Coaching Volleyball Magazine October / November 2015 - Page 27
ASSISTANT COACHES COLUMN
Assistant Coaches Publications Subcommittee
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
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
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: