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Coaching Management VOL. XVI NO. 5







How to build excitement for your team

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Social Networking Web Sites Training on Unstable Surfaces

Circle No. 100

Coaching Management Volleyball Edition Preseason 2008


Vol. XVI, No. 5






Bulletin Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Catching a Crowd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

News from the NCAA Convention … Why Coach Patti Perone welcomed a boy on her girls’ team … BYU players honor their athletic trainer … Getting noticed on the Web … Preventing a MRSA outbreak on your team … High school coaches provide feedback on the libero.

Coaches everywhere are taking new approaches to bringing large, loud crowds to their volleyball games. Attracting families, new students, and fans of other sports are all proving to be successful strategies.


Faceless New World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Q&A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Joanne Persico-Smith, Head Coach at St. John’s University, talks about turning a club squad into a top-20 NCAA Division I team.


Balanced Attack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

COACHING AIDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 PRODUCT DIRECTORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 TEAM EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 BRACES & SUPPORTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 VOLLEYBALL COURT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 MORE PRODUCTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 NEXT STOP: WEB SITE


Publisher Mark Goldberg Editor-in-Chief Eleanor Frankel Associate Editor Dennis Read Assistant Editors R.J. Anderson, Kenny Berkowitz, Nate Dougherty, Abigail Funk, Greg Scholand Art Director Pamela Crawford Photo Research Susan Morello Business Manager Pennie Small

For student-athletes, social networking Web sites mean anonymity and zero responsibility. That’s why it’s critical to educate them on this hugely popular new form of communication.


To train athletes in agility and balance, many coaches are using unstable surfaces. Here’s how to make the idea work for your program. ADVERTISERS DIRECTORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 On the cover: Creighton University attracted over 12,000 fans to its home arena for this match against Nebraska in September 2006. The Bluejays market heavily to families and community groups. Story begins on page 16.

Marketing Director Sheryl Shaffer Marketing/Sales Assistant Danielle Catalano Circulation Director Dave Dubin Circulation Manager John Callaghan Production Director Don Andersen Assistant Production Director Jim Harper Production Assistant Jonni Campbell Prepress Manager Neal Betts Special Projects Dave Wohlhueter

Advertising Sales Associates (607) 257-6970 Diedra Harkenrider, ext. 24 Pat Wertman, ext. 21 Ad Materials Coordinator Mike Townsend Administrative Assistant Sharon Barbell Business and Editorial Offices 31 Dutch Mill Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850 (607) 257-6970, Fax (607) 257-7328

The Coaching Management Volleyball edition is published in April and November by MAG, Inc. and is distributed free to college and high school coaches in the United States and Canada. Copyright © 2008 by MAG, Inc. All rights reserved. Text may not be reproduced in any manner, in whole or in part, without the permission of the publisher. Unsolicited materials will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Coaching Management, P.O. Box 4806, Ithaca, N.Y. 14852. Printed in the U.S.A.

Mailing lists for Coaching Management Volleyball are provided by the Clell Wade Coaches Directory.



At the 2008 NCAA Convention, delegates addressed several issues affecting the present and future of college volleyball. The use of male practice players, text messaging as a recruiting tool, scholarship retention for pregnant athletes, and the possibility of a new division were all discussed at the Nashville, Tenn., meetings in January. In a 223-206 vote, Division III delegates chose to restrict the use of male practice players in

women’s sports to one practice per week. The new rule, which takes effect Aug. 1, also limits the number of male practice players to half the number of the sport’s starting squad. Advocates of the new limits, including the Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), argued that male practice players take participation opportunities away from females. Opponents of the rule said male players give women’s teams valuable experience competing against stronger,

faster, taller challengers. A 2007 survey conducted by the NCAA found that 16 percent of Division I, 10 percent of Division II, and 12 percent of Division III volleyball teams used at least one male practice player. Practicing against men remains unregulated in Divisions I and II. In Division I, the Board of Directors approved legislation to protect the scholarships of student-athletes who become pregnant during their college career. Institutions will now be prohibited from reducing or canceling an athlete’s aid during a scholarship term because of any injury, illness, or medical condition (including pregnancy), regardless of whether it affects their ability to participate in their sport. The rule was strongly supported by the D-I SAAC and by women’s rights groups, specifically because of the pregnancy provision. “Accountability needs to take place here and now by providing these student-athletes the necessary financial protection,” Rutgers University softball player and D-I SAAC member Brittany Loisel told delegates. “We need to know that our institutions are committed to us more than as students and athletes. We need to know that our institutions are committed to us as people.”

One of the topics discussed at this year’s NCAA Convention was the idea of splitting Division III in two. A group studying the issue found that two different philosophies have emerged among D-III schools. Above, Washington University’s Audra Janak sets the ball during the 2007 Division III championship game.


The Board also tweaked the Academic Progress Rate (APR) formula to prevent good students who transfer from hurting their old team’s score. Previously, teams lost an APR point whenever one of their members transferred, regardless of the departing athlete’s GPA—they counted as a “one for two” (earning one out of a possible two points) and thereby lowered the team’s APR. Now, an athlete who leaves with at least a 2.6 GPA will count as a “one for one.” This new policy takes effect for the 2007-08 cohort of studentathletes, and will not apply retroactively.

In other Division I news, the much-discussed text messaging ban, which prohibits coaches from sending cell-phone text messages to high school students during the recruiting process, was subjected to an override vote. The attempt failed by more than a three-toone margin, leaving the existing ban in effect. In Division II, high school recruits’ coursework was on the agenda as the division’s Academic Requirements Committee recommended increasing the number of core courses required for initial eligibility from 14 to 16. The committee cited research showing that existing D-II requirements didn’t align with most institutions’ admissions criteria, and noted that the requirements were lower than most U.S. high schools’ current graduation standards. “By increasing the number of required core courses for initial eligibility … student-athletes can show they are prepared to handle the rigors of academics in college,” Metropolitan State President and new chair of the Division II Presidents Council Stephen Jordan said. NCAA President Myles Brand also endorsed the increase during his remarks at the convention. It faced no organized opposition, and passed by a 238-31 vote. Finally, the convention included discussions on the future of Division III and whether the creation of a fourth division is in the association’s best interests. The Division III Working Group on Membership Issues, formed last year to examine the possibility of a split in the division, presented data to For more information on the convention and other NCAA rules changes, visit the association’s redesigned Web site at:


Around the NCAA




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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD support its contention that the division’s growth has caused the emergence of two differing philosophies on governing athletics. The group cited voting patterns and sport sponsorship rates as evidence that there are two distinct perspectives currently coexisting within Division III. With strong opinions on both sides of this debate, no change is on the immediate horizon, and the working group’s goal of restructuring by 2009 may be overly optimistic. Nichols College President Debra Townsley spoke for many in D-III when she urged delegates to move carefully and deliberately. “For the most part, we are change [oriented] institutions,” she said on the convention’s last day. “I just think that when it’s a change of this magnitude, there needs to be time for the discussion.”

H.S. Boy Serves Up Controversy The 2007 season at Horseheads (N.Y.) High School was certainly memorable. The Blue Raiders won their fourth straight Class AA Section IV championship and made it to the state tournament semifinals. But the team’s accomplishments weren’t what captured the most attention. Instead, the buzz centered on junior setter Kyle Ray, a boy on the girls’ team.

“I really was between a rock and a hard place,” Perone says. “As one of my coaching colleagues told me, ‘If you don’t let him play, you’ll get


Perone, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Girls’ Volleyball Coordinator, notified her fellow coaches at the Section IV preseason coaches meeting. Perone says that most of the coaches supported her decision. The girls on the team did as well. “Kyle is a kid who just loves to play volleyball, and every girl on the team understood that,” says Perone. “They all supported Kyle and never, ever questioned his motives. That was true of their parents too. The girls even signed a petition to make sure Kyle was allowed an opportunity to try out.” Before being allowed to attend tryouts, regulations in the state Education Department regarding mixed competition stated that Ray had to take a fitness test to prove he wouldn’t have an unfair physical advantage. School officials administered tests of speed, strength, and vertical leap, and cleared him to play. A Section IV conference committee governing mixed competition also approved Ray’s participation after an appeal was filed a few games into the season. To make sure that Ray’s inclusion didn’t eliminate a roster position that would have otherwise gone to a girl, Perone decided to allow 13 girls on the team instead of her usual 12. But she also gave Ray the chance to earn playing time. “I did a lot of thinking and reflecting and decided it was my duty as an educator and coach to allow this kid to have the same kind of athletics experience as every other player on the team,” says Perone. “That’s such a big part of what we do as coaches and I just didn’t feel right denying him the opportunity.”

Kyle Ray, a boy who played on the girls’ team at Horseheads (N.Y.) High School last fall, goes up for a block during the team’s sectional championship match. Ray was welcomed by his female teammates but booed by some opposing fans. At five-foot-eight and 140 pounds, Ray is not physically imposing and wasn’t the team’s tallest player or its hardest hitter. “I’ve coached plenty of girls who can play circles around Kyle,” says Perone. “Even this season, there were girls on the team who hit the ball harder than he did.” Perone attempted to minimize outside criticism by playing Ray at setter, which limited his opportunities to attack from the front row. “I thought it might cause fewer problems

if he didn’t make kill shots,” she says. However, complaints and negative cheering became a regular occurrence throughout the season. During a game against one rival school, Ray was booed every time he touched the ball, and insults flew on Internet message boards. “But Kyle never let it get to him and the rest of the team never let it distract them,” Perone says. “They were all very mature and concentrated on the task at hand.”


Because Horseheads does not have a boys’ team, Ray decided to try out for the girls’ squad. Patti Perone, Head Coach at Horseheads, says based on rules regarding mixed competition set by the state Education Department and legal precedent set by Title IX, the school had no choice but to allow Ray to play.

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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD The controversy’s crescendo came against Pine Bush High School in the opening round of the state tournament. Before the game, Pine Bush lodged a protest with the NYSPHSAA, citing Horseheads’ use of a male player. That protest was denied, and the Blue Raiders went on to win the match.

In April, the team found out that its long-time Athletic Trainer and BYU’s Director of Sports Medicine, Gaye Merrill, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. They wanted to show their support and came up with the idea to switch the color of their bracelets to pink, signifying breast cancer awareness.

“I don’t think that boys should be playing girls’ volleyball,” Pine Bush Head Coach Lori Kachelmeyer told the Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record. “They’re stronger, they’re faster, they can jump higher, and they’re just physically more advanced than women are.”

“The idea came from the athletes themselves, and our

someone close to you has cancer. And they had questions: What exactly is it? What does this mean for her future? “Gaye handled it so well,” he continues. “She was very open with the players and wanted them to know what she was going through. So while this was a really sad event, it was also an educational experience for our student-athletes.”

BYU made it to the final eight teams of the NCAA Division I Tournament at the end of the season, and Merrill was along for the ride. “Gaye went with us to the tournament, and we had a fun season getting as far as we did,” Watson says. “I’m so happy that she got to be a part of that. Gaye is doing wonderfully right now. We’re all thrilled about her recovery and look forward to next season with her on our sideline.”

