Life Outside My Cube

My life, a work in progress.

Category Archives: games


The beginning of a new month, and almost summer. It certainly feels like summer, with temps in the mid-to-upper 80’s. I still feel lethargic, what with the heat and  the lack of urgent work. Volleyball last night was a good escape for a while.

As promised, I got everyone going on dynamic stretching before we started playing. It was fairly well received, but I only had everyone do a few; my mind went blank trying to remember all of the ones we did at the volleyball camp. So here’s a compiled list of all I can remember:

  1. Jog
  2. Sprint
  3. Lunge walk
  4. Lateral lunge walk
  5. Butt kicks
  6. Walking quad stretch (pull back to butt)
  7. Straight-leg deadlift walk
  8. Forward hand walk
  9. Groin stretch walk
  10. Alternate toe touches
  11. Left and right shuffle
  12. Left and right crossover
  13. Leg huggers
  14. High knees jog
  15. High kick toe-touch
  16. Heel-to-toe touch ground
  17. Jumping jacks
I also reinforced the perimeter defense in all the teams I played with, and introduced No Mercy at the end, which was more of  a fun thing than anything else; it wasn’t clear that everyone knew positions well enough for it to be a good drill.
Anyhow, we’ll see how it all works out in the coming weeks. Perhaps if I added one thing each week, it wouldn’t be too overwhelming.

Six Against the World

“Is volleyball all about skill?” That’s was the question of the evening as we watched our friends play a tough tournament set. On the surface, I quickly answered “Yes,” but the question was meant to probe a bit deeper. One aspect of the question was was concerned with God’s involvement in all our lives. Another aspect was concerned with individual skills.

An individual’s skill level will certainly help a team win, and a single stand-out player may win a few points on his own. Even the player who “takes charge” of the court, nudging aside weaker players just to gain a point is can help the team to win a game. But overall, stand-out players or a ball hoggers are detrimental to the team. You see, the greatest “win” on the court is when the whole team is working together and utilizing synergy to play at a higher level.

Volleyball is a fantastic game for emphasizing team play and cooperation. A , but a really good team working together is difficult to beat. A well-executed play involves different skills; each member of the team can participate in their own way, from the obvious pass, set and spike to the fakes and defensive moves. Each play involves everyone in the team, and requires different skills from each person. The beauty of rotations is that over time, each player has time at each position and will tend to excel at each skill needed.

Often, however, a player that has certain natural – or earned – abilities will tend to gravitate toward certain positions. Despite rotations, that person may switch positions after the serve in order to support or replace a weaker player at another position. For example, a short person without a high vertical jump may lean toward the passing positions. If this is done too often, that person will not be able to properly practice setting, spiking or blocking skills, unlike those teammates that occupy those positions regularly. If then a setter, for example, is injured or not available for a play, that passer may not be able to substitute at an appropriate level.

There will always be players that excel at certain positions – spikers, for example, where physical height or a high vertical is an enormous advantage. But it would be unwise for those players to spike exclusively – they may not be in a position to do so on each play, or each part of a play. A collection of players who excel at each position is a formidable team – flexible and dynamic with few weak spots the opponent can take advantage of. As everyone contributes to each position, I believe the team as a whole performs better than one or more stand-out players could on a weaker team. This synergy is the kind of skill that makes a competitive team.

In practice play, a team should be focused on increasing all players’ skill levels at each position. I believe that a team is as good as its weakest player, so that player should command a larger proportion of individual attention during practice. I also believe a team’s performance is as good as its weakest skills, so drills that improve those skills should command a larger proportion of time in practice. Drills and skills practice may seem boring compared to game play, but it’s essential for the proper growth of a competitive team.

I also believe that there is no “i” in team. Ball-hoggers have no place on a volleyball team. That kind of attitude demonstrates self-interest and a lack of concern for the team and other team members. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others”