This is the Fervid Phase, also nicknamed the “Dedication Stage”. The overall goals for this age are to strengthen the foundation of an athletes’ volleyball skills, both mental and physical. During this phase, the development of individual skills and execution, and individual, group, and team tactics are important.
This is a critical time in the player’s development. This is generally the largest group involved in club volleyball. Many players believe the only way to solidify and elevate their position on their high school team is to participate in a club program. Players at this age still tend to lack mental toughness and self-confidence. They tend to be self-critical and struggle with their desire to be competitive or the need to be more competitive. There is a need for attention and security. A great focus on team spirit, gym culture, leadership and discipline should be fostered within the team.
Coach Description, Requirements and Role
An ideal 16U Coach is a teacher; charismatic; experienced; knowledgeable; articulate; disciplinarian; managerial know how; thoughtful persuader. Understands the ebb and flow of a match, when to call a timeout and when to make substitutions to slow the game down if needed. A coach for this age should have the ability to show the athletes that it’s OK to be aggressive and express emotion. It is critical for the coach to be able to develop the mental part of the game.
A 16U Coach at an elite level should understand what it takes to play at the collegiate level, as well as the college programs in your part of the country that compete in each division (D1, DII, DIII, NAIA, Junior College). The coach needs to understand the importance of connecting the athlete with interested college programs, answering calls or texts from college coaches and helping the athlete through the recruiting process when needed.
Team Systems Development
Clearly defined team tactics, team play within the system is essential. You must still focus a great deal of time on individual skill development using correct techniques. However, team tactics become a priority at this age. Strive to use all of your attackers, with different tempo sets. Set team goals for hitting percentage, service aces, digs, and attacks out of transition. Encourage aggressive play. Team results become even more important, but need to be balanced with individual and team development.
- Recommended Systems
- Serve Receive – 2 or 3 Person Serve Receive
- Offense – 5-1/ 6-2
- Defense – Perimeter and Rotation (focus on holding the base position and reading the pass/set)
Important Characteristic to focus on:
- Increased concentration
- Leadership/player responsibility
- Respect for the game
- Goal setting
- Accountability; understanding how to hold oneself and others accountable
- Vary Program- Satisfy player’s urge for competition
- Establish pre-practice and pre-game routine (as individuals and team)
- Encourage players/teams to watch college and national team volleyball on TV
Strength and Agility Development
It is recommended to do all fitness work with the ball (during practice) and without the ball (prior to/after practice).
- Flexibility – Static stretching after training/matches. Start working injury prevention stretching.
- Dynamic Flexibility – Partner stretching. Start working injury prevention stretching.
- Importance of discipline for warm-up, cool-down and the “First 10 minutes” of practice.
- Agility – With and without the ball.
- Footwork – Keeping the feet active when moving/playing.
- Endurance – Aerobic and anaerobic.
- Strength – Upper and lower body; core strength and stability.
- Nutrition – Proper diet – pre-game, post-game, tournaments, etc.
- Prevention and care of injuries.
*Stress the importance of rest/recovery – schedule issues relative to the physical demands.