In her 20-plus years of coaching, Perone says she has never dealt with the level of stress that she felt throughout the ordeal. However, she says she has grown from the experience and so have her players. “It was the kind of adversity we don’t normally face,” says Perone. “It taught us a lot of life lessons and I think it really brought our team together. The experience will serve the student-athletes all very well, especially later on in their lives.” Perone also understands the concerns of those who wanted to prevent Ray from playing. “I certainly know where they’re coming from,” she says. “But I think it comes down to not judging somebody until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”


Supporting the Supporter For the past few years, the Brigham Young University women’s team has had its season’s theme imprinted on bracelets. This past fall’s theme, for instance, was “Be Tough.” But instead of printing those words on a bracelet with the usual team colors, the players chose pink to make a statement.

The Brigham Young University women’s volleyball team used the motto “Be Tough” this year to help guide them to the NCAA Division I Regional Finals. The phrase was also in support of the team’s athletic trainer, who was battling breast cancer. theme of “Be Tough” fit the situation perfectly,” says BYU Head Coach Jason Watson. “I think it had a dramatic effect upon Gaye that the girls would do that for her.” When Merrill, a BYU graduate and employee for over 25 years, was diagnosed, she sent an e-mail to the players, telling them of the doctor’s discovery. “It was definitely a shock to all of us,” Watson says. “There was some uncertainty from the team, as there always is when you find out

Other than a few weeks in October, Merrill continued to work throughout her chemotherapy treatments and even traveled with the team throughout the season. “We often talk about our volleyball program and our athletic program as a family,” Watson says. “Here was a member of our family who needed our support. We still wanted her to be a part of our season because she is such an important component of the team. I felt it was incredibly beneficial both for Gaye and the girls to be so connected.”

Right-Click Recruiting Setter Kenzie Aries is an outstanding high school volleyball player. But she does not always make coaches’ heads turn. So when Aries decided she wanted to be recruited to play in college, she found a way to make coaches take notice: She constructed a Web site about herself. Instead of writing letters and sending game tapes, the three-



At, Kenzie Aries provides a wealth of information for college recruiters to find out more about her. The above Web page details her play for San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas, Calif., over the past three years. year starter for San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas, Calif., gives coaches one word: No copying tapes and going to the post office would be needed.’s home page opens with quotes from coaches about Aries (“Kenzie is the hardest working player I have ever coached” ... “Strongest setter in San Diego County” ... “She will be a valuable asset to any program” ... “Very physical player who is at the same time agile and quick”). It continues with information about honors she’s received, links to game clips, an interview with Aries, and an “About Kenzie” page. Coaches can easily request full game DVDs and the entire site is well organized and easy to navigate.


“If you can put clips together online,” she continues, “in two minutes and a few clicks a coach can say, ‘Yes, I want this person,’ or, ‘I don’t think she would fit in our system.’” Aries says she has also saved time and money by promoting herself through the Web. “Usually when you’re trying to present yourself to college coaches, you have to put together a VHS tape or a DVD, then spend money to mail it off to every coach you want to see it,” Aries says. “While it was work in the beginning to get the site started—it took about 50 hours to upload the videos—it saved

clubhouse after two players acquired the infection.

After getting some scholarship offers from NCAA Division I schools on the East Coast, Aries has decided to play at Division III Pomona College to stay closer to home. She credits the Web site with making her recruiting process easier and predicts that as video-sharing technologies become more prevalent, the number of high school athletes who market themselves on their own sites will increase.

MRSA is like other types of staph, but with one important difference: MRSA strains are immune to many common antibiotics, including penicillin and amoxicillin. MRSA is more dangerous than ordinary staph because without the proper antibiotics, the infection grows worse and can lead to more serious and even fatal complications, such as pneumonia and bloodstream infections. Untreated MRSA also releases a dangerous toxin called Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) into the blood.

“With the growing number of high school athletes who are computer literate, it would seem that YouTube and other video-sharing sites will become more popular for showing recruiting videos,” Aries says. “I think this idea will catch on because it makes things so much easier.”

Preventing MRSA Infections

With the right antibiotics and prompt treatment, a MRSA infection can be cured fairly easily in almost all cases. Most serious health problems and MRSA-related deaths are caused by late or incorrect diagnosis and treatment of the infection, which is why awareness is such an important step in preventing an outbreak.

High school player Shae Musolino ignored the red bump on her knee last season until it became so swollen her knee pads wouldn’t fit anymore. Musolino had contracted MRSA—the potentially lifethreatening virus that has earned the nickname “Superbug.” She made a full recovery after treatment and was back on the court this season, but it’s a good thing Musolino didn’t ignore the bump any longer than she already had. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a staph infection that has increasingly been found in athletic settings. MRSA made national headlines in 2003 when a football player at Lycoming College died of a bloodstream infection linked to the MRSA bacteria. In 2005, one volleyball player and 10 football players at Austin Peay State University were diagnosed with MRSA. And in 2006, the Toronto Blue Jays had to disinfect their entire

MRSA is a dangerous staph infection showing up on more and more athletic teams. Frequent hand-washing is one prevention strategy recommended by many experts.


To get college coaches to view the site, Aries simply sends an e-mail that includes some basic information and a link. The response has been great.

“One time during a recruiting visit with a coach, I looked over and saw a stack of DVDs and VHS tapes in her office,” Aries says. “She said it was difficult to watch all of them because she didn’t have a television in her office or even a VCR in the building.

me so much time later when I went to talk to coaches.”

“The real key to controlling MRSA is identifying it as quickly as possible,” says Jeff Hageman, an epidemiologist specializing in staph infections at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The standard treatment procedures and drugs are very effective, and the severe cases are usually the result of an infection not being recognized early enough.” A MRSA infection typically begins as a skin lesion containing a pustule, so it is often mistaken for a pimple, ingrown

hair, or spider bite. As it develops, it expands and can be accompanied by painful swelling and discoloration, running sores, boils, and serious tissue damage. Any skin abrasion that looks suspect should be checked by a physician. In athletic settings, infection usually occurs when a colonized person’s bacteria come into contact with a cut, scrape, or other open wound. This can occur through skin-on-skin contact or through the sharing of equipment. The danger extends to the locker room as

well—MRSA can be spread when athletes share towels, razors, or even bars of soap. Strategies for warding off MRSA range from the basic, like using liquid soap dispensers in locker room showers, to the high-tech—one company offers a metal box that attaches to a wall and continuously filters air in the room. But experts agree a major piece of the puzzle is simply practicing good hygiene.

just by following standard cleanliness rules,” says A.J. Duffy III, Head Athletic Trainer at Widener University and former President of the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers’ Association. “That means washing their hands regularly with antibacterial soap. It also means showering immediately after practice—athletes shouldn’t change their clothes and head back home or to their dorm room to shower, even though many prefer to do that.”

“Athletes can do a lot to minimize their exposure to MRSA

Basic hygiene standards should apply to uniforms and equip-

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the most up-to-date information on MRSA. Type MRSA in the search window at:

Our sister publication, Training & Conditioning, has free posters warning athletes and parents about the dangers of MRSA:

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s official statement on MRSA is a valuable resource:

To read more articles on MRSA, visit our sister publication, Athletic Management, on the Web. Type “MRSA” in the search window at:


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LOCKER ROOM BULLETIN BOARD ment as well. “One thing we know is that bacteria love damp, moist environments, which means protective equipment is a potential danger area,” Duffy says. “How many times do you see athletes finish practice and throw their gear in a bag or locker instead of letting it dry out? It’s a simple step, but it can make a very big difference.” The best thing you can do as a coach is educate your players on what MRSA is and how simple preventative measures can make a difference. Early detection and proper diagnosis are the keys to treating MRSA, and any player should see a doctor if a wound is not healing quickly.

Libero Nets Good Results It’s been four years since the libero was introduced as an experiment in high school play, two years since the position became a rule in all states, and one year since the libero began serving. How is it affecting the high school game?

chance she gets. It brings another offensive weapon to the team and a new level of enthusiasm to your side of the court.” The libero has even won over coaches who were initially skeptical, like Betty Wroubel, Head Coach at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Pontiac, Mich. “I came into this change thinking I wasn’t going to like it,” she says. “I thought it would keep another defender from playing. “But it hasn’t done that at all,” Wroubel continues. “It’s given us more flexibility to use those other defenders to substitute for somebody who might be having an off-day, and it’s made the libero work even harder to contribute to her team. She’s the one calling defensive formations and getting everybody on the same page defensively. I’ve been

converted. I think it’s a great rules change.” After experimenting with different kinds of substitutions in 2006, Wroubel consistently used the libero for middle blockers in 2007. She is pleased to see the change creating new opportunities for shorter players and giving the defense a well-deserved boost. “In the last five years, the offensive game has exploded with bigger, stronger, faster hitters,” Wroubel says. “With the libero, the defensive game is now keeping pace with the offense. It’s become one of the most important roles on the floor, making that player every bit as important as the big guns on the offensive line.” For the upcoming season, the NFHS has decided to officially rename the “assistant scorer” the “libero tracker.” In future

years, the Volleyball Rules Committee is considering other proposals to fine-tune the position, including one to modify the color of the libero uniform. “At this point, the remaining concerns coaches and officials have are mostly about rules interpretations and the color of the uniform,” says Peter Balding, Assistant Boys’ Coach at Punahou School in Honolulu, and a member of the rules committee. “Sometimes, the uniform isn’t in a contrasting color that would make the libero immediately distinguishable by the referee, so we’re looking into requiring liberos to wear uniforms that do not include any of the colors in their teammates’ uniforms.” For more information on high school rules changes, go to:

“The libero has been very well received,” says Becky Oakes, Liaison to the NFHS Volleyball Rules Committee. “Once teams began to get a feel for the position and the student-athletes who could fill it, coaches wanted liberos to be able to serve. So that’s what the rules committee recommended for last year. Overall, we are hearing positive feedback from coaches and the implementation has generally been smooth.” In Ohio, which began experimenting with the position three years ago, Don Conser, Head Coach at Salem High School, applauds the changes loudly. “I really liked allowing the libero to serve,” he says. “If you have an athlete who can play the libero and serve, it gives your team a great advantage to let her serve every


With the libero now fully integrated into high school play, more coaches are embracing its use. Kori Valentine, an All-State player at libero, helped Notre Dame Preparatory School in Pontiac, Mich., win its first state title this fall.

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Joanne Persico-Smith St. John’s University If you didn’t know any better, you’d think Joanne Persico-Smith was several people rolled into one. Along with being Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at St. John’s University, Persico-Smith coaches a club basketball team, sits on her high school alma mater’s Board of Trustees, leads countless volleyball clinics, and has served on numerous volleyball coaching committees. She also plays volleyball competitively and sings the national anthem at many St. John’s events. But the main reason we chose to talk with Persico-Smith is to find out how she turned a club squad into a top-20 NCAA Division I team. The process began in 1994 when the team earned varsity status and Persico-Smith was named Head Coach. After posting a 10-25 record in her first season, she compiled a 24-10 campaign and made a Big East Tournament appearance in just her second year on the job. She hasn’t stopped moving forward since.

