Motivation In Drills

When I was still a player, I worked with a sport psychologist who liked to talk about errors that only experts can make. If I remember correctly, he pointing out the type of errors that result from the kind of tunnel vision that experts often tend to have.  Hopefully in most cases coaches qualify as experts in the field of volleyball, and volleyball training in particular.  As experts, these coaches are always trying to create the perfect drill.  And nothing says ‘perfect drill’ more eloquently than ‘complex scoring system’.  Scoring systems based on statistical analysis, and desired outcomes are of course highly desirable.  But the more complicated the scoring system, the more likely a coach can make an ‘expert’ mistake.

Players have (hopefully) two characteristics.  Firstly, they are competitive. They want to win. (This is actually much less self evident than you would think, but that is a story for another day.)  Secondly, they are lazy.  This should not be a surprise as human beings are mostly lazy.  And it is not necessarily a completely negative thing, especially when it is coupled with competitiveness.  Competitiveness and laziness combined lead people to find the easiest and quickest solution to a problem.  This often leads to many great innovations and other positive outcomes.  But for an expert coach it can lead to difficulties.

The more complicated a scoring system in a drill, the more likely a coach can have overlooked some small detail, exactly the kind of small detail that competitive, lazy players love to take advantage of.  And by taking advantage of that oversight, the players can negate the purpose of the drill and unnecessarily anger the coach**.  If the players find a flaw, the course of action is simple.  Praise the players for their competitiveness and intelligence, be happy you have smart players and not unthinking automatons, change the scoring system immediately and resolve to do better next time knowing full well it is only a matter of time before you make the next mistake. You are, after all, an expert. 😉


** In this case the coach’s anger should be directed at himself for making a mistake, although it will mostly by expressed at the player/s who exposed it.  See ‘What Are You Really Angry About?’

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