The boys side of volleyball is growing and fast! In the last four years it has grown by 12% according to the NSHS.
In Ohio alone, 7 universities have added men's varsity programs in the last 5 years. High schools in Ohio continue to add programs while developmental programs continue to grow as well. The first year we offered the BIVL in Northeast Ohio we had 8 participants. 3 years later we now have over 40 participants across 2 locations!
We hope that the following information can help you either enhance your current program or start a new one. What follows is some insight into what we found works for growth in our area and is built upon the shoulders of those way more experienced than us! Without the thought leadership of people like John Kessel, Pete Hanson, Dr A. Mark Williams, Chris McGown, Joe Trinsey, Daniel Coyle, and others we would not have be able to create the opportunities that we have today. It's through working together that we can all aspire to be greater.
When we first started years ago, we almost canceled due to low registration the week prior to the first session. A close friend, Matt Mihelic, encouraged us to still move forward. Had we not listened to his advice this site/program would not exist today. While we only had 5 registrations to start we grew to 12 by the end of the session. That's 12 boys that had the opportunity to try the sport of volleyball with other boys. Most of those 12 boys are still playing today! The BIVL has been an evolving concept since day 1. Word of mouth spread, we shared ideas with other like minded people, created new partnerships, and most importantly made new friends. You do not need to be big day 1, you just need to start somewhere, make it fun, and be willing to grow.
The first lesson we learned when working to grow the game was about Passion. Without a passion for the game, athletes struggle to stay engaged. Most atheletes develop a passion for particular sports between ages 6 and 13. So if you are working with a High School program that consists of atheletes new to boys volleyball, developing a passion for the sport is just as important as teaching them how to form a good platform. If you are fortunate enough to work with younger athletes, allow to them to enjoy the game! Until the age of 13, athletes need to be able to explore the sport and have fun. If it becomes work at this young age, they will lose interest by age 14. So let them play! Keep the instruction simple, limited, and positive. Contrary to what most parents and coaches think, you can only identify gifted athletes with 10% accuracy below age 12, so coach them all with the same level of enthusiasm.
Educational Psychologist Benjamin Bloom completed extensive research on this topic, you can learn more by reading his book "Developing Talent in Young People".
Our experience has shown that kids ages 10-14 love playing 2v2 in the sand! And they are quite good at it. With little instruction the kids have learned to master the 2v2 beach game. They've done that by PLAYING THE GAME! What we found works is setting up King of the Beach tournaments so all athletes compete with and against each other. This helps balance out the more experienced with the less experienced. It may be ugly at first, but that is the athletes learning. A typical King of the Beach tournament takes 4 hours across 2 courts and supports up to 16 players. We run them once a week all summer long.
In the fall as kids returned to fall sports like football and soccer, coaches asked how the boys got into such great shape. It was all the beach they played all summer. When we talk to parents about giving volleyball a try, we talk about it as a fun conditioning opportunity for their son. Once they experience it, they usually are sold on the sport.
Our sand league starts soon! Sign up now!
Reading! Anything John Kessel! He has a great blog that will challenge your thinking. Highly recommended. Grow the Game blog
Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck. Carol explains in her book why positive coaching is so important to helping students achieve their highest potential. If you are teaching at any level, please read this book.
Above the Line by Urban Meyer. Learn how OSU Football Urban Meyer coach transformed his team's culture. Great advice on how to build a healthy, driven culture in the locker room and at work.
If reading is not your thing, here are 2 great interviews that you should be listening to:
Attend a GMS clinic. The Gold Medal Squared approach is the practical application to volleyball of everything mentioned aboved taught by some of the world's best coaches. You should attend at least once with your entire coaching staff. It's affordable and well worth the money spent.