CM: What was the key to your team becoming so successful the past two seasons? Persico-Smith: We knew for many years that we were doing good things: We had a good record, we were right in the middle of the Big East, and when we lost, they were very close games. What changed is that I worked more on recruiting. We brought in some better athletes and a few very good leaders who really bought into the philosophy at St. John’s. Our teams don’t just win, they win the right way—as community-minded students as well as exceptional athletes. Our leaders wanted to take that mission and move forward to try to win a championship with it. And with our success, we have been able to recruit even better athletes. We’ve never had a ranked recruiting class before this year, which makes our success quite a feat and the girls know that. They look at the Coaches Poll teams and think, “Wow, none of these schools ever looked at me!” And that’s a great feeling. Why do you recruit so many international players? Our roster is about 50/50, although there are Web sites that say we have 80 percent international players. I recruit all over the world because I want our team to be a reflection of our university, which itself is a reflection of our city. Our city

In 2006, St. John’s won its first Big East regular season crown and Persico-Smith was named Big East Coach of the Year, 20 years after being named the league’s Player of the Year while competing for Syracuse University. This past season, St. John’s won its first Big East Tournament championship, and advanced to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament, where it lost to the University of Southern California, 3-2. The squad posted a 33-4 final record and a No. 13 ranking in the CSTV/AVCA Division I Coaches Poll. In the 14 years Persico-Smith has been at the helm at St. John’s, her teams’ grade point averages have always been at least 3.0, and 50 of her athletes have been named Big East Academic All-Stars. Just eight wins shy of the 300 mark, Persico-Smith says she needs to stay involved in so many different activities to keep on her toes and in the moment. In this interview, Persico-Smith talks about recruiting international players, balancing her busy life, and increasing college volleyball’s exposure.

is New York. We have people who come here from all over the world, so this is a niche I thought we could dive into and be aggressive in. It has worked out very well for us. But you can’t recruit internationally without the right support services in place. We have a great intensive English program on campus and other support programs, and that is key. If an international athlete gets to your school and there aren’t any programs for them or anyone from their native country, they can feel alone and unsupported. But not in New York—that’s never a problem here. Some coaches think recruiting international players is unfair. What would you say to them? I don’t understand that. My teams have been able to accomplish great things because people from all over the world put aside their differences, put aside their language barriers, and came together to work toward a common goal. I think that’s a great statement, a great story, right there. Some people want scholarships to only go to American girls, but I think if an athlete is cleared by the NCAA, she should have an opportunity to get an education. How do you work with your assistants? When you’re a rookie coach, you want to do everything yourself, and I was no dif-

St. John’s advanced to the NCAA Division I Tournament’s Regional Finals last fall for the first time. Above, Casie Brooks and Latoya Blunt block a USC spike during the match.


ferent. When I first got assistants, I was afraid to delegate too much because I was used to doing it all myself. But over time I have surrounded myself with good people and we’ve learned to work together. What I had to realize is that as a coach, I’m good at some things but not so good at others, and that’s why I

have been doing with my teams for 13 years. And I still play—I’m the oldest participant in the Empire State Games, where the New York City women’s team I play on has won four consecutive gold medals. I’ve realized I don’t really like to exercise alone. I love the camaraderie and interaction of being on a team.

“We were the first American volleyball team to compete in Vietnam. We lost to their national team in the finals of the Vietnam Television Cup International Women’s Volleyball Tournament in front of 4,000 Vietnamese fans. It was crazy and great at the same time.” need assistant coaches. We’re all experts in different fields, which helps make us a consummate team. You lead extremely busy days. How do you balance everything on your plate? It’s a difficult challenge, that’s for sure. But I just want to do everything. It helps to exercise and do yoga, something I

It also helps to get out of the gym. I’m one of the few laywomen on the board of trustees at my old high school [St. Francis Prep in New York City], and I like to be on campus meeting people outside of athletics. That helps me to keep a good balance. And best of all, I work at a place where I can be myself and truly coach the way I want to.

What do you mean by being able to coach your own way? The goal of this program has never been just to win. The wins have come in the past few years, but that has never been where the emphasis is. The emphasis has been on trying to do things the right way: educating our athletes so they contribute in the community, in the classroom, and on the court. Sometimes coaches can get so caught up in the wins and losses that we forget what we’re really doing is teaching. I consider myself a teacher. So when we come home after a bad loss or even a great win and go out to do community service, that puts everything in perspective and we see what’s really important. St. John’s has allowed me to teach that my way. You recently traveled to Vietnam with your team—what was the trip like? It was a life-changing experience for all of us. I know many Americans have their own ideas of what Vietnam is like because of our country’s history there, but we were graciously hosted by the Vietnamese people. We found nothing but kindness, humility, and compassion.

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Q&A ever possible, and they’ve asked me to sing at the graduation mass and the endof-the-year ceremony for our studentathletes. People tease me that I’ve never seen a mic I didn’t like.

We were the first American volleyball team to compete there. We lost to the Vietnam national team in the finals of the Vietnam Television Cup International Women’s Volleyball Tournament in front of 4,000 Vietnamese fans. It was crazy and great at the same time.

I also make all of my players sing during preseason. They dread it. But it’s fun and a great bonding experience. I try to keep my life interesting!

What was your role on the AVCA TV Committee? Although my term has expired, I was honored to be a part of that group. When we formed that committee, there was no volleyball contract with CSTV [College Sports Television], and now there is. We’re really proud of how much exposure the sport has received.

What challenges do you see facing the sport of volleyball? One is getting the very best coaches we can at the grassroots level. Instead of just getting people to volunteer, we need to pay coaches so they can be serious about it and become qualified. Don’t get me wrong, volunteers are great and we need them too, but they don’t always have the right qualifications.

And I think being on TV is helping the growth of our sport. We’re getting better numbers at every match and there is more parity in the conferences around the country, which has helped make volleyball a viable, interesting product.

Another challenge is that club volleyball has become so expensive. It’s really a shame when a sport doesn’t allow everyone to participate because of economic

Do you really sing the national anthem at your matches? I sing at all the events I can at St. John’s. I sing at Madison Square Garden before the men’s basketball home games when-

reasons. We need to find some legal way, through sponsorships or fundraising, to make it affordable for everyone to play club volleyball. As college coaches recruiting, we really only go watch the club teams because we can see many, many talented kids at a club tournament, while at a high school match, we may only see one or two. Everyone should have the chance to be seen by a college coach. After your coaching success this year, have you thought about moving on? I’ve already had so many calls. I didn’t even realize that this is how it works—that they can call you when you already have a job! I don’t have a resume out there and I haven’t been on an interview in 14 years, so this has been a whole new game for me. I really love St. John’s, though. They took a chance on me as a young coach, and I feel a lot of loyalty to them. I’m honored to get those calls, but it would have to be something really, really special for me to leave because I built this program and I love it here.

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Coaches everywhere are taking new approaches to bringing large, Attracting families, new students, and fans of other sports

BY NATE DOUGHERTY WHEN THE GOAL IS TO FILL THE STANDS WITH LOUD, PUMPED-UP CROWDS, Creighton University Head Coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth offers a secret weapon: “The squeal of little kids is louder than anything you can imagine,” she says. After taking over a team in 2003 that averaged just a few hundred fans for home games, Booth helped turn that tenet into a marketing strategy. And it worked. The Bluejays cracked the top 20 in average attendance in NCAA Division I in 2007, and recorded the second-highest single-match attendance on Sept. 2


against Cal Poly. It was all done by marketing to families—with whom the team creates lasting connections. Her strategy is just one of many that volleyball coaches are testing out in their arenas. Whether you’re looking to attract families, students, or fans of other sports, there are a host of new ideas to choose from. Kids Place When she first took the job at Creighton, Booth sat down with a friend to brainstorm about how to bring more kids to games and connect them to

Bluejays players. What the two came up with was the Bluejay Buddies program, which offers any child in eighth grade or younger a season ticket, a Bluejays T-shirt, a ball, and admission to a clinic put on by the team for $25. Parents of Bluejay Buddies can buy season tickets for $30—they normally sell for $65—as long as they bring a child with them. “We also do group promotions, so almost every match there’s something Nate Dougherty is an Assistant Editor at Coaching Management. He can be reached at:


loud crowds to their volleyball games. s are all proving to be successful strategies.


Top photos, from left to right: Colorado State University fans celebrate their team’s victory over Ohio State on August 30. Creighton University players give T-shirt

autographs to their Bluejay Buddies after a game. Pittsburg State attracts international students by hosting a special night for them early in the season.

Center photo: Creighton packs its home arena, Qwest Center Omaha, with over 12,000 fans while hosting Nebraska in September 2006.



going on,” Booth says. “It can be Girl Scout night, YMCA night, or breast cancer awareness night. If we offer a great product to fans, they’ll come back, so we do whatever we can to accommodate them.” To keep the crowd entertained during breaks in the action, Creighton provides activities throughout the match. Between the second and third games, for instance, there might be a “Human Bowling Ball,” where a fan enters a huge inflatable ball and runs around trying to knock over giant pins. When the team returns to the court, the Bluejay Buddies form a human tunnel and players high-five the kids as they run by. One of the most popular promotions comes after the game, when the players remain in the arena for up to 45 minutes signing autographs. “A lot of other schools will have autograph sessions where the players just hang around the court, but we have them sit at a table, which makes it easier for shy kids to get in line,” Booth says. “It ensures there’s no uncomfortable feeling of having to approach the player to ask for an autograph.

“I let all the players know how important it is for them to make the kids feel special,” she continues. “I tell them, ‘Don’t just look down and sign your name. Make eye contact and take a few minutes to talk to them.’ I’ll often hear people in the community say how nice our players were to their child or friend. That goes a long way.” The connections Booth and her players create not only help fill up the stands, but also ensure the program’s viability in the future. “My staff and I hope to be here a long time, and we want second graders to dream about becoming Bluejays, just like the players they idolize now,” Booth says. “Eventually, that creates a buzz in the community and people want to be part of our program.” Volleyball Game Here The University of Nebraska has no special gimmicks to get fans to attend its matches. It doesn’t even have a marketing budget to promote the team. So how has it put together a string of 100plus sellouts and consistently packed the arena with raucous fans? Certainly, being a former national champion helps, but

Indiana University’s Assembly Hall was rocking Oct. 12 as the crowd continued to grow ever larger during the Hoosiers’ contest against Michigan State. By the end of the match, a school-record 11,086 fans were on their feet to cheer on the Indiana volleyball team. The atmosphere may not have been like a normal volleyball contest, but that’s because it was much more than just a match. It was part of Hoosier Hysteria, the much-anticipated first practice for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The volleyball match began at 6:30 p.m. and was followed by introductions, exhibitions, and scrimmages for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. “This event draws so well because we give fans a great overall experience with the volleyball match, some fun entertainment, and then the basketball teams coming out and going through their drills,” says Jeff Cieply, Marketing Director at Indiana.

according to Head Coach John Cook, it’s really the culmination of a long-running program to tap into the school’s other successful teams and make fans feel close to the action. “The phenomenon began 20 years ago, when the program first started piggybacking off our great football crowds,” Cook says. “The team would schedule matches for Saturday afternoons after home football games. Outside the stadium, the volleyball coach would put out a standboard sign that said, “Volleyball Game Here” with an arrow pointing to the arena. It also said they’d get in for a reduced price with their football ticket stub. As 70,000 people were leaving the football stadium, they saw this sign and it really started to get people in the door. “It was a risk, it was creative, and it worked,” he continues. “A lot of people who walked in didn’t know a thing about volleyball, but once they started watching, they were hooked. Just like in business, you have a better chance to sell your product if you can reach a larger audience. The more people walking by your sign, the better the odds are they’ll come in the door.”

