Improving Mental Toughness [ARTICLE]

Improving Mental Toughness
By: Morgan Thomas - Assistant Coach - Texas Tech Coaching

Originally Published in: Coaching Volleyball

Copyright and Provided by: American Volleyball Coaches Association

There is no question about the importance of developing our athletes' mental game. In a sport where points are won or lost on errors, recovering from mistakes and learning to move on to the next play, it is a pivotal component to teams' success. One way we develop the mental toughness game in our team is by a Ladder Drill. This drill can take as quick as 20 minutes or as long as it takes to finish. The focus is on recovery by way of "mind over matter."

In the Ladder Drill, the entire team has to consecutively execute each step in order to move on to the next step. If they fail a step, they must start back with the first step.

Step 1: Pass a free ball to target: From coach's initiation, players fill in from zone 6 and pass a free ball to target (we use a Catch-It in our gym).

Step 2: Single line hitting: Coach tosses a 2 ball; players may not hit to zone 6 or tape the net.

Step 3: 21 touch Columbus: Coach initiates free ball to 5-on-5 Columbus (the team who places the ball over the net rotates). This is supposed to be cooperative, but still aggressive. If a free ball is sent over, or if they extend a broken play, those touches are “wash-es” and not included in the 21-touch goal. We want to only count the pass, set, attack.

Step 4: Everyone zone serve: Set up cones or boxes in a zone and everyone must hit zones.

You can adjust the ladder based on skill level, or add components if you want to make it more challenging. These steps may seem easy on their own, but executing them consecutively is a challenge. These types of drills really expose weaknesses among your group, but more importantly, you will see who your leaders, clutch players and gamers are. As much as we train technical skill and system concepts, developing the mental game in our athletes is just as important.

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