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.
Olympic swimming great Dana Vollmer, winner of five gold medals, challenges coaches of all youth sports to find the most effective ways to motivate all their young athletes
Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman on empowering and inspiring young athletes
Antonio Pierce, Super Bowl champion and linebackers coach at Arizona State, on pinpointing motives and inspiring young athletes to be their best
Monique Henderson, Olympic track great and college coach, on chasing improvement one fun-filled step at a time