to get to know some teammates they might not usually talk to.
I have a small notebook where I write down all of the drills I use. On the way home from practice, I’ll write which ones went well and how others can be improved. After 5 years of coaching, it has become a gold mine of a resource that makes planning practices really easy.
Alex coaches middle school-aged girls for NYC Juniors. She also works as the Senior Manager of Graphic Design & Social Media at Up2Us Sports.