Whoah! It’s mid August! July and August have been a huge whirlwind of emotions, hard work, life lessons, travel, and tons of beach volleyball! I got back to Austin on Friday and hopped right into my last school season of indoor yesterday. On my flight home I had some great time for self reflection. It was a very surreal feeling knowing that my next trip back to California would be moving there permanently! One thing was clear: I have to do everything I can in my spare time to prepare for next summer’s beach season.
I started making a list that I titled, “2012 Summer Take Aways.” It covered concepts I needed to emphasize within my own game, goals of mine to improve my style of play, and skills that I wanted to improve on that I would use to shape my off season workouts. While some may think it is a random list, I feel that it is something I will refer to between now and next season. The list included the following:
#1 Fitness: This will always be an emphasis and is key to be able to compete. Just playing volley is not enough. My goals here are pretty basic…quicker, more explosive, stronger, and to take care of my shoulder.
#2 Being an equally good defender as I am a primary blocker: This will probably be one of the toughest things for me to accomplish. I have spent lots of hours on a skill that set me apart from my peers in California, pulling off the net! However, I have also realized that I want to be able to play with any sort of player and feel like I can be successful. Looking into the future, it will only help me and make me that much better of a partner to be able to do both.
#3 Becoming more of a power player: At the higher level, I have found that establishing a power game early on makes people respect it and leads to my finesse game opening up. While I love to make shots, it doesn’t work at a high level unless opponents respect my power game.
#4 Movement without the ball: Have you ever thought about the amount of time spent touching a volleyball in comparison to not touching it during a match? It pretty gnarly what small percentage it really is! Keeping this in mind, movement without the ball is almost more important than with the ball. With this being said, I have a few points I will keep in mind through the off season and movement without the ball will be a focus for me.
“No time to have lunch”: If anybody watched the Olympics, Misty May is the best example for this idea. It’s pretty simple really…How quick can I get up once I am down? If May dives, she is up ready to hit the set from Walsh before the set goes up.
How quick can I get to POI (point of intersection)?: Essentially this is how quick during a play can I get back to base as a blocker or defender.
Land and get off net: As a blocker, how quick can I track the ball, get off the net, face my target and make a set. How good can I be setting a dig that is 20 feet off the net? I want to be great at this! The transition game is so important and is crucial at high levels.
#5 Movement with the ball: While moving without the ball is crucial…so is the actual touch on the ball. There are a few things that I took note of that I like to refer to mentally when there is a skill I’m struggling with:
Passing, digging, setting: Stay on the ball as long as possible! This concept works extremely well when playing with the FIVB ball because it is so hard to control. Emphasizing the idea of making calm contact with the ball helps imporve accuracy and control.
Setting: “Draw line early”. Get body to the ball quick, and draw the line for the set early to ensure accuracy. When this idea is over exaggerated it helps tremendously in windy conditions.
Passing and digging: “CHEST UP! See your hands!”. When these 2 ideas are done, success happens for me. The minute I get into a passing slump, I think about keeping my chest up and lifting the ball. When playing defense, if you can see your hands, good things happen (overhand digging, platform digging, diving, etc.).
I am looking forward to taking these points and using them as a guide in pretty much everything I do in preparation for next season. This past summer was incredible and I am so thankful for the opportunities I had. I cannot wait to continue from where I left off. More importantly, I am ready to work now!
Thanks for all the support! GO USA!