“Was that going out?”

I hear a number of common phrases during volleyball play which I discourage athletes from using. This is why. 

“Was that going out?”

This phrase is most commonly uttered right after a player contacts a ball during defense and shanks it out of team control. It’s a peculiar question to ask of a team mate, because the outcome is already done. One cannot rewind to that specific situation again. What it does represent is a deflection of perceived responsibility. If the ball was indeed perceived to be going out, then I’ve seen the shanker blame her teammate for not warning her sooner. If it wasn’t, then the shanker was making a good effort play to just touch the ball. Using the phrase is a means of externalizing the issue instead of actively learning from it.

The key here is developing good judgement to decide to play the ball so that it is in system, regardless of whether it was going out or not. It works best when the digger chooses to embrace the responsibility of taking the ball, confident in the team’s ability to convert the play, or accepting the heat for gambling the outcome of the rally for a potential quick point. Either way, the lesson is to accept and learn, rather than deflect and deny.

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