“Hoosier Hysteria in general brings a young, highenergy, basketball-minded group who otherwise may not be attending our volleyball matches,” Cieply continues. “This helps expose the game to 10,000 new fans who can see how fast and athletic volleyball is.” Hoosier Hysteria this year also featured rapper and former Hoosiers’ football player Lance Bennett and a funny video to introduce him. And each of the volleyball players was introduced accompanied by lights and music. Cieply says an event like this could work for any school, even one where basketball isn’t such a passion, by attaching volleyball to another sport that already draws a crowd. “Here at Indiana, people are talking about Hoosier Hysteria for weeks leading up to the event, so it’s a natural fit to add the volleyball match,” he says. “You just have to find which sport this would work well for at your school.”


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It’s an approach the team still uses today with great success. And whether the football team wins or loses, the crowds are already in the mood to cheer on Huskers volleyball. “If the football team wins, the fans are naturally excited,” Cook says. “But even if they lose, fans come in so geared up, they don’t want volleyball to lose, too.” The team’s attendance strategy also involves the arena itself. The 4,030-seat

very special—besides being comfortable, the people in them are literally part of the action. They’re getting hit with volleyballs and players are diving into them. In the last three seasons only two of the 32 seats have become available.” Cook says volleyball also needs coaches willing to get out into the community. “If I break down my time, one third of it is spent coaching, another third is management, and the final third is spent in the community connecting—talking to groups and going to events,” he says. “As coaches, we might want to just work on X’s and O’s and have someone else handle the marketing duties, but it can’t be that way if we really want to draw good crowds. Volleyball coaches have to find ways to make those connections that get people to become fans.”

“Stand and Cheer with Gorilla Volleyball,” requires new students at Pittsburg State to attend the first match of the year as part of their freshman experience class. Coach Suberu even turns it into a competition, giving the professor who brings the most students a chance to sit on the bench as a guest coach. Nebraska Coliseum creates an intimate environment where fans feel connected to what’s happening on the court. “Volleyball is a sport that needs to be played in an arena where fans are close to the action,” Cook says. “You want them to be right next to the court so they can appreciate the speed and athleticism of the game. That creates a great environment.” Cook says small changes can also help fans feel like they’re part of the action. Before home matches, for instance, the Huskers announce every player on the team and have them throw an autographed ball into the crowd. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, ‘Wow, I caught Sarah Pavan’s ball,’” Cook says. “It makes people feel special and creates another connection between the players and the crowd. “In the last few years we’ve also put in 32 courtside seats that cost ticket buyers $2,500 for the season,” he continues. “They are nice leather chairs that are 20

Reaching Out to Students When Head Coach Ibraheem Suberu took over at Pittsburg State University, attendance was near the bottom of NCAA Division II. But Suberu knew he could bring those numbers up by doing some simple outreach to students on campus, and thanks to those efforts, the Gorillas have led the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in attendance for the past six seasons. Suberu started by using his position as a professor to bring new students out to Gorillas games. He worked with faculty members to come up with a program called “Stand and Cheer with Gorilla Volleyball,” which requires new students to attend the first match of the year as part of their freshman experience class. Suberu even turns it into a competition, giving the professor who brings the most students a chance to sit on the bench as a guest coach. “As part of welcoming students to the university, professors put on their syllabi that they have to attend the match,” Suberu says. “This game becomes a social interaction that allows our students to get to know each other and the faculty. Because the professor who brings the most students gets to be a guest coach, they’re all working very hard to get everyone to the game.” And it works, usually bringing 90

percent of the freshman class to the match. Though it helps being a professor himself, Suberu says any coach can reach out to faculty to get them involved in the program. “The stronger the relationship coaches have with faculty, the better we can connect them and their students to our program,” Suberu says. “It’s also a big plus for our student-athletes to see their professors in the stands cheering them on.” To keep students coming back, Suberu makes sure the program gives them what they want most. “We do a lot of giveaways—things like T-shirts and coupons from local businesses,” Suberu says. “Students know that when they come to one of our matches, they’ll have an opportunity to watch good volleyball and also be able to pick up some free things. For students, anything free is good.” Suberu also taps into the fact that volleyball is the second most popular sport in terms of participation worldwide. “Typically we have 400 to 500 international students at Pittsburg State every year, and all of them know volleyball as a global sport,” he says. “So we work with our International Student Association to make sure there’s a volleyball game on its list of activities every year.” The game then turns into an unofficial welcome party for the international students, who are encouraged to bring flags and wear traditional clothes from their countries. “The turnout is always great on that night, and between game two and three our director of international students acknowledges the contributions of the international students to our community,” Suberu says. “After the game we set aside time for players and students to mingle, which helps them develop relationships.” Suberu says putting more fans in the seats has in turn led to more wins for the team. “Having such a great atmosphere has helped us with recruiting because when prospects see 1,000 people in the stands shouting and having a great time, it makes a big difference,” he says. “Historically, our sport is not one that school organizations put on their calendar like they would for basketball or football games,” Suberu continues. “But any coach can tap into the student community to set up programs like we’ve done. Every organization you make a



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connection with has the potential to increase attendance.” A Social Event La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, Calif., takes a similar approach, making its volleyball matches as much a social engagement as a sporting event. “I’ve been to a lot of high school games where only the parents show up to cheer,” says Head Coach Pat McDougal.

my players during warmups, and when his players show up he makes sure to talk to them.” Those connections have helped bring some of La Costa Canyon’s rowdiest fans—many of the “Noise Boyz” are from the boys’ volleyball team. They, in turn, recruit friends from other teams to go to the games. In the stands, they make up cheers and throw T-shirts into the crowd. The trend has caught on, with one of La Costa Canyon’s rivals adopting its own version of the “Noise Boyz.” The “Sha-Booya” dance helps make players from all three teams feel part of something larger. “There are many programs where the freshman, j.v., and varsity teams are separate entities, but that’s not what it’s like here,” McDougal says. “Because of the way we connect the teams, the freshman and j.v. parents stay for the varsity game and are very vocal. It helps to create that supportive atmosphere for the entire program.” The gametime fun didn’t come overnight, but was the result of years of careful attention to fans’ responses. “When trying to get this kind of crowd for your games, the important thing is to start small,” McDougal says. “Do little things to promote the team and build from there. Anything you do to make it more exciting, like having players throw signed balls into the stands, goes a long way. It’s so much more fun when you have crowds like we do—there’s really no comparison.”

“If you can get someone handling music and a good PA announcer, the environment becomes so much more fun, and that creates tradition. We have a promotion in which every time we successfully block for a point, we throw a prize into the stands. That really gets fans excited and cheering for our blocks.” “Here, we make volleyball games more of a social event so the spectators feel like they’re coming to a party.” A group of raucous students known as “The Noise Boyz” don crazy hats and glasses and make dramatic entrances. Before the game, players from the school’s freshman, j.v., and varsity teams huddle around each other and do the “Sha-booya” dance, with each player coming up with a cheer to rhyme with her name. And once the match has ended, the fans and players stick around to eat pizza and mingle. The atmosphere doesn’t come without some work from McDougal and his team. On gamedays, student-athletes make a video message to hype the event, and McDougal communicates with the boys’ coach to make sure the teams are supporting each other. “The boys’ varsity coach encourages his players to go to the games, and he’ll sit on the bench with me,” says McDougal. “He’ll also toss some balls to 22

The Right Channels Colorado State University Head Coach Tom Hilbert knows his team’s games offer fast-paced action, great bursts of athleticism, and athletes who are accessible to fans. But he also knows that getting the word out about his program is a big part of getting more bodies in the stands. So he taps into a number of channels that let potential fans become aware of the excitement the games offer. “An important first step in trying to get people to come to games is to attract credibility, and the way you get that is through the media,” Hilbert says. “You have to talk to beat writers—call

and remind them there’s a match this weekend against a big rival. You need to reach out because the media is not used to giving that kind of attention to volleyball. “I also spend a lot of time year-round speaking to community groups,” he continues. “If I talk to 70 people in a Rotary Club and five of those people come to our game, that works to build our base. Those people talk to other people, and word spreads. Find out who is willing to help you spread the word.” To reach a broader audience, the team offers family nights featuring ticket and concessions packages and sells group tickets to major employers in the area. Because both the volleyball and women’s basketball teams share a similar marketing strategy—selling the athletes as good students and role models—the two share contact lists and marketing information. Hilbert also uses student-athletes as ambassadors. “There’s an event in our community called ‘Neighborhood Night Out’ when there are block parties and ice cream socials throughout the city,” Hilbert says. “We have pairs of studentathletes hit two parties each, passing out schedule cards and shaking hands. “When people in the community get to know these young ladies, they become real fans, not fair-weather fans who just come when we win,” Hilbert says. “It’s important for student-athletes to know that every time they’re out in the community, they’re building bridges and making friends for our program.” From there, Hilbert makes sure he’s delivering a product that will keep fans engaged. “You want to pay careful attention to the experience you’re offering them,” Hilbert says. “I get the school band for one game a year, and I’ve been advocating that we need them more often. If you can get someone handling music and a good PA announcer, the environment becomes so much more fun, and that creates tradition. We have a promotion in which every time we successfully block for a point, we throw a prize into the stands. That really gets fans excited and cheering for our blocks. “You’ve got to make your volleyball game a fun and interactive event,” he adds. “If someone is new to volleyball, they will love watching the sport, but it makes the experience that much better if you do a lot of great extra things.” ■

Ofcial Net System of the AVCA

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Ofcial Net System of the NCAA Championships

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FACELESS NEW WORLD For student-athletes, social networking Web sites mean anonymity and zero responsibility. That’s why it’s critical to educate them on this hugely popular new form of communication.



s the Medfield (Mass.) High School football team prepped for a game against one of its rivals two years ago, Athletic Director Jon Kirby was preparing the best he could to encourage a good atmosphere for the big game. Student fans had been reminded to exhibit positive sportsmanship in the stands, efforts were made to welcome and accommodate the visiting team, and extra security was arranged. But what Kirby wasn’t prepared for was what was happening on the Internet. Unbeknownst to administrators or coaches, a bevy of online

taunting was being exchanged on social networking Web sites among students and student-athletes from both schools. At one point, some of Medfield’s football players were even threatened by a student from the rival school. “A lot of people in my generation have no idea how much of a swamp social networking sites can become, and how prevalent this kind of chirping between players can be,” says Kirby. “As I look at the developments on the Internet that have occurred in just the last couple years, Nate Dougherty is an Assistant Editor at Coaching Management. He can be reached at:



I see a monster that’s difficult to tame. It’s something that we as athletic administrators and coaches need to address.” Social networking sites like MySpace. com and have arrived and there are many more on the way. Like any new form of communication, these sites can be used for purposes good and bad. The challenge for athletic administrators and coaches is learning how to deal with them—today and in the future.

