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Super long, but heart felt! Almost put in abusive coach thread but felt it was different topic!
I agree with many of the comments in that thread. But to echo what was already stated in that thread, there is a clear difference between a "tough" coach and an "abusive" and/or "incompetent" coach.
We went into a situation that felt like a "tough" coach situation. We went in with our eyes wide open, yet full of trust and support. As time went on, you start to see trends and warning signs that there are gaps in the program and/or philosophy. However, we talked through this with our DD along the lines described above. I believe we need to teach our kids to come under the authority in their life. Not all authorities do things just right and kids need to learn to bend their will and personal desire to meet the needs of the program and team. We learn from all authority, some show us what to do and others show us what not to do! I get that and understand the importance of parents encouraging their kids to work through these situations as young adults.
However, there are times when a coaches poor leadership skills, knowledge of the game and/or philosophy of teaching/training to compete reaches a level that requires intervention. The question is whether or not parents have the discernment and insight to rightly know the difference and are not simply blinded by the “my DD is amazing” goggles.
The painful reality is finding good, I mean really good vball coaches in high school, is getting very challenging. If you have desires of your DD playing and training at a high level you must venture down the high school road with extreme caution. There are many coaches who refuse to embrace the evolution of the game and how to train and equip a young woman to play for the long haul. Some coaches are putting the reputation of the program above the overall health of the girls with no apparent desire or interest in staying relevant or current in light of new ideas and philosophies. Let me be clear, I do not believe this to be intentional!
Most DD's have several spheres (3+) of play in their life. For example: (1)High School (2)Club (3)Beach (4)High Perf (5)Camps (6) High School Weight Training Programs. The problem is, very few, if any of these spheres interact or communicate with each other about the work load and demand that their individual sphere is placing on our DD. That leaves it to either us ill-equipped parents who are simply good willed but lacking knowledge in such matters or a teen age girl who wants to be everything to everyone and has an err of invincibility to be the one to exercise moderation or restraint. Dangerous combination! The evidence of this is the increased number of injuries we are seeing. Specifically issues directly relating to overuse. We have coaches in high school that are driven to build a program for understandable reasons. To their credit they do a great deal for very little compensation. But in the pursuit of success they create weight training programs that are held during school hours or practice for an unreasonable number of hours. If practice or training is administered poorly or with a flawed philosophy, this will further complicate the issue of overuse. Who oversees this very important process? After everything else your daughter is doing, does your daughter really need to be maxing out or lifting with another DD being the spotter? How can one, or even a few supervisors’ oversee young girls of varying skill levels to ensure safety as they load artificial weight onto their spine, shoulders, knees, hips? Let alone take into account the student athletes extra curricular activities that may be fatiguing the body. How does a teacher or coach discern between a lazy player and one exercising moderation?
Do they know whether or not a girl has practice that night or did the night before? Do they know whether or not there is a 2-3 day tournament over the weekend? Do they know whether or not an injury was sustained at another event? Are coaches in high school quick to jump to conclusions and label a girl as week or to have poor work ethic because she wants to limit her work out for a couple of days? This can easily become a recipe for a season ending, if not career ending/limiting injury at a young age.
In short, I wish high school coaches would stick to "Coaching Volleyball" I am even fine with a volleyball conditioning hour at high school. But how about sticking to basic conditioning / agility / plyo / bands / volleyball related activities like footwork – serve receive – passing – blocking – hitting strategies. Our girl’s bodies are developing in significant ways and we must use their time and talent wisely and with purpose. We need to strategically train both the small and the large muscle groups in a manor best suited for volleyball. I bet if you polled college coaches they would rather a girl be working on these items and leave the development of the body to a highly trained professional who can oversee and manage the higher risk activity with a purpose and plan individually as opposed to a class of 40+. Kind of like choosing whether to eat at Golden Corral or Pita Jungle! Both about the same money!
I also understand there must be a balance between quantity of reps and quality of reps. However, I see the teaching of fundamentals waning in high school. As a basketball coach, I would not tell my boys to shoot 1000 free throws and hope their technique works itself out. I would rather have them shoot 100 and give advice to correct error and improve technique. Even this is not a fair analogy because a basketball player shooting a thousand shots daily will most likely NOT result in injury. However, a volleyball player taking 1000 swings on a regular, long term basis with average to poor technique will often result in pre-mature breakdown.
I simply write this to give parents looking for information and insight, some personal perspective and some idea of what questions to ask when choosing a program. I simply think that in the past, the coach built whatever program he/she felt appropriate and the parents and players just had to deal with it if they wanted to be a part of the program. I fear that talented players are bearing the brunt of the consequences of this type of model. All I really need out of a high school coach is wisdom on personnel management, sound strategy, a little inspiration and vision and some volleyball specific technical training.
Lastly, I believe as parents of teenage girls we must be cautious about what kind of authority we allow to be over them. Girls generally do not mind intense coaching as long it has the appearance of being fair, consistent, impartial and generally free of politics and geared toward them improving their overall performance both as an individual and within a team.
Maybe I am speaking from personal experience and it is not a fair representative of the whole. If so, then I apologize. I just feel that there is more than sufficient reason to at least contemplate building a player’s career without using high school volleyball. If you are a parent whose high school coach does it just right, then you are very blessed and please thank them often! I understand that many wonderful memories, experiences and accolades can come from High School volleyball and I have not reached this position in haste. I also understand the every parent/player will not reach or even agree with this. However, if I try to imagine what I would like as a college coach, I think I would prefer a player to spend that 3.5 months in a specific program geared toward 1 on 1 skill training and physical development in a safe and structured environment and come to my program HEALTHY full of good volleyball! In summary: Not all schools / programs are created equal AND a winning program does not always equate to a healthy program. We as parents are left to find the balance. Hopefully more coaches will strive to create a HEALTHY and SKILLED environment as vigorously as they pursue victories and conditioning. I think when done properly, the success will come! A high school coach’s mantra should be, "train in such a way that I do no harm and take all reasonable precautions". If a player wants more, there is clearly an industry of qualified professionals that can help with that, probably right inside your club or at the finger tips of your club coach.
I only took the time to write as I continue to be amazed at the quality of girls and parents playing this wonderful game!
Last Edited By: DigDug Jan 28 11 1:55 PM. Edited 2 times