“What did he mean by that?” A short guide to understanding your college volleyball coach

College volleyball is mentally and physically taxing. It can leave you beaten down or built up. Like I said before, it’s all about perspective. The volleyball players who assume the worst are going to manipulate anything the coach says into something terrible, an insult even. And some, on the other end of the spectrum, make everything sound like rainbows and butterflies. You want to be closer to that side of the spectrum, but not quite that delusional.

For example:

Coach: You need to get there faster.
Negative person: He thinks I’m the slowest person alive! Or worse, the slowest on the team. waaaah!
What he really means: Try to anticipate where the volleyball is headed by watching the other team closer. If you do that, you’ll be able to be in the right spot, at the right time.

Coach: Sub! I’m trying to change something up. It’s nothing you did wrong.
Negative person: Am I cut from the team? Does he hate me? What did I doooo?!
What he really means: I’m trying to change something up. It’s nothing you did wrong.

Coach: Hey you’re really starting to get some good swings!
Negative player: SO… what about all those other swings?? They weren’t good??!!
What he really means: You’re improving. This is a good thing.

I know it’s not groundbreaking and you probably think, “Yeah but my coach really does say negative things. It’s not me.” And to that, I would say, step back and take a second look. Perspective is reality.

5 Ways to Get Through College Volleyball Hell Week

The first week of college volleyball is the worst! But, really, it CAN be the best. Perspective is everything people! The first week (or HELL WEEK), especially if you’re a freshman, is when we separate the women from the girls. Because, as we all know, GIRLS play high school volleyball and WOMEN play college volleyball (same goes for boys and men). I distinctly remember my first week of college volleyball. That was also the week I discovered I’d been diving wrong all those years. Translation: Not only were my muscles sore, I was completely black and blue with plenty of red floor burns.  I avoided stairs for at least a week after that. Not because I’m lazy but because I literally couldn’t bend. But, enough about me, let’s talk about how YOU are gonna get through this week.

  1. Make friends. Remember, while you are out there busting your butt to be the best, so is everyone else. You may be tired and cranky and not wanting to put on a happy face, but now’s when you need a friend the most. Join forces with them. Someone is going to have to saran wrap that ice pack to your shoulder. Plus! Friends can really help support you when you’re having an off day. And that might be just what you needed. Just don’t forget to return the favor.
  2. Ice. It may look like a horse trough but the ice bath can be VERY beneficial and will help tone down the swelling from your shoulder after those 150 swings you took today. Just 10 minutes or so can help. And it’s also a good time to bond with your teammates. All the good players will be in there. TIP: You want to be friends with the good players.
  3. Drink water. I don’t want to hear that lame-o “I can’t drink water when I workout” excuse.  Now’s when you need it the most. Drink more. Even if you aren’t thirsty. The last thing you want to do is cramp up while demo-ing a volleyball drill for the team because you totally rocked it that morning. SO yeah. Drink water.
  4. Stretch. “Stretching is sooo boring.” “I never get tight so I don’t really need to stretch.” “My body will naturally stretch out while I’m playing.” I’m not proud to admit that i have said all of those things. Yes. Stretching is boring. Especially when you play a fun sport like volleyball. You just want to get in there and play! But… unless you want to tear your ACL when you go to SPIKETOWN on the most glorious set you’ve ever seen, ya better get your stretch on! Do dynamic stretches. It looks a bit like an aerobics video from the 80s but it’s more fun. And you can tell your friends you’re “retro stretching” then POOF! it’ll be cool.
  5. Have a positive attitude. It may be miserable but it will end eventually. One of my more favorite quotes “This too shall pass!”  Perspective is reality. If you look at it like something you need to get through. That’s how you’ll see it. That’s how it will be to you. If you look at as “an incredible chance to give all you’ve got and be coached by some pretty amazing coaches who are here for the SOLE PURPOSE of making me better.” Then, that’s how it will be.

There you have it. Danielle’s 5 Ways to Get Through College Volleyball Hell Week. I know my ideas are nothing groundbreaking, but when you’re in it and you sort of lose touch with reality, purpose and who you even are, you forget these simple things that can improve Hell Week for you.

Good luck volleyball MEN and WOMEN, may you all survive and thrive this week, but mostly… BE YOUR AWESOME SELF.

How to pass a volleyball THE RIGHT WAY

I’m a coach again! Well, sort of. I volunteered to coach my 10 year old’s youth YMCA volleyball team. Ok, yeah. That’s officially coaching. It’s just not what I’m used to. A very “everyone gets a medal” sort of style. In my world no one gets medals, even the winners because you should want to win just for the sake of winning and the losers get kicks in the butt. (Just kidding. I’m not THAT competitive. Don’t kick anyone in the butt. Losing is bad enough).

To get to what you’ve ALL BEEN WAITING FOR, here it is: The RIGHT way to pass a volleyball.

I forgot to mention that I’m coaching this team with a friend of mine. I knew there’d be disagreements in style of play, coaching philosophy, really, anything. Not because either of us are right or wrong, but because we are both seasoned volleyball players who have played under different coaches. I wasn’t really surprised when my ASSISTANT coach accused me passing “WRONG.” We keep a steady flow of witty banter so I was in no way bothered by his comment (I’d just accused him of “always being late”).

He had a good point though. And I explained his point the young malleable 10 year old minds that stood before us (Not the minds. The minds weren’t standing. Their bodies were. With the minds in the heads where they belong.)

I’m rambling.

The point. Here it is:

He passes like this:

Volleyball Pass
One hand on top of the other


I pass like this (I call it the Ice Cream Scoop):

Volleyball Pass 2
Make a fist and wrap your hand around it

As I always say in volleyball, to each his own! Both ways are great ways to get perfect passes. Mine has a better name but that’s beside the point. If you try one method and it’s uncomfortable, try the other! We are not all built the same, so we must do some things differently.

However! And this is VERY IMPORTANT (note the all caps), DO NOT interlock your fingers. You’re just asking for an injury. Plus, putting your fingers together and then taking them apart and putting them back together… you just can’t do that in a hurry. Save that form for your prayers! 🙂

In both forms, make sure your thumbs line up side by side. Bring your arms together straight and away from your body.

Your forearms should create a “platform” that is stiff as a board and that’s where the volleyball should contact. Do not use your fists or wrists to hit the ball! You will have NO control. The contact should be about two to 4 inches above the wrists.

Do not swing your arms like they are an elephant trunk and you are pretending to be an elephant. Unless you are in a play of some sort and you are cast as the elephant, this motion is not recommended. Please, just let the volleyball make contact with your forearms. A slight shrug. And you’ll get your desired result.

So, in closing. I wasn’t passing the wrong way. It was just right for me! I mean, if I was passing wrong all these years, who can explain all those perfect passes? huh? HUH?

I rest my case.

If you need more instruction check out this page of videos on passing!