As a result of the concept’s popularity, new places for student-athletes to connect on the Web are continually popping up. Many of them take the same general format as MySpace and Facebook, offering a place to create personal profiles where users can share photos, keep journals, and send messages to friends. But in the last year, several new sites have emerged that cater specifically to high school and college athletes. These sites allow athletes to share game videos, stats, and team The Good News schedules, and connect with teammates For most people over 25, the appeal and competitors alike. of social networking sites can be a bit of For example, was a mystery. But for today’s young people, founded as a way for fans and athletes to they are a powerful social tool and a part connect and share game video as well as of their culture. chat with professional athletes and scouts online., launched in September 2006 for subscribers to Stack magazine, follows the style “If you think about it, of MySpace but caters to the high sports are the oldest school athlete. Birnbaum’s site, Takkle, went online in December and most powerful form 2006, allowing high school athletes of social networking there to share videos and join specialis. Athletes have been interest groups to discuss topics like strength training and pregame interacting with rivals ... stretching. for as long as sports have Birnbaum says while some emerging social networking sites try been played.” to mimic Facebook and MySpace, the prevailing trend is to think smaller. “A lot of the newer social Barbara Walker, Senior Associate networking sites that are competing with Athletic Director at Wake Forest University, MySpace are probably going to be shortsays she has come to understand why lived, because try as they might, they’re they’ve gained such widespread use. “I not going to replace MySpace,” he says. remember sitting in a meeting about “In time, I think the sites that cater to a year ago when someone brought up a specific interest will be the successful Facebook and all the things students are ones.” able to do on it,” she says. “I had never And both athletes and coaches are heard of Facebook before, and it was news starting to find a wealth of positive applito me how prevalent it was. But now that cations for the niche student-athlete sites, I’ve learned more about it, I’m not sur- with recruiting at the top of the list. Many prised how popular it is. The concept is sites offer high school athletes the chance fun, and what a great way to stay in touch to upload profiles of themselves, includwith friends. Used innocently, it can be a ing statistics and video clips, that can be great way to communicate.” accessed by college coaches. To David Birnbaum, co-founder of “This is an opportunity for athletes to the high school sports networking site showcase their skills on a national stage,”, the sites are really an exten- Birnbaum says. “It also provides a convesion of the communication athletes have nient place for recruiters to find athletes, always participated in. “If you think about especially those outside of the major it, sports are the oldest and most pow- sports who otherwise might not receive erful form of social networking there the exposure. We don’t see ourselves as a is,” Birnbaum says. “Athletes have been recruiting site, but we offer the technolinteracting with rivals and searching for ogy for the two groups to access informainformation on their opponents for as tion about each other.” long as sports have been played.” New NCAA Division I rules that pro26

hibit coaches from sending text messages to recruits also prohibit communications from a coach to a recruit on social networking sites. But these sites may still be used to share video highlights and statistics, and Division II and III face no such restrictions, at least for now. Another interesting new site is Career, which provides college athletes a chance to reach recruiters of another kind—those from the job world. Used by over 40 colleges and universities, the site allows student-athletes to build profiles and connect with potential employers and alumni athletes who serve as job mentors. More good news is that many of these up-and-coming sites include a level of oversight not present on Facebook and MySpace. For example, before joining Career Athletes, student-athletes have to register and have their information certified. “There is a qualification page that must be completed, which provides an element of control to the institution by keeping records and dates of athletes’ acceptance of rules regarding student-athlete employment,” says Russ Hafferkamp, founder of Career Athletes. “Also, we lay out rules for employers and mentors who use the site. If a bad actor emerges, you can excise them from your site.” On Takkle, a “trash talk” section allows athletes the chance to compliment or playfully goad opponents, but Birnbaum says the site keeps strict control over what is said and anonymous posts are not allowed. “We have very rigid terms and conditions, so what they write can’t be abusive,” Birnbaum says. “If it is, they’re kicked off the site.” Addressing Online Issues While some of the newer niche sites may be just what coaches have been waiting for, the larger no-holds-barred social sites are still part of the picture, and they must be reckoned with. The majority of the problems arise when student-athletes act in irresponsible ways on these sites, believing they are in a private arena. The incident at Medfield High School is one prime example. Kirby says he and other administrators were not sure how to handle the online taunting, and it mainly raised awareness of the problem. Eventually Medfield’s league addressed the seriousness of online threats with coaches, and the school now educates its

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student-athletes about the dangers these sites can pose and their liability for what they post. John Johnson, Communications Director at the Michigan High School Athletic Association, says though these incidents may take place from the privacy of the students’ homes and far from the field of play, they should be treated the same as any conduct code violation. “At the end of the day, these online taunting incidents boil down to code of conduct issues, and

says that any inappropriate information found through social networking sites would give the athletic department the right to begin an investigation. Then, we will take each situation case-by-case.” Other schools have also wrestled with using information from social networking sites to prove that a student-athlete has broken a conduct code. At Turpin High School in Cincinnati, administrators recently received an anonymous package filled with pictures of students misbehaving taken from the students’ own profiles on social networking sites, and Athletic Director “We tell our athletes Tony Hemmelgarn says he wasn’t about the pitfalls of these quite sure how to respond. “Some places take the stance sites ... We show them that if these comments or pictures examples of the fallout come in anonymously, you should ignore them or throw them away,” that’s occurred from Hemmelgarn says. “We worked with something posted, and our school board and district attorney and decided it’s not right to just we hope that sets an look the other way. If you have a picexample for them to ture right in front of you that shows something illegal, it’s impossible to make the right choices.” just block it from your mind.” At the college level, many atha number of schools now include refer- letic departments are curtailing these ences to online behavior in their codes,” types of problems by being proactive Johnson says. “Schools are becoming about the issues that arise from social much more consistent in communicating networking sites. Some schools have forthat when you’re a student-athlete, you bidden athletes from participating in represent the school everywhere you go, these sites entirely, but most have instead and that includes cyberspace.” developed policies for how their studentAt McCutcheon High School in athletes are allowed to use the tool. Lafayette, Ind., administrators had a At Wake Forest, administrators develslightly different problem to deal with. oped a policy that they’ve included as a There, photographs of several athletes section of the athlete’s Pledge of Ethical making obscene gestures while in uniform Conduct and Sportsmanship. It states popped up on social networking profiles. that no comments or pictures they deem The students were each suspended for two inappropriate may be posted, and that athletic contests for violating the school’s violations can put athletic scholarships conduct code, and Athletic Director Tim in jeopardy. It also reminds athletes that Slauter realized a more comprehensive though they may feel the content they policy was needed. First and foremost, post is only for their friends, many othadministrators had to decide exactly what ers—including potential employers and conduct would be deemed inappropriate. online predators—also have access. “Obviously, situations showing an indi“Our policy is mainly designed to let vidual with an alcoholic beverage or illicit them know there is a concern for them, drugs or drug paraphernalia are dealt there is a danger, and they should be with specifically in our code of conduct,” careful what they’re posting and who Slauter says. “But beyond that, we were they’re exposing their personal informaworried about making the policy too spe- tion to,” Walker says. cific. Our district’s attorney warned that it may be difficult to prove a photo hasn’t Education is Key been altered or that it was definitely the Kathleen “Rocky” LaRose, Senior student who wrote something inappropri- Associate Athletic Director at the University ate, so we left the policy more general. It of Arizona, feels schools should not regu28

late this area too much. “Social networking sites are a part of their social structure, and we don’t feel it’s right to take it away from them,” she says. “These sites are not illegal, and they are going to be part of their lives whether we like it or not.” That’s why Arizona stresses education, showing student-athletes how vulnerable personal information can be on social networking sites, as well as the repercussions for posting anything inappropriate. “We’re part of an institution of higher learning, and part of our responsibility is to teach students,” says LaRose. “They need to experience things on their own and learn how to make the right choices. For more and more students, the sites have already been a large part of their lives for quite a few years. But they need to know how to use them appropriately.” To stress good behavior, Arizona coaches and administrators show student-athletes the consequences suffered by others who have misbehaved. They pull high-profile examples from other schools where student actions—like posting pictures of parties with alcohol present—have drawn headlines and disciplinary action. “We tell all of our athletes about the pitfalls of these sites, particularly the trouble student-athletes have gotten into at other schools,” LaRose says. “We show them examples of the fallout that’s occurred because of those actions, and we hope that sets an example for them to make the right choices.” At Turpin, Hemmelgarn educates his student-athletes (and their parents) about the issue at the preseason meeting. “We let them know the kinds of things that have been done before by kids and the trouble that can result,” Hemmelgarn says. “We also let them know exactly what the consequences are if they break the rules. “But we temper that statement by explaining we’re trying to create a positive environment,” Hemmelgarn continues. “You want to help students learn for themselves, and we let them know we’re in this together. We remind them how much they love participating in their sport, how much time and effort they put in to get to the level they’re at, and what a shame it would be if one bad decision took that away.” ■ A version of this article was previously published in our sister publication, Athletic Management.

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BALANCED ATTACK To train athletes in agility and balance, many coaches are using unstable surfaces. Here’s how to make the idea work for your program.


BY VERN GAMBETTA FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, I first experimented with unstable surfaces, and I very quickly liked what I saw. I noticed that athletes rehabbing ankle sprains and ACL tears with unstable surfaces seemed to have better functional balance and body control. I felt that if we could incorporate what they had done in rehab into training for healthy athletes, we should see similar gains. Initially, this was the case. I did not devote much time to this training, maybe five or 10 minutes a day, but seemed to get good returns. As often happens, I decided that more had to be better. So I began to seek out more exotic unstable surfaces—the more unstable the better. At the time, it seemed to be a great way to achieve overload. But as I continued to experiment with the concept, I became uncomfortable with the direction I was heading. I Vern Gambetta is the President of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla., and a frequent contributor to Coaching Management. His daily thoughts on training athletes can be viewed on his blog at:



saw that instead of making the athletes better, all the work on unstable surfaces was taking them further and further away from the performance arena. They were learning tricks, not functional movements. The exercises became an end to themselves. Since my introduction to them, unstable surfaces have become very popular. Coaches use them in many different situations, but not always with a lot of thought behind their purpose. In this article, I hope to bring a degree of sanity—and balance—to the use of unstable surfaces. What Is the Goal? Most of the research regarding the use of unstable surfaces comes from the rehabilitation arena. There is good evidence to suggest that these surfaces are effective for both injury prevention and rehab situations. The November 2001 issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy includes a very good article on ACL injury prevention through a balance routine. High level soccer players were given a 20minute workout, performed daily, using apparatuses like a K-board and wobble board. Of the 300 players who performed

the exercises, 10 suffered ACL injuries over the next three seasons compared to 70 in the control group, which also consisted of 300 athletes. The authors’ theory was that using these two pieces of equipment produced quick ankle movements similar to those that occur on the field at the time of an ACL injury. The sensory input in terms of improved kinesthetic sense and improved proprioception was thought to help prevent the injury. The results were pretty convincing and showed a good return on the time invested using simple exercises. Athletic trainers and physical therapists have also made great progress in using unstable surfaces for rehab. Many articles promote the use of rehab protocols that utilize unstable surfaces. The key in rehab is that the devices produce controlled instability and exercises are performed in a very systematic and progressive manner. However, the question I want to explore is: How can unstable surfaces best be used to enhance performance? There is not much hard data in this area, and most results are basically anecdotal. To start, let’s ask ourselves why we would deviate from a flat surface in our

training. What is the goal of using an unstable surface? In most cases, we are trying to challenge the proprioceptive system and thus make it better. When the body senses a change in surface, it will self-correct to achieve appropriate positions for the movement. These rapid adjustments are based on the proprioceptive input that detects speed and stretch. The body’s proprioceptors act as very sophisticated motion sensors, and it is this motion detection function that we are attempting to train by using uneven surfaces. If we can improve body awareness and spatial awareness, the result should be an athlete who has more balance and more athleticism on the field of play. But how unstable should the surface be to challenge our athletes? An unstable surface is any surface that the body perceives as unstable. In fact, the body is sensitive to even small changes in surface. To the eye, a surface may appear stable, but if the body proprioceptively perceives it as unstable, it is. In most sports, including volleyball, the surface is quite stable. If we train our athletes on surfaces that differ too much from the normal competition surface, there is a risk of developing a skill set

