Fundamental volleyball

Leave a bunch of naive kids with a volleyball and a court, and a game will emerge. Methods will be different – usually they’ll resort to catching and throwing the ball, and the team composition is irrelevant. Teams may be unbalanced in number or physical size but they’ll get a game going. What seems invariable is that the ball needs to go over the net and has to land in the opposing team’s boundaries.

When an adult or older kid steps in to teach “proper volleyball”, the first thing they do is discard these game properties. They insist that the focus should be on the “fundamentals” – the two handed platform, the stereotypical jump attack, the ten fingered hand set – and removing the game elements make it simpler to learn. In the process, they’ve removed the game entirely. Novices now learn volleyball not as a game but as conformity in form to a social standard.

Fundamentals aren’t imposed in volleyball, they’re a product of the evolution within the constraints of the game. Those fundamentals – ball going over the net, landing in the boundaries of the opponents court – novices intuit and know. They’re not barriers to learning but should remain in any effective and efficient training program.

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