As a volleyball athlete and coach, I have seen numerous situations when teams who are leading a game or a match become complacent allowing the momentum to shift to the opponent. This is by far, the worst way to lose because the win was almost in the palm of your hand.
I’m sure we have all seen teams come back from incredible odds. I remember one of our teams being down 14 to 1, (side out scoring) and they came back and won the game 16-14. Our team was ecstatic, while the other team was understandably devastated. So the game is not over until the end and players and coaches need to stay focused, determined and always respectful of the opponent.
So how can we close out a win when scoring a series of points and leading in volleyball? As an athlete, the person needs to pick up the pace. Get the ball quickly back to your server so that the opposing team does not have time to regroup. Get into your position fast! Don’t make conversation with your teammates or make insulting comments to the other team. That will just fire them up, and you don’t want a team running on emotion against you.
If your team is serving, focus on the other team and where the ball is going on offense. Hit your defensive positions early and be ready to move! Don’t let any ball hit the floor unless you also hit the floor trying to dig it. If you are receiving, make sure you watch the server’s hand on contact and be ready to move to the ball to get your offense going with a good pass. Also, keep your teammates fired up and focused. Don’t let their minds wander off, just because you are ahead.
A coach needs to keep his team on task, and also not settle for mediocre play from his athletes. Also, a coach should never substitute his whole team out when leading a match. That only puts pressure on the athletes going in because there is no one to lead them. Also, coaches need to put players in situations when they can be successful. I’ve seen many coaches make poor choices in game substitutions and end up not only losing the game, but also having both the athletes and parents mad at them.
This bottom line is to keep up the intensity! If you let it go, the other team will pick it up and use it against you.
Sharkie Zartman is a former All-American volleyball athlete and award winning college and youth club coach. She is currently a professor at El Camino College, a radio host at Healthy Life .Net Radio, and the author of five books. Visit her new book site at www.soyouthinkyoucancoachkids.com and also check out her Facebook page, Sharkie’s Pep Talk.