The following is a sample workout using unstable surfaces during one full week of training. MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, AND FRIDAY Single-squat balance: Do a one-leg squat with focus on balance. Balance shift: Hold each of the following positions for 10 counts: ■ Shift from the center. The upper body should be quiet. ■ Step right shifting weight onto right leg. ■ Step left shifting weight onto left leg. ■ Step forward shifting weight onto right leg.

Step forward shifting weight onto left leg. ■ Step back shifting weight onto right leg. ■ Step back shifting weight onto left leg. ■

Wobble board storks (Advanced): Stand on one leg with the non-support leg bent. Hands should be out in front or overhead. Perform a single-leg squat by balancing on one leg and squatting down, proportionally bending at the ankle, knee, and


TUESDAY AND THURSDAY Wobble board rolls: With both feet on the board, rotate clockwise touching the edges of the board. Repeat counterclockwise.

hip and holding the non-supporting leg flexed with thigh parallel to the ground. Hold at the bottom position for 10 counts. Use three different positions: ■ Straight ahead (free leg pointing straight ahead). ■ Side (free leg reaching out to side with knee straight). ■ Rotation (free leg rotating at hip to face to side).

BOSU rolls: Use the same instructions as for wobble board rolls, using a BOSU ball.

Wobble board rolls

BOSU single-leg balance: Balance on one leg in the middle of the board.



that is not needed. If the stability gains do not transfer to the court, it is a waste of time to develop them. A good example is training athletes to balance while standing on a physioball. Except for a very few sports, there is no carryover. It is a discrete skill that does not translate to a sport skill. That time would be better spent doing more sportappropriate activities. New Thinking I’m not trying to say that unstable surface training is inherently bad. First of all, it has a definite place in injury prevention and rehab. Second, I still agree with the idea of developing proprioception through unstable surfaces. However, I would urge you to think deeply about any unstable surface you are training with and why. When it comes to performance enhancement, the key is the application. Will the movement transfer? Is the movement sport appropriate? If it is sport appropriate, it will have some carry-over to the sport. A quick rule of thumb I use is: If the athlete has to spend undue amounts of time learning a new skill set in order to train with unstable surfaces, it is not sport appropriate. By a new skill set, I mean skills that exaggerate movement through significantly larger amplitudes and speeds that are not similar to sport movements. And just looking similar to sport movements is not good enough. The speed and angles must be in the range that will be used on the playing surface. To use unstable surfaces in a way that will transfer to improved performance, a sound approach is to begin to create instability through movement itself. In many cases, the normal environment is enough. Just stepping and hopping, and jumping and sticking the landing, are two examples. Then, you might progress to using an inclined surface like a hill. Next, consider employing a few environmental modifiers. An environmental modifier is anything that creates an increased proprioceptive demand and also transfers to the movements of the sport. So the question you must ask yourself is: What will transfer? And what will create a skill set that doesn’t transfer? Success or failure in most ground sports depends on how effectively athletes are able to use the surface they compete and train on. The surface


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can give back energy or dampen force. When you consider unstable surfaces, use those that teach the athlete how to use the surface to his or her advantage. Explore the simple and obvious before going to the complex. For example,

Working barefoot will have a quick and obvious transfer. Ready to Wobble With an understanding of the true purpose of unstable surfaces for per-

K-boards are nice for side-to-side instability. The pivot point of the board allows movement in the frontal plane only. Use them for static balance in an athletic stance with the knees slightly bent. Build up to three to five 10-second holds without the edges of the board touching the floor. shoes are worn to protect the foot during ground contact. Therefore, perhaps the simplest way to increase instability is to do some activities barefoot. Because of the abundance of proprioceptors in the bottom of the foot, this affords the possibility for heightened sensory input.

formance enhancement—as well as the limitations—you can start incorporating them into your workouts. In most cases, they should be placed within the body of the actual workout, probably done alongside agility work or lower-body strength training.

Let’s take a look at a sampling of unstable surfaces coaches use for training: Sand is a viable unstable surface, although it has some limitations. On the positive side, it enables big angles and aggressive movements that allow the athlete to push the edge. The primary downside is that the softness of the sand slows everything down significantly. It dampens the elastic response, which is both a plus and a minus. It is a plus because it develops good concentric strength response. It is a minus because it negates elastic response, so it is not real life. Large pits, such as high jump and pole vault pits, dampen impact and should not be used extensively. The depth of the pits virtually eliminates any elastic response, and work done in them will be dominated by concentric muscle action. Pits are good for repetitive jumping, some running in place, and some planting and cutting, but I do not use them more than twice a week for a six-week block of training. And I always follow any pit work with one or two drills on a stable surface.



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Trampolines are obviously bouncy and very responsive, which is good for body awareness and control. A trampoline is a good surface to work on landing and sticking a position to create stability. Exercise floors are very springy surfaces, which provide a very predictable response with some give. They are a good surface to work on barefoot. Wrestling mats are not as responsive as exercise floors, but are another good surface for barefoot work. They can also be used for multidirectional activities because of the size of the mats. Foam pads, especially those that are small and high-density, are good for static balance activities. The level of instability can also be easily controlled by using different pads. K-boards are nice for side-to-side instability. The pivot point of the board allows movement in the frontal plane only. Use them for static balance in an athletic stance with the knees slightly bent. Build up to three to five 10-second holds without the edges of the board touching the floor. Another good exercise is a single-leg balance with the foot parallel to the pivot point. Hold 10 seconds, switch legs, and repeat three times. Repeat movements with the foot perpendicular to the pivot point. Wobble boards have a pivot allowing 360-degree movement, which creates rotational instability. Here are three drills to use: ■ Standing on the board with two feet, rotate the board 360 degrees clockwise touching all the edges. Repeat counterclockwise. ■ Standing on the board with two feet touching the edge of the board, move feet to 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and then 9 o’clock. Repeat back, reversing the order. ■ Do a single-leg balance in the middle of the board. Hold 10 seconds, then switch legs. Do three 10-second holds with each leg. BOSU balance trainers can be used like the wobble boards, with the same exercises. Using the flat side allows 360 degrees of motion as well as a tipping effect. The degree of instability is determined by how inflated the BOSU is. Most of the time it should be fairly well inflated. Leather medicine balls are great to step on to and off of, or from one to

another in a stepping stones pattern. They are very effective when combined with several BOSUs. Balance beams allow movements forward, back, and side to side. They are also an effective platform for performing single-leg squats. The edges of the beam should be beveled to create a bit more instability. The key to using unstable surfaces is understanding that not all apparatuses are appropriate for all situations. A good

craftsman knows how to effectively use the tools in the toolbox—a hammer cannot replace a screwdriver. These surfaces and apparatus are analogous to the skilled craftsman’s tools for the coach. Use them sensibly, remember more is certainly not better, and be very specific about your goals. ■ A version of this article was previously published in our sister publication, Training & Conditioning.

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Both the Gold and Silver models of the Volleyball Tutor can vary ball trajectory and speed to produce any desired set or pass while delivering serves at speeds up to 60 mph. The Gold model can automatically throw six volleyballs at intervals ranging from five to 20 seconds. The unit is completely portable and is available with either AC or battery power. The Silver model’s release point is 5-1/2 feet high, and it features a separate dial to control the amount of topspin and underspin. Volleyball Tutor models start under $1,000. Circle No. 507

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The new Tandem Block Blaster is a training tool that gives coaches the freedom to develop individual hitting techniques and defensive strategies with a hands-free approach. Attaching directly to the net, this two-piece system can be positioned based on the objective of the drill. By simulating a solid block, hitters learn to see and hit around the block, thus improving overall ball control. The Tandem Block Blaster can also be used to practice block coverage and defensive positioning. Circle No. 508

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Skill Attack Volleyball Machine Unique features: • Utilizes wheels to propel the volleyball, not air to launch or toss it • With a ball release point of five feet, it offers a full range of spins to deliver every type of drill from the same side of the net with power and accuracy Benefits for the user: • Can quickly be rolled anywhere on the court • Wheels are by far the most efficient, most popular method of providing ball control, spin, speed, and trajectory • Unit breaks down instantly for easy transportation in the trunk of any car

Sports Attack 800-717-4251 Circle No. 512





105. . . Active Ankle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 122. . . Airborne Athletics

(AirCAT) .

. . . . . . . BC




521. . . Active Ankle

(All-Sport Chameleon)

520 . . Active Ankle

(Volt ankle brace)




. . . 40

542 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

. . . . . . 40

504 . . Rip Tide Volleyball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

116 . . . Bison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

500 . . Airborne Athletics

(AirCAT) .

107. . . Blazer Mfg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

501. . . Airborne Athletics

(NetworKs) .

117 . . . California University of Pennsylvania . . 34

528. . . Bison

(Net Tape)

110 . . . Cramer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

509 . . Bison

(Storage System) .

115 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

527. . . Bison


120. . . Kalbree Sports Equipment . . . . . . . 43

530 . . Blazer Mfg. (Power Volleyball System) . . . . 41

514 . . . Spike Volleyball

(Matrix Zeus) .

108 . . Mateflex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

529 . . Blazer Mfg. (VB Net Winder/Antenna Cart) . 41

513 . . . Spike Volleyball

(Ichiban volleyballs).

109. . . Mueller Sports Medicine . . . . . . . . . 19

538 . . California University of Pennsylvania . . 43

506 . . Sports Attack (Attack II Volleyball Machine) . . 36

119 . . . Power Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

523 . . Cramer

(AS1 ankle brace) .

. . . . . . . . . . 40

505 . . Sports Attack (Attack Volleyball Machine) . . . 36

118 . . . Rip Tide Volleyball . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

522 . . Cramer

(Power Lacer ankle brace)

. . . . . 40

512 . . . Sports Attack (Skill Attack) . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

106. . . Schelde North America . . . . . . . . . . 12

502 . . Dimensional Software (TapRecorder) . . 36

537. . . Sports Imports

(Stealth) .

