A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Serve up these key values to your athletes: attitude and effort
By Greg Bach
Albert Hannemann knows all about the importance of attitude and effort.
They’ve defined the life of the 18-year professional beach volleyball veteran and founder and CEO of the incredibly popular and growing National Volleyball League (NVL).
And he urges today’s volunteer coaches – of all sports – to strive to instill that all-important combo in their young athletes.
“I tell my kids it’s all about attitude and effort,” says the father of three, who is one of beach volleyball’s most beloved and respected figures. “Kids have to know that the most important thing is trying their best – not just in sports but in everything they do.”
Hannemann founded the NVL in 2010, which stages professional tournaments across the country, from Virginia Beach, Va., to Hermosa Beach, Calif. Each stop also features free youth clinics.
“Beach volleyball is a lifestyle sport,” Hannemann says. “Parents, kids, everyone likes to get outside on the beach. We’re a traveling festival. We like to get the pros in front of all the kids and run free clinics. This sport is different because the pros are so accessible that they’ll come right after the game and meet kids and take pictures and talk to them and you just don’t get that in any other sport.”
POWER OF POSITIVE
Hannemann grew up in Southern California and played a bunch of different sports throughout his childhood before embracing volleyball as a 13-year-old.
It was a sport that changed his life. And now he’s all in on helping impact the lives of others through the sport as well.
“I owe so much to the sport so it makes me feel good to be able to give back and do some things to make the sport bigger and better,” he says.
Part of those efforts include operating the only beach volleyball academy in the U.S. at the NVL’s headquarters in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The impressive facility, which features eight sand courts, provides private education and world-class instruction to players from the U.S. and around the world.
“Being a coach is a serious responsibility,” says Hannemann, who won a national championship at UCLA. “I played for a long time and learned from a lot of great people and I try to share that with the younger coaches we have and just keep trying to pass it down.”
And that message doesn’t revolve around the scoreboard, either. NVL’s pros, and its coaches, are growing the game by focusing on fundamentals and fun and making sure young players learn life skills along the way.
“You can’t push winning,” he says. “That’s the problem with youth sports – it’s all pressure and specialization and win, win, win and kids sometimes get burned out because of the pushing and before you know it they don’t want to keep playing.”
CONNECTING WITH KIDS
Beach volleyball, just like any sport, takes time and practice to learn the fundamentals in order to play, excel and fully enjoy the sport.
“You have to have the fundamentals or you’re never going to be a good player in any sport,” Hannemann says. “What I have noticed is that kids love to compete and play. And when we’re working with them we jump in and play with them – they love that.”
By learning the basics of the sport, coupled with life lessons, kids are being molded into productive players on the sand while also being prepped for real world success.
“I tell my coaches that it’s teaching them how to work with others and making sure that they are doing what they need to do to be a good teammate,” Hannemann says. “And that translates to off the court as well. So we’re more about giving them a positive experience.”
Hannemann relied on hard work and a positive attitude to carve out a successful and long playing career.
Despite losses and setbacks along the way his outlook and dedication never wavered.
He points out that it took him 158 tournaments to capture his first professional title, finally winning the prestigious Hermosa Beach Open in front of family and friends. “It took me that long to win,” he says. “And I remember almost every point.”
He went on to win other events, including a gold medal at the Olympic Festival.
But clearly he’s made his biggest mark growing the sport and influencing young lives in the process: he is the founder of the PlayFIT Foundation that provides children in underserved communities with volleyball equipment, health and nutrition education seminars and college scholarship opportunities; and he volunteers with Big Brothers of Los Angeles and teaches volleyball to children in L.A. and at the Boys and Girls Club of Venice for the Amateur Athletic Union.
“I fell in love with volleyball at 13 years old and now here we are full circle,” he says.
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