Serving up a confidence-building tip for young athletes
By Greg Bach
When young volleyball players are struggling with their serves – dumping them into the net or spraying balls all over the place – it’s up to you to resurrect their confidence.
And get them back on track – quickly.
Because when a player’s serve falters their confidence sags and what often follows is negative thoughts begin leaking into other areas of their game.
And that affects your team’s ability to win points.
We checked in with Craig Skinner, the head women’s volleyball coach at the University of Kentucky and a former USA Junior National Team Head Coach, who shares some outstanding advice on what he does with his players to build up serving confidence that you can use with your young athletes, too:
“This is something that we have been using in the gym this season. We had everyone think of the most perfect serve that they have ever served and write it on our dry erase board in the gym. Then they had to come up with a word of one or two syllables that would remind them of that particular serve. Usually, the players came up with the name of the rival or what town they were in when they served it, etc. Once they did their physical and mental routine for serving and started their serving motion they say that word to themselves right before they serve the ball. This way, there is only a positive thought in their mind as they strike the ball.”
Serving can be a pressure-packed experience for a young player since all eyes are on them, and failing to get the ball in play not only affects that child’s confidence but it can also squash a team’s momentum during a match.
So put Skinner’s tip to use during your practices this season to help your players become more confident – and proficient – servers.
Traci Callahan, professional beach volleyball player and youth coach, on the value of providing honest feedback to young players to forge connections, drive development and deliver rewarding seasons
During these unprecedented times coaches still play an all-important role in their young athletes’ lives. Use these tips from well-known psychologist Dr. Peter Scales to stay connected, involved and help players be ready once seasons resume.
University of Iowa women’s volleyball coach Vicki Brown shares how she used visualization during her days as a youth coach to prepare teens for productive practicing
Volunteer youth coach of several sports on recognizing each young athlete's learning style and treating everyone with that all-important respect