"Go" side, "left" side, "strong" side, "power" side, just a few of the many nicknames for an outside hitter. Typically at tryouts you will see this position have the most number of players in contention, and for good reason. The outside spot plays an essential role in your team's system. Ideally they will play all-around, are one of your top attackers and serve receivers, and act as the safety net for most broken plays. On a broad note, this is a good summary to answer the question of "Why is an outside hitter so important?". Let's dig in a little deeper to see what the finer details are!
The other half of Boston University’s top tier outside hitting duo, Alana King is the youngest of three volleyball siblings. From my own hometown of Newton, MA, I have known Alana since she was in middle school. By then, Alana was already a few years into her volleyball career. Starting when she was 9 years old, she first got an interest in the sport through her older sister Becca who was playing for the Newton North High School team. Alana would tag along with her parents to watch her sister’s games, “decked out in black and orange”, and had an immediate interest in the sport. She first learned from her sister and by playing in the Mass Pats club program. She continued into the Newton North program, just like Becca and her other sibling David, and saw a great amount of action right from her freshman year. During her senior year of high school I remember asking her what schools she was considering, with the hopes of pushing her towards Northeastern so I would not have to deal with playing against her, but unfortunately for me she went to my alma mater of Boston University and is having huge success there. Outside of volleyball, Alana is following in her mother’s footsteps as a computer science major. She is also involved in BU Greek Life as a sister of the Kappa Delta sorority, big into food, and watches a fair amount of HBO shows (quoted as “I’m not really that interesting” but no Alana, that’s really fun). I sat down with Alana this past thanksgiving week to chat about volleyball, check it out below!
One of the best outside hitters playing in the NWCVL right now, and arguably one of the best volleyball players around Boston, Alex Braverman is the current president for the Boston University Women’s Club Volleyball program. As someone my own team plays against almost every tournament, Alex has done her fair share in giving me grey hairs. A player with an all-around skill set and an incredible ability to power swing to any part of the court, she is the type of player you love to have but hate to play against. Alex is from Sudbury, MA. She got her start in 7th grade, when her dad Michael (who is an incredible athlete in his own right) grabbed a volleyball lying around the garage and started tossing it to her. After that, Alex just got better and better. She has played for Lincoln Sudbury High School, CMASS Juniors, SMASH Volleyball, and spent one year at Whitman College before transferring to Boston University. In high school, Alex was selected as an All-Scholastic player and a Mass All-Star. I sat down with Alex during a tournament at UMASS Amherst, where her BU team (unfortunately) downed my Northeastern squad in the final match, to ask her a few questions. Check them out below!
A coach's worst nightmare. You have all the talent you need to make a successful team, but player personalities start clashing and the chemistry kills the skill. Knowing how to manage different personalities as a coach is essential into building a great team. It can be the most difficult part of coaching by far, and takes a ton of practice. Follow these guidelines to make sure every player you coach can benefit from your leadership!
The player and coach relationship is a very special one. When it works, the relationship is a two way street where both coach and player work together every step of the way to achieve the same goal. While the benchmarks and end goal should ideally be the same for both sides, the differences between playing volleyball and coaching volleyball are in the approach to each step. For players just making the switch to coaching, the adjustment can be hard to grasp at first but make complete sense once they are laid out.
Tryouts are an exciting time of the season. Full of expectations and high hopes for the upcoming season, with the added thrill of seeing what new talent shows up to play this year. With so many bodies moving around on the court, tryouts can get very chaotic. The risk of injuries, drills ineffective at showcasing skills, or being distracted while a skilled player performs well are all things that can hurt your team in the long run. In order to minimize these risks, here are some suggestions as the best way to structure a volleyball tryout:
For a lot of coaches, a big challenge coming into the season is that their returning players begin the season out of shape. A main reason why athletes do not get the proper exercise they need during the offseason is a lack of location to train. Gym access is not always an option for players, especially if money is an issue. Luckily, Boston has a great selection of free outdoor spots athletes can go to to train for the upcoming season. Here are some of the best places for volleyball training around Boston:
I woke up Saturday morning at 6:00am. Its almost winter so the sky was still dark and the air was freezing. I took a few minutes to muster the courage to leave the warmth of my bed. A deep breath, exhale, one quick motion and WHOOSH the blanket is off. Cold air invades the space between my clothing and skin. My bare feet hit the frigid hardwood floor. Soon I will be on the road with the team I coach, Northeastern Women's Club Volleyball, to compete for a first place finish. If all goes well, I'll be home late. I started coaching my sophomore year of high school. I am 24 now. After 10 years I still get asked why I do it. A young guy with a good job, long time girlfriend, living in a bar-infested area of Boston with five of my oldest and best friends, why do I sacrifice so many weekends to coach a sport that holds barely any merit in the northeast and pays next to nothing? All fair points, ones I have contemplated as well. After a decade I finally feel I can answer. Here is the reason why I coach volleyball.
Basketball and volleyball are two of the most popular sports in the world. Athletes that play either sport often wonder if there are ways to train during the offseason outside the traditional practice of lifting, cardio, and drills. One of the most stimulating ways to train for your sport during the offseason is to play another sport that shares the same skill set! In the states, the popularity and coverage of basketball is much more extensive than volleyball. Due to the difference in coverage, many Americans are surprised to hear that the two sports share many similar traits. How are basketball and volleyball alike you may ask? Lets dive into a few similarities!
There are a few main systems that volleyball coaches will implement for their team. There is a 4-2 system, also known as front row setting, where the setter is positioned in the right front area and sets two front row hitters. There is a 6-2 system, also known as back row setting, where the setter is positioned in the right back area and sets three front row hitters. There is also the 5-1 system, which is a hybrid of the other two. The setter is the only setter on the court, and will be positioned in the front or back row depending on what rotation they are in. While each system is effective in its own ways, the 5-1 is favored among many coaches for its tendency to breed consistency and provide two different offensive looks to keep defenses on their toes. Despite its popularity, the 5-1 is definitely not suitable for every team. Before you decide to commit to this, ask yourself "Should I run a 5-1 with MY volleyball team?" Let's consider a few things before you say yes!