Growing Together

Author: John Kessel

USAV Director of Sport Development

Around the world, parents want to help their children improve – academically, socially and athletically.

No matter where parents and players are in their volleyball journeys, there are four basic gifts parents can give their children that will help them grow as athletes and people.

The Gift of Play

Parents can create a new tradition of playing without coaching by engaging in spontaneous play.

The best way to do this? Install a net in your yard and let neighborhood kids play. Or, get a portable net and take it to the park to play with your child. 2019 USAV Hall of Fame inductee Misty May-Treanor played with her dad for years as a youngster, as did Karch Kiraly with his father.

Oftentimes, improving volleyball skills is related to the number of “game-like contacts per hour” your child gets. Extra, spontaneous play gifts thousands of these key contacts every season. Another way to increase game-like contacts is through doubles play, which helps athletes become more well-rounded players by working on their weaknesses. It’s a gift of repetition.

The Gift of Struggle

Parents who don’t want to see their children struggle have two choices: keep them out of the sport or don’t go to their practices or matches. And neither of these choices are ideal.

By letting your child struggle, they learn to solve their own problems.

When athletes err, the best solution is not to have them look to their coach for an answer but instead confidently look for the next opportunity to succeed.

Because a large percentage of the game is mental, parents can help their children by working on mental strength and endurance. Help them focus on their successes, reward your child and focus on helping them in the two areas they can control: attitude and effort.

The Gift of a Lifetime Sport

Volleyball is played in more than 200 countries across the world. Travel the globe and you can jump in on hard or beach courts and play with the locals. You may not speak their language, but if you know how to play the game, volleyball is the same in every language.

USA Volleyball offers national championships starting at the 11U level, progressing thru 18U, then numerous adult divisions. There are even adult competitive divisions for those over 75. Volleyball is truly a lifetime sport.

The Gift of Support

Your support, patience, passion and praise – regardless of the outcome of games – is vital. If you don’t show confidence in your child, how do you expect them to be confident in themselves?

Support can be shown through words, actions and even body language. Volleyball takes a long time to learn, and mistakes are going to happen. Just relax and focus on what your child is doing well.

Volleyball is your time to be an unconditionally loving parent. If your child’s coach is giving instruction on the court and you’re doing the same at home, your child may not feel like he or she has a safe place to go, and may eventually tune you both out.

But, if you are unconditionally supportive – win or lose, success or failure – then your child not only values your relationship more, but you help them build confidence and personal strength. Provide unwavering support and allow coaches to guide your child’s athletic performance, working in concert to help your child improve each day, both on and off the court.

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Expert advice from our coaches and players designed to drive team and individual performance.