Written By: Marc Wilson
“Side out now!”
“Free balls must be perfect.”
“Don’t miss easy serves”
These are all statements that, at times, suffocate the gyms of any volleyball tournament. To me, these types of phrases don’t provide you with enough direction. They are often used as fillers when you feel obligated to say something, or they are simply saying don’t screw up. Now don’t get me wrong, screaming “Let’s Go!!” at the top of your lungs after a massive stuff block has its purpose when firing up your team, so I’m not suggesting you ditch your favorite volleyball catch phrase. But, what I am suggesting, is that a great leader will choose to communicate with “How” statements because they provide a plan.
For example, the classic “Side out now!” doesn’t tell me anything other than it’s important to score a point. You could even argue that now I feel under more pressure because I’ve recognized the importance of the situation. Instead of saying “Side out now!” in the huddle, timeout or on the sideline, why not…
…discuss the tendency of the serve you are about to receive,
…suggest a possible plan of attack to your setter,
…remind your hitters what angles the opposition has been blocking, or
…tell your hitter to try to recycle the ball if a difficult serve results in a highball scenario.
What I’m trying to say is there are so many things that can be said to guide your team through each point, and by doing so you can relieve the pressure of the situation because now you have a plan. This is a difficult thing to do and it is most certainly a trained skill, but if you are looking to become a leader on the court, suggesting how to solve a problem is going to get you much further than just recognizing the problem itself.
The solution to how to solve a problem always becomes easier with knowledge and experience of the scenario. So naturally, time is an element to becoming an amazing leader but what’s important in this learning process is that you ask “why” questions. Don’t spend your time being a sheep doing what you are told without understanding why a specific action produces a specific result. When you are able to understand why things work, you will become more confident in the action. This will then translate to a more effective ability to communicate the plan. Then as you begin to experience what works and what doesn’t, you then become more able to recognize solutions for a given problem.
I’ve never liked the idea of a born leader because it implies that not everyone has access to this title. I’ve lived my life around the idea that with hard work you can accomplish anything, regardless of the athletic gifts you have been given. So far the formula of “how” and “why” has helped me on my journey to become a leader in my sport. So perhaps with a little bit of elbow grease it can help you too.
Currently writing from Czech Republic, Marc is in his third professional season after beginning his career in France’s Pro B division with the long-standing club St. Nazaire. Marc is also very active in the youth communities everywhere he plays, and works with McGill’s summer camps in Montreal during his off-season (and we hope he joins us for Momentum Pro Camps too!).