121 . . . Spalding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IBC

503 . . Dimensional Software (Volleyball Ace) . 36

536 . . Sports Imports

(upright pads) .

100 . . Spike Volleyball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IFC

543 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

507 . . Sports Tutor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

102. . . Sports Attack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

531. . . Kalbree Sports Equipment . . . . . . . 41

515 . . . Volleyball Market

(Asics Spring line)

111 . . . Sports Imports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

532 . . Mateflex


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

516 . . . Volleyball Market

(Budget Saver)

104. . . Sports Tutor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

533 . . Mateflex


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

518 . . . Wilson

(i-COR Power Touch)

112 . . . TapRecorder/Volleyball ACE . . . . . . 24

524. . . Mueller

(LifeCare for Her) .

517 . . . Wilson

(Intelligent Core) .

113 . . . Volleyball Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

539 . . Mueller


101. . . Wilson Sporting Goods . . . . . . . . . . . 3

541. . . Power Systems

(Elite Power Med-Ball)

103. . . Worldwide Sport Supply . . . . . . . . . . 6

540 . . Power Systems

(Power-Plyo Boxes)

. . . . . . . 36

511 . . . Schelde

(Carbon Pro) .

. . . . . 36

534 . . Schelde

(Portable Pro) .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

535 . . Schelde

(Telescopic Pro)

. . . . . . . . . . . . 42 . . . . . . . . . . . 42

. . . . . . . . . . . . 37

526. . . Spalding

(product line)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

525 . . Spalding

(volleyball equipment)

. . . . . . . . . . 40

. . . . . . . . . . . . 41 . . . . . . 41 . . . . . . 39 . . 39

. . . . . . . . . . 42 . . . . . . 42 . . 39

. . . . 39

. . . . . . . . . 39

. . . . . . . . . . . 39

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

510 . . . Worldwide Sport Supply (Active Ankle Volt) . 37

. 43

508 . . Worldwide Sport Supply (Tandem Block Blaster) 36

. . . 43

519 . . . Worldwide Sport Supply (Tornado 3) . . . 39

INFORMATION TO HELP YOUR ATHLETES SUCCEED ON AND OFF THE FIELD Introducing a NEW Web site for coaches The latest and most innovative ideas on how to be a great coach in any sport:

Training Tips and Advice Instructional Video Clips Motivational Tools Student-Athlete Welfare Communicate and Learn From Other Coaches

Coaching oachingM Management 38 CM1801-WebPromo-HALF.indd 1

3/17/08 12:33:04 PM

Team Equipment Spike Volleyball 800-SPIKE-IT Spike Volleyball is your exclusive source for Ichiban volleyballs. They feature super-soft composite leather for camp, instructional, recreational, or competitive use. These volleyballs are available in black, navy, royal, red, and pink. As a coaches’ special, you can buy five Ichiban balls and get the sixth free. Ichiban volleyballs are now in stock at Spike Volleyball—your source for ever ything volleyball. Circle No. 513 Spike Volleyball offers the exclusive Matrix Zeus fitted sleeveless jersey. This revolutionar y jersey has highper formance Adrenaline fabric for a per fect fit and feel. It’s a great look for ever y school team, club team, and camp. Team pricing for 12 or more units is just $19.99 each. Uniform packages are available for as low as $34.99. More than 20,000 jerseys are now in stock. Circle No. 514 Volleyball Market 866-999-3004 The Volleyball Market, known as one of America’s premier volleyball authorities, has joined with Asics America to present the Asics Spring 2008 volleyball line. This line features two new jerseys and one new short for men (BT801 Rotation jersey, BT802 Attacker jersey, BT880 Player 10 short); three

new volleyball jerseys for women (BT850 Setter jersey, BT851 Assist jersey, BT750 Salima long sleeve jersey); a new warmup in both men’s and women’s sizes (Hurdle jacket/pant); a new Team Micro Fleece jacket (YT813); and an outstanding new volleyball shoe (GEL-VolleyCross) available for both men and women in seven different color combinations. For complete details, including available colors, introductory team pricing, special programs for colleges, and availability dates, contact the Volleyball Market today. Be sure to ask about the company’s exclusive free sample evaluation program. Circle No. 515 The Volleyball Market’s exclusive Budget Saver custom teamwear program has been expanded for 2008. The program utilizes durable, heavyweight 100-percent cotton T-shirts and cozy fleece that’s screen printed in your team colors. For as little as $9.97 per player, you can outfit your team in two-color Match Ts, which include the team name and consecutive four-inch to six-inch numbers on the front and back. Team or practice T-shirts run as low as $3.97 for a one-color print on a white body, $4.97 on a gray body, or just $5.97 on a colored body. Team fleece hoodies are available for just $19.47 with a one-color print. Camp T-shirts based on classic template designs are available for as little as $3.97 with a one-color print, or $5.97 with a two- or three-color print. Coming soon is a line of team bags and backpacks that will cost as little as $18.97 and include your team name. Circle No. 516 Wilson Sporting Goods 773-714-6400 Wilson® Intelligent Core (i-COR) indoor volleyballs react to the task at hand, delivering optimal control for passing and digging, while also delivering superior velocity. Developed with the help of Wilson advisory staff members and top college programs, i-COR

volleyballs excel at the highest levels of play, with unrivaled performance, touch, and durability. The Wilson i-COR High Performance volleyball features a Japanese full-grain leather cover and is available in traditional white, white/ red/blue, and white/blue/silver. Circle No. 517 The Wilson i-COR™ Power Touch volleyball is a top-quality volleyball that offers the perfect balance of control and power, while providing the durability and shape retention coaches demand. It was developed with elite volleyball players in mind and engineered to allow optimal passing and digging. The i-COR Power Touch volleyball has a micro-fiber composite leather cover and is available in a multitude of color options, including traditional white, white/black, white/ green, white/navy, white/orange, white/ purple, white/royal, white/scarlet, and white/red/blue. Circle No. 518 Worldwide Sport Supply 800-756-3555 Worldwide Sport Supply specializes in volleyball footwear. Mizuno’s new Tornado 3 will hit the courts hard this

spring, with Infinity Wave technology and superior performance cushioning. Stylish and sleek, this shoe does more than just look good. Its shock-absorbing cushioning system eases the blow from repetitive jumping and hard landings. The Tornado 3 is lightweight, well-ventilated, and even boasts an abrasionresistant collar lining for improved durability near the active ankle area. Circle No. 519

Your source for fundraising tips, support, and suppliers:



Braces & Supports

Coaches Praise Equipment that Stands the Test of Time

Active Ankle Systems, Inc. 800-800-2896

“Throughout my career, Senoh and Sports Imports have gone with me. With this system, when we put it in the floor and put it up, we know exactly what we are going to get. That’s what I love about it.” Mary Wise Head Women’s Volleyball Coach University of Florida

The new Volt ankle brace from Active Ankle is engineered to include the latest carbon fiber technology. The polypropylene shell is reinforced with carbon fiber—the same highperformance material used in racing cars and bicycles. It also features a molded bearing-design performance hinge for smoother range of motion, strengthening ribs for a thinner profile, and fabric-backed EVA foam pads for durability and comfort. Call today for more information. Circle No. 520

“It’s very unique to have a volleyballcentered company that understands the sport and the needs of its coaches, listens to those needs, and is constantly trying to establish relationships and do what’s right for the sport by making a product that lasts. You can purchase the product and know that it’s not going to break down.” Bonnie Kenny Head Women’s Volleyball Coach University of Delaware “I have been working with Sports Imports and Senoh for almost 30 years now. Over that time, we have used a lot of net systems at facilities I have been involved with, home and away. I think without question it’s the best upright system available. It is the most dependable, and the workmanship and quality are the highest. It’s also the most userfriendly system.” Jim Stone Former Head Women’s Volleyball Coach Ohio State University

Sports Imports P.O. Box 21040 Columbus, OH 43221 800-556-3198 Fax: 614-771-0750


Ankle protection isn’t black and white anymore. With the All-Sport Chameleon from Active Ankle, athletes can choose from eight bright interchangeable strap covers that come with each brace. The solid U-shaped frame ensures maximum strength, and the molded, fabric-lined EVA padding provides lightweight comfort. Get great style and the same great protection that has made Active Ankle an industry leader. For more information, visit Circle No. 521 Cramer Products, Inc. 800-345-2231 The Power Lacer ankle brace from Cramer Products features unique Yshaped vertical stabilization straps to offer unprecedented control over both the forefoot and the heel in a lace-up brace. Total-control lacing allows for an even

pull throughout the body of the brace, creating a better fit for a variety of foot shapes. Four spring steel stays (two on each side of the ankle) help support the ankle and prevent heel release by supporting the body of the brace. The circumferential strap helps stabilize the brace, preventing unwanted slippage and providing a comfortable fit. Circle No. 522 Cramer’s AS1 ankle brace combines the support of a heel-lock strapping system with excellent value when compared to other ankle braces. The brace is constructed with an 840D nylon shell, with a soft neoprene liner for comfort and feel. Non-stretch straps lock the heel in place, and steel spring stays on each side of the brace provide additional support. Circle No. 523 Mueller Sports Medicine 800-356-9522 Mueller Sports Medicine has introduced LifeCare for Her, a revolutionary new line of contoured body supports designed specifically to meet the needs of women. The soft, breathable, latexfree fabrics work with the muscles, providing uniform compression for comfortable all-day wear. The ultrathin, flexible design doesn’t bind or bunch. It is also lightweight enough to be worn discreetly under clothes. For pain relief from arthritis, tendonitis, swelling, and joint pain, Life Care for Her is available for ankles, knees, elbows, and wrists. Circle No. 524

Volleyball Court Spalding 800-435-3865 Spalding is the official sponsor of the NFHS for volleyball equipment, basketball equipment, and foam-backed carpet for cheerleading. Spalding manufactures a complete line of quality-driven basketball, volleyball, and cheerleading equipment, including basketball backstops, backboards, and goals, volleyball systems, protective padding, foam-backed carpet, and accessories. Circle No. 525 Spalding manufactures top-quality volleyball equipment for competitive and recreational use. Spalding’s complete volleyball product line includes systems, uprights, referee platforms, pads, nets, and accessories. Spalding is the official volleyball equipment supplier to the NFHS and the official net systems supplier to USA Volleyball. Call today to request a new volleyball catalog. Circle No. 526 Bison, Inc. 800-247-7668 Bison’s UltraLite aluminum volleyball system is for programs that demand elite competition net tensioning and the versatility of easy tennisto-volleyball net height adjustment. The UltraLite four-inch aluminum posts fit all manufacturers’ four-inch floor sleeves, so there’s no need for adapters. The non-winch end weight is just 31 pounds. The QwikSet net system sets up consistently in less than five minutes, and the net height adjusts from 96 inches to 42 inches. There is a lifetime warranty on the posts and winch, and free padding lettering comes with the complete system package. Circle No. 527 Customize your net with your program’s name or logo on this add-on white net tape from Bison. The tape attaches with Velcro™ onto any manufacturer’s net in minutes and does not impact net play-

ability. Choose a one- or two-color logo or lettering on a white background. Bison offers a selection of 16 ink colors, and both top and bottom customized tapes are available— make your choice depending on the rules for your level of play. Bison also offers side tape lettering. Circle No. 528

deflect like aluminum. In addition, the innovative VB8000K system includes an internal winch mechanism for perfect net height adjustments and a 26:1 ratio nettensioning winch. It fits all existing floor sleeve designs. The uprights and net winch are backed by a limited lifetime warranty. Circle No. 531

