2016 is gone, and with it go by another year of successes to build upon, and missed opportunities to improve. But as valuable as the moments taken to reflect on what’s happened is the opportunity to make a mental check of what all players of all levels around the world can do to improve in 2017.
Here’s 5 New Years Resolutions that every volleyballer, if they’re not already, should commit to in 2017 to get better:
1. Commit to Nutrition
The most popular New Years’ resolution in the world, for NARPs (non-athlete regular persons), is to go on a diet and get in shape. But let’s be real, you’re an athlete. This is about performance. It’s not about cutting calories, it’s about eating the right calories. Focus on getting more protein and cutting out the empty foods like french fries and cookies and candy. Make better choices in 2017 – choose the grilled chicken sandwich instead of the breaded chicken sandwich, or the baked potato instead of the potato chips. Find healthy snacks and keep them handy for cravings in between practice and games and school. Small changes will reap big rewards in energy levels and performance.
2. Get to practice early
If you’re playing through your scholastic career, this can be a hard one to pull off, depending on scheduling, but whenever possible, get to practice early. Take a few minutes to talk to your coach about the focus for the day’s practice. Get in a little extra warmup, conditioning, or stretching that will help improve your long-term capacity to improve. If nothing else, arriving early gives you a few mindful minutes to push away the chaos of your day and focus on the challenge of the workout in front of you.
3. Stay at practice late
Something feel off at practice today? Stay a few minutes late to run through an extra drill and shore it up. Watch some extra tape of an upcoming opponent. Run through some extra passing drills with your setter. Take a few minutes with your coach to talk about what they saw in practice that day, while it’s still fresh on your minds, that you might be able to focus on the next day. Develop a more well-rounded skillset that you might not get as much time on during a normal practice (hitters, work on block timing, blockers work on your digging). If you’re going to make up ground, you’re going to have put in the work.
4. Take time to connect with your teammates off-the-court
Individual skills are crucial to success in volleyball, but at the end of the day its a team sport. Take some time in 2017 to really get to know your teammates better and become closer with them. More familiarity leads to more understanding and less conflict. Teams that bond better will recover from mistakes better, communicate better, and ultimately play better. These sort of intrapersonal development skills will serve you well for the rest of your life both on the court, and off it.
5. Fall in love with the sport again
If you’re a high school player, go watch your local college team play, or make a pilgrimage to an NCAA Championship site (along with 19,000 other people who love volleyball). If you’re a college or professional player, go watch a local high school team play and let yourself become engaged in the emotion, remembering how special the moments and emotions of youth volleyball are. Read more about volleyball, watch professional volleyball from around the world, get involved with players from around the country and around the world on Instagram and Twitter. Volunteer coach a youth team or YMCA team to give back to the sport and re-engage your brain in the fundamentals. Whatever it takes, make sure to stoke the fires of your passion for volleyball in 2017. At the end of the day, nothing can replace that passion, and it will go a long way toward making 1-4 easier to achieve.