Photo By: Hector Alejandro
The best volleyball activities for youth athletes provide both fun and a development of volleyball skills. A combination of the 5 activities below can help your players improve without being overwhelmed at a young age.
- Watching Matches – Many young athletes first get interested in their sport from watching others play it. This is important not just for getting the athletes interested in the sport, but for learning how it is played and what skills are needed. It also allows for a little bit of fun that is so crucial in youth sports training. The athlete should know that they don’t have to be working constantly to improve their game and should be allowed to sit back and watch a match just for entertainment purposes. Additionally, watching a higher level of competition can help motivate the athlete to take their game to another level if they are hoping to achieve the same. You may have a nearby university or high school that could inspire the athlete to work on their game.
- Drill work – Many volleyball players despise drill work, but it is an essential part of the sport. Drill work helps develop the athletes all-around volleyball activities, as it can isolate and target improvement towards each skill individually. By performing this work in drill fashion, they are able to get a significant number of reps in just a short amount of time. It also is less stressful than performing in a match situation.
- Games for Fun – Not every competitive activity has to be taken seriously. If you get creative, you can find volleyball-related games for teams or small groups of players to play together. This allows them to compete without the stress of an actual match. They also get to have a lot of fun, build teamwork, and get a little bit of drill work involved without even realizing it.
- Fitness Training – Developing an athlete’s overall fitness and conditioning ability is important for many reasons, some of which are related to volleyball and some of which aren’t. General fitness is good for the mental and physical well-being of young athletes. It is also important to develop fitness so the athlete is prepared for more intensive training as they progress in their volleyball career. Developing conditioning at a young age can build confidence and lay the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle in adulthood. Strength and conditioning doesn’t need to be intense for kids. An all-around approach, where they work a little bit of running, strength, and agility mixed in practices will do the trick. Mixing in some lower-body strength work is especially important for young females, as they may be at an increased risk of knee injuries.
- Playing Volleyball – This sounds so obvious, but yes actually playing the sport of volleyball is important for young athletes. Whether it is scrimmages or the real thing, this is why volleyball players get into the sport. While drilling, doing conditioning work, and improving skills is important, this is the reason all of that hard work is done.
Using a combination of these volleyball activities for both boys and girls is very important. While drilling and joining a club team to be involved year-round is tempting, make sure the athletes get a good break and a chance to play other sports if they are interested. Early sports specialization can be scary and come with a lot of risks.
The athlete can make great gains in the short-term, but their long term potential may be hindered if they specialize in volleyball too early. Just look at this excerpt from the Huffington Post:
In another study, from 2012, also published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, young male athletes who participated in multiple sports were found to be more physically fit, have better gross motor coordination, more explosive strength, and better speed and agility than those who specialized in a single sport.
While the studied mentioned is specifically about males, it isn’t a stretch to think their could be a similar impact for females. None of this means that your athletes can’t play volleyball at a young age. It just means that it shouldn’t be the only thing they do every day. Let them explore other sports or hobbies and get an occasional break from volleyball activities.