Blazer Mfg. Co. 800-322-2731

Matéflex 800-926-3539

The Blazer VB Net Winder/Antenna Cart is preferred by coaches. Horizontal storage is the only way to go. The nets stay on the cart. The cart holds four nets and two pairs of antennas. Blazer’s Quick N’ EZ Velcro™ antennas lock tight and stay in place. They’re adjustable so they will fit a 36-inch or onemeter net, and they will not damage vinyl, thus adding to the life of the net. Circle No. 529

Matéflex offers a unique interlocking modular sur face for volleyball flooring needs. ProGym™ features a solid-top design for indoor sports applications. It has a smooth, solid surface for player safety and excellent traction. It is available in 16 standard colors for good court definition. Made from a specially formulated high-impact polypropylene, ProGym provides outstanding resiliency and durability. It is manufactured by the oldest American maker of modular sports tiles, and comes with a 10-year warranty. Circle No. 532

Blazer Power Volleyball Systems, available in one-piece steel or aluminum standards, are among the strongest and easiest to use products in the industry. The system features an anti-backlash worm gear and a net tightener that eliminates kinked, frayed cables. The preset rungs make net height adjustment a snap. The money-saving Complete Value packages consist of the standards, ground sleeves, a folding judge’s stand, a net, antennas, and all the padding. Circle No. 530 Kalbree Sports 877-311-8399 Kalbree Sports has introduced the “original” VB8000K carbon fiber volleyball post system. Designed for use in stealth fighter planes, carbon fiber offers the ideal volleyball upright combination of lightness and stiffness. Unlike traditional metals, carbon fiber uprights have no memory and will not permanently

Matéflex, a leading manufacturer of modular flooring, offers the TileFlex™ solid-top tile for basketball, aerobics, and multiuse sports facilities. TileFlex is unique because its high-quality luxur y vinyl tiles fit neatly into a base module to form a single snap-together unit. A popular wood grain look is available for gymnasium applications. The base features a specially designed raised rim that protects the insert from chipping and other damage. TileFlex is made of high-impact polypropylene and has hundreds of support pegs that raise the tile above the existing floor to allow for air flow. Circle No. 533


Volleyball Court Schelde North America 888-SCHELDE The new Schelde Portable Pro volleyball system is a smart solution for arenas or facilities where traditional floor sleeves and anchoring systems are impractical or impossible. Every component (including the referee stand) is contained in the rolling base for quick and easy setup and storage. The integral ballast and friction bar allow super-tight net tensioning and prevent sliding on most playing surfaces. This system is fully padded for optimum safety, and the posts and winch carry a limited lifetime warranty. Circle No. 534 Schelde’s new Telescopic Pro volleyball system sets a world standard for quick

setup and elegant design. The spring-assisted, lightweight aluminum telescoping posts feature pinset net height settings for men’s, women’s, and junior competition. The adjustable base allows the posts to be set to a precise depth in the floor sleeves. The base also has a floorprotecting rubber foot. Setup and takedown can be performed by one person in five minutes or less. The posts and high-torque winch carry a limited lifetime warranty. Circle No. 535 Sports Imports 800-556-3198 Show your team spirit. Now you can personalize your upright pads with any combination of name and logo on one of 10 vinyl colors. Sports Imports’ sleek yet simple pad design encloses

all volleyball uprights in a triangle of twoinch thick vinylcovered safety foam. The Velcro™ straps ensure simple, consistent closure and easy setup. The unique three-sided design allows use with adjoining courts. Go online today to see samples. Circle No. 536 Sports Imports has raised the bar again with Stealth, Senoh’s lightweight carbon upright. The Senoh Stealth volleyball upright is the first competition net system to feature aerospace composite technology. It provides an unbelievably lightweight competition net system with three times the strength and deflection of aluminum. This unit weighs 26 pounds and fits all three-inch sleeves. It also adapts to all other sleeves without compromise. Circle No. 537

Calling Cards Here is what these companies are most known for:

Winning taste... Championship results.

Daktronics is a world-leading designer and manufacturer of scoreboards and displays.

Antimicrobial, antiseptic skin cleanser—part of an effective defense against MRSA.

A leading provider of sports and recreation coverage.

Customized taping stations and treatment furniture for athletic trainers, built PROTEAM tough.

Official volleyball and basketball equipment supplier to the NFHS.

A leader in innovative, quality sports training equipment.

Supplier of top-quality volleyball systems for more than 30 years.

Radically increase game-winning intensity, first-step quickness, and vertical jump.


More Products California University of Pennsylvania 866-595-6348 California University of Pennsylvania has helped build the character and careers of its students for more than 150 years. Cal U’s dedication to providing high-quality, in-demand programs to its students continues through the University’s Global Online 100-percent online programs of study. Through an asynchronous format, Global Online allows students the opportunity to complete coursework anytime, anywhere. All that’s required is a computer with Internet access. Go online for more information. Circle No. 538 Mueller Sports Medicine 800-356-9522 Whizzer cleaner and disinfectant is a highly concentrated product that’s effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria. Super powerful, Whizzer kills HIV-1, hepatitis B and C, and other viruses. It also kills strep, staph (including MRSA), and fungus on contact. It even helps prevent the spread of athlete’s foot. Whizzer can be used to disinfect any hard surface that may come into contact with bacteria. Because it’s highly concentrated, one gallon of Whizzer concentrate makes 128 gallons of disinfectant. Circle No. 539 Power Systems 800-321-6975 With a square tubular-steel frame and a large landing area, Premium Power-Plyo Boxes are a solid choice for plyometric training. An extra-thick, solid rubber mat covers the top, and the perimeter is rounded for safety. They’re suited for training athletes of all sizes and abilities. Stable and stackable, these

Web News

heavyweight boxes are sold individually in 12-, 18-, 24-, and 30-inch heights or as a set of four. Circle No. 540 Perfectly balanced and durably constructed, the Elite Power Med-Ball from Power Systems is guaranteed to maintain its shape. Bounce it against a wall or the floor, or pass it to a partner. Its textured surface improves grip and handling during traditional medicine ball exercises. Incorporate it into any sport-specific or rehabilitation movement for added resistance. Colorcoded by weight, these balls are available in 11 sizes from two to 30 pounds. Circle No. 541 800-258-8550

Whatever Your Sport, Sports Attack Delivers Sports Attack has quickly become a leader in innovative sports training equipment. Volleyball: More than 90 percent of the teams reaching the final four in college competition have used a Sports Attack machine as a key training tool throughout the season—the Attack or the Attack II. Baseball: Because of the features of the Hack Attack, Major League coaches are now using a pitching machine not only all season long in practices, but also prior to games during warmups. Softball: Sports Attack’s three-wheel machine delivers every softball breaking pitch, from the riser to right- and left-handed drops. Visit the company’s Web site to learn more about all of its innovative sports training equipment. is a fast and easyto-use Web-based stats program that allows coaches and stats managers to enter stats for their athletic events. Now everyone can access box scores, game summaries, and individual leaders that instantly display on Alert the media with the click of a mouse. Team rosters, game information, and schedules transfer automatically from Schedule Star. is included free with Schedule Star, the premier sports scheduling program. Circle No. 542


The “original” carbon fiber volleyball post system 800-258-8550 displays your school’s schedules, scores, stats, photos, and directions. Free schedule change notifications instantly alert parents, coaches, and athletes of schedule changes via phone or e-mail. Link HighSchoolSports. net to your school’s Web site to provide accurate information. Post announcements and athletic forms from within Schedule Star. is included free with Schedule Star, the premier sports scheduling program. Circle No. 543


■ ■ ■

■ ■

Lighter than aluminum As stiff as steel Easy to set up Precise net heights Fits all sleeves Lifetime Warranty

CARBON FIBER UPRIGHTS 1-877-311-8399 Circle No. 120

Untitled-15 1


1/4/08 9:44:42 AM



Our editorial continues on Here is a sampling of what is now on our Web site:

Coaching Videos Match Warmups:

Short Short Long Switch: Setting drills that

Dynamic volleyball warm-up drills by Peggy Martin, Head Coach at Central Missouri State University.

combine long and short sets with constant movement by players.

Core Med Ball:

Positive Thinking:

How to use medicine balls for total-body training.

Ideas for reducing student-athlete stress by Kathi Wieskamp, Head Coach at Lincoln Southeast (Neb.) High School.

Off Court Issues: Strength & Conditioning: Getting female athletes to embrace the weight room. Coaching Life: A look at five coaches who have stepped outside the norm and developed innovative approaches to coaching.

Downtime: Blogs by Lem Elway Catching the Runaway Train: How do we stop sport specialization? By taking a hard look at how we, as coaches, promote it.

Student-Athlete Welfare: A high school in Massachusetts has laid out in writing what it means to be a team captain.

Defining a Season: Okay, so we had a losing season. That doesn’t mean it was bad. In fact, we all learned a lot.

Nutrition: Understanding the science behind pregame meals.


Hot Topics: How to evaluate policies on student-athlete pregnancy, from scholarship implications to Title IX compliance.

Links to clinics, coaching associations, polls, and rules changes.

Circle No. 121


AirCAT , the digging, spiking, setting, tipping, serving, passing, blocking, fully-automatic drill machine! Powered by Air! (no spinning wheels) • Air is more precise, more consistent, more

Do The Math...

adjustable, more powerful • Air is safe • Air means no ball wear

• Air means no ball wear. • No ball wear means the AirCAT costs less!

AirCAT will help you win • Trains players in every facet of the game • Free coaches to coach • More reps in limited training time • Allows players to train on their own “I’ve been using the AirCAT in my gym for over 6 years. During our season the AirCAT station is always set-up for individual spiking work. It sets a consistent ball, taking the uncertainty of set location out of the equation and allowing the hitter to focus on technique. I find it especially useful during our off season training when the NCAA allows no more than four players to train at one time. Using the AirCAT to enter balls into a drill, whether serving, spiking or to set an attacker, is like having an extra player in the gym.””

- Dr. Mike Hebert, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach, University of Minnesota. –2006 NCAA Div 1 Elite 8 –2004 NCAA Div 1 Champion Finalist –2003 NCAA Div 1 Final Four –2002 NCAA Div 1 Sweet 16

“AirCAT will train your players in every facet of the game!” Karch Kiraly For a FREE video, please call toll-free 1-888-887-7453 or visit: Circle No. 122

Airborne Athletics, Inc. Superior technology. Superior training. 116 West Main St. • Belle Plaine, MN 56011

Coaching Management 16.5  

Volleyball Preseason Edition 2008

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