Coaches can use this one tip to motivate their players and increase their enthusiasm for practice. What is this one volleyball coaching tip? It is the self-challenge. A self-challenge is a contest where players compete against themselves to beat their personal best at a particular activity or drill. For example if a player accurately serves six out of ten volleyballs during a serving drill, their self-challenge the next time they participate in that drill to accurately serve more than six out of ten balls.
The power of the self-challenge lies in the fact that it effectively motivates every player on the team. All players do not have the same level of talent, some have more athletic ability, some have solid technique, and some excel at certain volleyball skills but struggle with others. Challenging players to beat their personal best gives everyone of them a realistic goal or target to aim for. Using the serving example again, if a coach decided to set a goal for the entire team to accurately serve five out of ten volleyballs during a serving drill, some players will easily achieve that, some will feel very proud when they reach or exceed that goal, some will come close, and others will not come close to accomplishing that goal. The disparity in skill levels between players creates a challenge when setting goals for players, what is considered an accomplishment for one may not be an appropriate goal for others. Setting a single goal that applies to all players can have negative impacts to motivation and confidence.
The players who do not come close to achieving the goal face the possibility of mentally checking out and losing the motivation to put their best effort in the next time the drill is run resulting in little to no skill development. The players who easily accomplish the goal are not challenged and can become bored also resulting in little to no skill development. The self-challenge solves this issue by having the players compete to beat their personal best and only focusing on outdoing themselves. By aiming to beat their personal best the target or goal is realistic because it is based on past performance, not an arbitrary measure set by the coach, resulting in motivation for all players on the team regardless of skill level.
The self-challenge focuses players attention on being a better volleyball player than they were yesterday. When players beat their personal best they experience a great sense of accomplishment that will increase their drive to improve their volleyball skills and abilities. Players become very aware of the progress they are making and begin to prove to themselves they are capable of getting better with hard work and dedication. The self-challenge builds confidence and also teaches how to handle adversity when players struggle to beat their personal best. Since players are competing against themselves they are forced to reflect on their own effort, technique, and response to adversity. The focus becomes what can I do to be better than my previous best and what steps do I need to take to break through by past accomplishments. The responsibility is solely the player’s to become better, a lesson that will serve them well beyond the volleyball court.