Coaching sports & life

In preparation for the upcoming volleyball season, I spent some time jotting down some core values and practices I want my players and their parents to know so that they understand my expectations of them. But when I looked at what I had written, I realized that these are simply good values and practices for life in general.

There’s something helpful about thinking through what success looks like in a smaller corner of our lives (like coaching volleyball) to see how the basic principles leading to success in that area apply to the rest of life.

Here’s what I wrote about volleyball:

My goal is for the players to become a team, learn and improve volleyball skills, have fun, and win games by using my TEAM (Talk, Engage, Accept, Move) approach to sports and life.

Value: Talk
Silence is deadly. It isolates. It requires guessing and mind-reading which none of us are good at. So, we call every ball we’re going to play and for every ball we would like to play. If we win the point, we celebrate it and the players who won it. If we lose the point, we lift each other up and prepare for the next point.
Practice: We communicate & celebrate

Value: Engage
Distraction is deadly. Our bodies and minds must be fully engaged in what we are doing right now. We see the ball, not the crowd. We hear our coach and teammates, not the noise around us. We quiet the noise inside us by being here and here alone. We think about what’s going on on the court, not on social media, not at home, not at school.
Practice: We are fully focused

Value: Accept
Getting down is deadly. We all will make mistakes. Our teammates will make mistakes. Our coach will make mistakes. Referees and line judges will make mistakes. Opposing teams will make brilliant and unexpected plays. But we cannot control what others do or what has happened already. We accept what has been done and we move on. The past is the past. There’s another point to be played.
Practice: We win the next point

Value: Move
Standing still is deadly. As the ball moves around the court, we adjust to it, putting ourselves in the best positions to defend against attack and to prepare to attack the other team ourselves. We expect to move our feet constantly, moving toward the ball, rather than expecting the ball to come to us.
Practice: We adjust to every touch

It’s amazing how helpful living by these simple values and practices would be for me and others. We don’t communicate nearly enough and we especially don’t celebrate success or lift each other up after failures. We don’t maintain focused engagement, letting ourselves get sucked into distractions and listening to the noise around us, seeking approval from the crowd. We don’t accept failure and move on very well, replaying not only our mistakes but those of our parents and friends and others, refusing to move on and get over them. And we stand still far too often, refusing to change and expecting things to drop in our hands instead of taking the necessary steps to position ourselves for what’s coming our way.

I hope these four values and practices help you clarify some things for you in your life as they have for me.

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