Where am I right now?
Since April is what I consider to be the month of passing/receiving for practicing, I think that I have learned a lot about how to pass a ball to the setter, like how to angle my arms when receiving to control the angle where the ball goes after leaving my arms. I learned that keeping my arms too flat horizontally is a bad thing because it would mainly just go upwards, but that keeping my arms too steeply angled in front of me is also a bad thing because then it would just go straight forward when I want it to arc towards the setting for the second touch. This means that I have to find the perfect angle for receiving, and I definitely think that I have improved in this area (although I would still like to improve more).
I will continue to focus on passing and receiving balls for the rest of the month, but regarding the other areas of play, I think that I have also definitely improved in my serving. When I go to a volleyball drop-in/practice, we primarily run “waves” which is an activity where four people go on each side of the court (one front-row, three back-row) and they assume their positions in that way. The interesting part of waves is that if you make the mistake for the point loss of that round, you go out and go to the back of the line to serve and go back in. This means that to get into the wave cycle in the first place, you have to serve the volleyball and get it over the net and in the court once. This has definitely helped my serving since it was in a way the gateway to practice the other aspects of my play.
Meanwhile, I have been trying to exercise my legs so that I could jump higher for easier blocks and hits. Since the weather is now warming up a bit, I have been going to play beach volleyball a bit throughout the weeks. One of my friends told me that beach volleyball relies a lot on jump height and technical ability, since there are only two people on a team rather than six. This means I was able to touch the ball a lot more. I will try to go to as many beach volleyball sessions as possible now that the weather is warming up. Finally, my sets have been improving, but admittedly not by a lot. I am still not very happy with my progression with setting. I have improved a bit, but not enough to confidently set my teammates in a game. I will continue to work on all aspects of my performance.
About my mentor
I am still going to as many practices with Coach James as possible so that I can get as much advice from him as possible. Here are the reflection questions for this blog post.
1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?
Besides the practices at Pinetree, Coach James also hosts beach volleyball sessions for people to go to at the nets at Lafarge Park. I try to go to as many of these as possible so that I can get advice from him directly.
2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?
I find that when I learn something new about playing volleyball, whether it’s a new tip on how to set the volleyball or how to approach the volleyball to spike it, a great place to practice a new skill I have learned are the volleyball drop-ins at Pinetree. Typically, at these volleyball drop-ins, they start off with people doing their own warmups, and then doing waves, and then ending off the session with hitting lines. This allows for a lot of opportunities to practice a lot of new skills I may learn.
3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?
There are a few drop-in events that I know of but do not go to since my friends do not go to them. This is because I am worried that I will not be able to do my best if I am not with my own friend group to practice with. An example could be the volleyball drop-ins at Centennial Activity Center every Monday or the drop-ins at CIAC (Catalyst Initiative Athletic Club) every Saturday. Another deterring fact is that these locations are fairly far away from where I live, but I will try to go to them now if my parents are able to drop me off there.
4. When you get together what do you talk about?
We mostly talk about what I should do to improve in my volleyball learning. For example, one of the times I went to him he recommended for me to practice my serves to get them more consistently, and also to watch videos of people playing online to practice tricks performed in those videos in real life.
5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?
I am happy that Coach James helps in so many different areas when it comes to volleyball in the local community, as it makes it very easy to get together with him when practices are being hosted.
6. What are you learning about one another?
I am learning that Coach James truly cares a lot about the sport. As mentioned in my answer to question 5, he orchestrates and participates in a lot of volleyball-related events in the area, and this proves to me that he cares a lot about the sport.
Proof that I am making progress
I said in my last blog post that I was going to take videos of myself playing volleyball to demonstrate my form in a better way compared to just words, and I was planning to take these videos on April 15th at the volleyball drop-in at Pinetree, but I did not know that the community center would be closed on Friday for the long weekend. This is my fault, and I apologize. However, I plan to go to the volleyball drop-ins on this Friday, April 22nd since it is a pro-d day at school. This means that I will be able to go to both drop-ins from 4:00-6:00 and 6:15-8:15 for the most possible amount of practice. I plan to take the videos on this date.
Issues that I am running into
I am not running into any issues right now. In fact, it is a great thing that the weather is warming up. This means that I can play beach volleyball with my friends more often!
I will continue to practice my passing/receiving in the volleyball drop-ins/practices, and I hope to get a lot of practice in now that the weather is warming up so that I can play beach volleyball with my friends.