Coaching Volleyball Magazine October / November 2015 - Page 27

ASSISTANT COACHES COLUMN Assistant Coaches Publications Subcommittee Played Out A few issues ago, we wrote on ways to avoid burnout as a coach. This time out we are discussing ways for you as a coach to protect your athletes from burning out and/or quitting volleyball entirely. Athletes initially play sports because they want to have fun. As they get older, they also want to improve and to compete, but they still want to enjoy playing volleyball. It is a major function of our job to protect our athletes’ passion for the game, teach them to deal with adversity, and to guide them in developing as people. It is often said that you don’t want to be an athlete’s last coach. Obviously someone has to be their last coach, as nobody plays forever. This saying refers to driving an athlete out of the game due to mental and/or physical burnout that could have been avoided if the coach had better balanced the athlete’s experience. Practice and matches certainly don’t need to be all fun and games, but we should be sure that our athletes enjoy their experience, continue to work at their capacity in all tasks, and are inspired to be better every day. We must keep in mind that our players have a lot of requirements and distractions pulling them in several directions and spreading thin their energy and focus. This certainly occurs at the youth levels with athletes basically playing non-stop yearround now. Throw in summer camps and earlier high school preseason training, and many athletes don’t get any time to rest or enjoy just being a regular kid. It occurs more often at the college level when players can experience the perfect storm of classes, homework, study hall, weights/conditioning, rehab/treatments, leadership meetings, volunteering, film review, practice and, of course, their social lives. However, burnout can also occur in professionals. USA Men’s National Team and Russian Mike Gawlik Michigan State Eric Hammond Towson pro league star Matt Anderson temporarily stepping away from the game late last year is a prime example. Some athletes lose their passion to play and improve, and quit due to lack of playing time. This can be hard to avoid, but consistent communication about their role on the team and their current performance is paramount. Others simply aren’t enjoying their experience in their current situation. If possible, encourage this athlete to try another team or organization instead of quitting the sport altogether. In all of these situations it is most certainly not better to burn out than fade away. Below are some strategies to consider: •