This is the Evolutionary Stage, when players are continuing to mature and strengthen all areas of their game. The overall goals for this age are to develop a higher volleyball IQ by understanding the disciplines of offense and defense. Athletes should be pushed outside of their comfort zones to achieve a higher level of work ethic and learn to compete at a higher level, while understanding that the overall team success is as important as individual success.
During this stage, athletes begin to understand more advanced concepts and are continuing to adjust to the demands of playing at a faster pace. Players continue to evolve in physical and mental maturation. This is the stage where some players accelerate in their abilities and begin to truly stand out. Awareness of tactics within the game becomes an important facet of the learning process as well. Players tend to be self-critical and rebellious, but show a strong commitment to the team.
Coach Description, Requirements and Role
An ideal 15U is positive yet clear on expectations, and knows when to be firm and when to be calm and sit back to allow the player to think and respond on his/her own. During this age many athletes are transitioning to new roles, for example a hitter is becoming a 6 rotation player or a setter is becoming a libero. A 15U coach must be prepared and willing to go through growing pains with their athletes, allowing them to fail early to learn and achieve the long term goal. It is important for the coach to focus on the athletes’ learning processes and not the result. It is equally important for the coach to help the athletes to understand it is a process that takes time.
At the 15U level significant development at this age with respect to independent decision making and problem-solving should be expected. Therefore it is important for the coach to encourage the narration of the game from the players. Liberos switching serve receive patterns, setters alternating offensive design, blockers calling out top hitters and tendencies by rotation. Teach and guide the athletes to become students of the game.
Team Systems Development
- Develop an offense that always has a first tempo option
- Develop an offense that has a back row attack option
- Develop offensive combination plays
- Train an overlapping defense with the expectation that at least two players pursue every ball
- The movement and transition game becomes more important at this age. Athletes must understand how the game breathes from coverage-base-defensive release-repeat
- Introduce higher level concepts such as having a transition plan for each situation. Ie: if the drop off/off blocker plays the 1st ball your team should run the middle.
- Start to understand the struggle is temporary and necessary for growth
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable
- Learn the ebbs and flows of the game
- Celebrate others success within the team
- Understand while the ball is in play there is always a job to be done by all players. There should never be a time of standing and watching
Strength and Agility Development
- Pushing off the line with proper leg on defense to cover more ground
- Box jumping for attacking to get max jump each time
- Consistent pre-practice routine for 10-15 minutes
- Embrace the concept of going harder and longer in practice and how it translates into the game