Why the NCAA Championships Are Critical to Growing the Sport of Volleyball

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Sports fans and current or former athletes still have the MLB World Series fresh in our memory, the football bowl season upon us, and the NCAA Basketball "March Madness" around the corner. We all have the opportunity to show our pride and complete our brackets. Cinderella stories, top plays, unique athlete stories are featured to draw spectators in.

For the NCAA Women's Volleyball community, the "Road to the Final 4" is HERE! We have experienced the ever-so-dramatic NCAA Selection show, Conference Championships, and the 1st, 2nd rounds, sweet 16, and elite 8 (of all divisions)...  This means our volleyball athletes have been able to watch, analyze, learn and critique, non-stop volleyball for 3 weeks straight, right? 

WRONG. Youth volleyball players do not spend nearly enough time doing the aforementioned experiences, like our athletic counterpart athletes in the football and basketball communities. And this needs to change.

Here are some reasons why it's important that youth volleyball athletes are exposed to these experiences, and possibly detrimental to our athlete(s) if they are not:

  • Knowledge of the Game/Supplemental Material
    Watching high level volleyball provides supplemental material, observation of unlimited plays, decisions, errors, reactions and a standard of work ethic and execution. Each athlete needs to be capable of making executive decisions while in a game situation without permission from the coach. Seeing the game helps in this area.

  • Learning Vicariously
    Some athletes learn better by watching and all athletes gain information from watching. What our coaches cannot/do not teach can be learned by watching the best.

  • Vision & Reflection
    Players have an opportunity to see both sides of a volleyball court, at one time, which is a very rare opportunity for younger athletes. By watching a match, players can anticipate and predict decisions without the risk of failure. Observing is learning. Without a vision, there is no execution.

  • Comfort
    Seeing skills and movements replicated in masses aids in the level of comfort in an athlete.

  • Confidence
    The more exposure an athlete has to the sport, the greater the confidence level can be, and confidence is a big component of the game that our youth volleyball athletes lack.

  • Exposure to a Variety of Universities
    64 college programs make it to the NCAA Division I Womens Volleyball Championship. That's 64 programs athletes can be exposed to besides the local universities they already know exist. 32 make it to the D2 and D3 Championships. Many young athletes want to play at the next level, you can learn a lot about different institutions through observation.

  • Statistics and Volleyball IQ
    Players can increase their knowledge of the sport, the rules, the history by listening to the professional commentators analyze the play-by-play and talk about the key facts during the match.

  • Role Model
    Players can identify with the collegiate athletes, and have a visual of who they want to strive to be like someday.

  • Competition
    Spectators natually feed off the level of competition and can be inspired by the effort and will to win.

It takes hours outside of the designated practice hours to learn the unlimited amount of knowledge that comes with each sport. Not only does watching high level volleyball impact a player's learning curve in the sport, it also affects the growth of our sport and the future exposure of our sport.

How many football, basketball and baseball players 10-18 know the answers to the following questions?
- Who is Nick Saban?
- Who is the Heizman Trophy Winner?
- How many points did Lebron James score in the NBA Championship game?
- Who won the world series?
* The answer is over ~90% of young male athletes know the answers specific to the sport they love, which is very impressive and awesome.

How many volleyball players 10-18 know the answers to the following questions?
- Who is the Head Coach of the Women's National Team?
- Who won the NCAA DI Volleyball Championship last year?
- Who is John Dunning or Russ Rose?

*The answer is less than ~15%. 

Let's encourage junior volleyball players to watch the NCAA DI Women's Volleyball Championships this Thursday and Saturday. Share the schedule with your teams, families, and friends. Click here for more information. And together we can impact the growth and exposure of our sport

Fight for those who came before you and for those who will come after you. Invest. Commit. Succeed
#experiencethedifference #raisethebar

For more education for junior volleyball coaches click here.

About the Author

Kilee Goetz is the Director of Legends Volleyball Organization at the Legacy Center of Michigan (Brighton Michigan) with satellite locations at Schoolcraft College and Monroe, Michigan. Legends Volleyball Organization is a member of the JVA.

Kilee is presenting at the 2016 AVCA Annual Convention Thursday, December 15th at 3:00PM, Mateflex Court 3. "How to Get More From Your Athletes FASTER: Competitive Culture, Positive Reinforcement, Behavior Modification".


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