A Great Day
Took the team down to Stevens Institute of Technology yesterday. I mentioned in my previous blog how excited I was to make this trip after a great first 3 weeks of spring practice. What a great trip it was!
Priska and I went in with 5 set lineups that we cycled through twice. We were playing to win, but the lineups were more about seeing different combinations play together and providing an opportunity for each player to showcase herself in different roles. Everyone played very well over the course of the day. Everyone had bursts of Outstanding throughout the day. And 1 major component stuck out:
We’ve really become a true team. Court communication was as strong as it’s been in years. Priska and I have been pushing them to “say what you see” while play is going on. That it’s ok to say the wrong thing, for that tells us what they’re “seeing” and an ability to them teach them where a better place to look is. This is easy to do in the comforts of our practice gym. We wondered what would happen outside the comfort of our practice. Well? We had it from start to finish. And another way our court communication greatly improved is in communication between teammates. We’ve removed the vague words of “help”, “go”, and “c’mon” with specific words such as names. Our setter is no longer yelling “help” when she can’t get to a pass. She’s yelling “(enter name here)”, giving a teammate a specific instruction which prevents hesitation and uncertainty. Same is true in serve receive, on defense, and the back row telling the front row what’s open while she’s going to the ball. TRUE TEAM PLAY!
There were times we missed hitter coverage assignments, and the hitter got blocked, only to turn and implore her teammates to have her back. Wonderful! That’s being a good teammate! If a person was out of position on defense, a teammate told her where to be. Again, this is great! It’s about specific, clear, task oriented dialogue in a competitive setting and challenging each other to pursue excellence. We’re not worried about hurting feelings or stepping on toes. We’re playing together and communicating together all in an effort to give ourselves the best chance to score points and win games.
What is the root of this change for the better? The effort the team is making off the court to spend more time together, get to know each other on a deeper level, learn to truly understand each other, so perspective is always kept regardless of the tone or environment. Recently they went as a group to play laser tag. It was fun, but even better allowed them to connect in a different type of competitive environment. And as they are reaping the benefits, they are motivated to share these activities more frequently.
Just last week, our team participated in College Clean-Up Day, picking up trash outside the grounds of the Athletic & Wellness Center. Probably not as much fun as laser tag, but another way to get together in a different way, work together, and accomplish a task.
I’m really proud of our team. I’m really proud of each person individually with the effort they’ve made. And I’m really upset we only have 4 days left! We will make the most of it, continue to become closer, and reap those benefits for life.