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Achieving Versus Over-Achieving – Volleyball 4.0

With the New Year here, I wanted to express one of my New Year’s Resolutions.  I probably should be working on CoachRey.org website, but I learned that I had to delete all the work put in last week and reinstall, so I’m a little discouraged at the moment.  My mind is wandering…

Quite a few Prospective Student Athletes (PSA) at Winthrop have been sending in their athletic resumes, in hopes of playing volleyball at Winthrop.  Standard information on athletic resumes includes the PSA’s high school GPA.  Recently, I saw a 5.2 GPA and have come to realize that GPAs over 4.0 are now common.  Fortunately, Winthrop’s GPA standards are not quite as stringent as some schools like the Ivy Leagues, Northwestern, Georgia Tech,  Stanford, etc. and we are able to admit many PSAs.  But it makes me question when was a 4.0 considered “not good enough”?  Quite honestly, the GPA scale has gone rampant at many high schools with AP Classes, IB Classes or high school students attending local college classes.  As a college coach, it is difficult to keep up with the different high school’s criteria and scales across the country.  Quite honestly, I’m a bit confused.  What happened to the 4.0 scale?

I’ve watch too many club players completely swamped with school work at club tournaments and their daily schedules are completely booked throughout the week.  These players are losing valuable life skills, such as creativity, balance, and time to be a kid.  We have become a society where achieving (which means to reach your goal) is not enough.  We now must over-achieve.  It is teaching our kids that if we “only” achieve, we are failing.  As coaches, we get players in the gym that are perfectionists because of this over-achieving syndrome and they are never satisfied.  From a coach perspective, this may sound ideal (a player that will never stop working), but it is crushing these players.  They may be great for a short period, but they eventually spiral until we catch them.  We then set them back up, they achieve, then over-achieve, and spiral again.  It’s a vicious cycle.

It was interesting to listen to Hugh McCutcheon, USA Volleyball Women’s National Team Coach, talk about the challenges he faced with the Women’s Team.  One challenge he mentioned was teaching his players how to fail.  Yes, to fail.  One simple mistake a player made crushed their own psyche, and he witnessed a great player spiral into becoming a good player.  Something Hugh mentioned stuck with me about working with these athletes.  He tells his players, “It is ok to fail; we won’t let you be a failure”.  Hugh is cultivating an environment of risk taking for the players, but with the safety net of the coach.  One could argue, a player is diverting accountability for negative actions to the coaches, but I think this is the first step in the growing process.  Accountability can be step 2 😉

Admittedly, as a coach, I’ve fallen into a similar trap as these players that has caused me to over-achieve.  I’ve come to the realization that I have lost my own sense of balance.  I happened to run into Erich Hinterstocker at this past AVCA Convention.  Erich is the ex-Head Coach of a very successful North Dakota State University Volleyball Team.  I believe the season before he stopped coaching, his team was undefeated in conference and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the third season in a row.  Midway through his last season of coaching, he quit.  His over-achieving burned him out.  Erich is now working for Scoutware (a recruiting software company), has normal working hours where he can spend time with his family on the weekends, and is happy.  I asked him when he was going to get back into coaching, of which he replied, “I’m not…ever”.  He’s happy now.  I’m glad he found his peace and balance, but the volleyball coaching world has lost a great coach.

I am not close to burnout, but I believe I have come to a point in my collegiate coaching career (5 seasons) that I can meaningfully reflect and reevaluate.  Thus one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to be satisfied with Achieving and not feel the impulse to Over-Achieve.  Even as I type this, I feel as if I need to add explanations about why I am not going to “over-achieve”.  I feel as if I may be failing or as if another team will pass me up.  But the realization is that I have started to lose balance in my life.  I am starting to become less creative.  The things I have done in the past, be it through my marketing career, or visiting with friends, or going to church regularly, or going to concerts, or traveling for a purpose other than volleyball, are key contributors to my creativeness (I believe one of my strengths).  I need this balance back in my life.

It is my belief, just as it is Terry Pettit’s, that multi-sport athletes are more valuable volleyball players because they learn from a variety of stimuli that positively contributes on the volleyball court.  I need to be that “multi-sport coach” that is learning from life.  Ironically, my motto is “Teaching Life Lessons Through Volleyball”.

So now that it is 10:30pm on a Sunday night, I’m going to stop over-achieving with my volleyball blog and start achieving with creativity.  I’m going to be satisfied with a 4.0 on a 4.0 scale.  The next chapter: Volleyball 4.0.

One comment

  1. Hi Coach Rey,

    Love this article, please keep it coming. Thanks.

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