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Volleyball at the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics started this week and I am always inspired by the performances of all athletes at the games. To be the best in their country is awesome. I enjoy cheering on the underdogs as much as a dominant performance by the USA. I get such a sense of pride and loyalty for the USA at every Olympics. I am so proud to be an American.

I just finished watching the ever-so-graceful couples figure skating competition and am in awe of their perfect synchronization, especially with their great spinning leaps. To an untrained eye, like my own, I haven’t a clue why one performance is that much better than another. Judging these events must be so difficult, except in the case of an obvious blunder. The skaters’ quest for perfection of every movement on the ice must take hours of practice and great discipline. The skaters cannot let a leg fall too soon, an arm raise too high, or a twist-or-turn come too soon or too late. The most discipline team will earn the gold medal.

Great volleyball is also ever-so-graceful. As a coach, with a trained eye, it was beautiful to watch the synchronized movements of Team USA Men and Women on the court in the Summer Olympics. The flow of the bodies, back-and-forth, in unison before every ball contact was amazing and inspiring. It made me think, “What if a volleyball competition had judges?”. A team to 25 points would only count for 50% of the total score. 25% would then come from style and another 25% by positioning on the court. (Freestyle mogul skiing is scored in this way, time + jump style + a skier’s posture). What would our team earn from the judges? Think about it.

Here are ways a judge could deduct points, if one of the six players on the court does not:

  • Cover with their body low to the floor, with arms extended, looking at the block, and have intention to make a play,
  • Transition completely and quickly to their approach point, in a ready posture,
  • Make a base-to-read movement from the sideline into the court, in a defensive posture, stopped on hitter contact, weight forward, hands out in front,
  • Bunched and loaded while blocking, in a balanced posture, with the hands-up and out in front of the body,
  • Perform any skill with the precise movement, such as a hitter with an incorrect approach or no snap of their wrist, or a setter that does not get square, or a passer that does not shift their weight through the ball, etc.

There can be literally hundreds of variables that a team must perform during each point!

The only way to earn the gold medal is to make sure that all six players always make the proper movements. Volleyball, in a sense, is just like figure skating or synchronized swimming. Every person must perform their role precisely in order for the team to earn the gold. It is not about whether or not you touch the volleyball, but exactly where you are and the posture you are in throughout an entire point.

Every point that a judge can deduct from us is an opportunity for an opponent to score! Don’t let the judges deduct a point from us!

Wouldn’t it be nice if indoor volleyball were played at the Winter Olympics and outdoor Volleyball at the Summer Olympics?  It would be pretty cool if we had a couple cross over athletes that participated in both indoor and outdoor events.

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