The first practice sessions should be designed to review individual skills and drills for basic play. Conducting the first practice sessions often proves to be the most difficult task the coach encounters during the year. It is during these early sessions, that the coach begins to look for those experienced players who are already possess a high level of skill and game ability and for those players whom the coach feels have the greatest skill potential and coach ability. However, a prudent coach will develop a sound method to select his/her players while keeping in mind that no two players develop at the same pace physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Evaluating Individual Skills
Evaluating the skills of an individual is a difficult task particularly in a team sport where it is initially difficult to determine an individual’s effectiveness as part of a team. Possibly the best method of evaluating individual skills is a simple estimation of each candidate’s skills on a coach-designed checklist. Another series of tests of basic athletic ability could also be given. For example, that can be a jump and reach test.
Evaluating an Individual’s Game Ability
Once an individual’s fundamental skills are evaluated, a coach should evaluate athlete’s ability to combine his skills with the game sense, and competitive drive for effective team effort. The athlete must be viewed in relation to his teammates and her teammates evaluated in relation to the individual athlete.
Squad and Team Organization
Before the final selection of players is made, the coach must decide whether he will organize a distinct team or teams, or a single squad. The squad or teams should be selected, if possible, at least two weeks and no later than five practices before the first game. This will give the coach time to work with these groups and formulate a team. It is important that the players in each group work and scrimmage together so that they can play as a team in the next match.
The selection of a squad is easier initially but demands more time and effort on the part of the coach throughout the season. The flexibility offered by the squad arrangement generally produces the best competitive results.
Combining individuals for team play is a very difficult decision for any coach. For junior high volleyball teams, all players should receive instruction in all the skills. Later, as the coach and players become more familiar with each other, certain players will acquire specific duties and player positions.
A setter must possess all the game skills and display intelligence and game sense as well as complete knowledge of what the coach wishes to accomplish. The setter must have quick feet and body agility in order to position herself in proper position to receive the pass and then set the ball to a hitter. Body balance and body position related to the hitter are important factors for a proper set to occur.
Spikers and blockers are frequently physically tall with a strong jumping ability. The success of the spike is dependent upon timing, precision, and direction of the force imparted to the ball. Good blockers must be able to read the setter’s set and react. A blocker takes pride in her ability to stop the other team’s attack.
There are two different methods to compose a team. The coach has a choice of: (1) choosing team tactics to suit the players, or (2) choosing players to suit the team tactics. In most cases, only the first option is possible since the coach must choose his team from a specific group of players. This means that a coach must compromise between his ideals as a coach for the capabilities of the players.
To compose a team, a coach ideally needs tall and mobile players. However, on a junior high school team, there are never enough tall and skillful players to pass the ball, to forcefully spike a ball, and to excel in back court play. A coach has to form his team out of players with different physical, emotional and social abilities. A coach must take this diverse group of athletes and choose an optimal team system that puts each player in a position to have some form of success.