Every year at this time pre-season begins and with it many decisions need to be made.  Not only do you have to make these decisions, but you have very little time to implement many of them. What we have to do is prioritize our decision making. What is most important? Remember the old saying, “If everything is important then nothing is.”

Today I would like to talk about one of the most critical decisions you will need to make and that will most likely determine the success of your season. Who will be on your team? When I consider the enormity of this decision I always feel a little bit of trepidation. Here is a list of physical attributes that I look for in a prospective player.

First, I look for arms. Does she have the ability to be a terminator? I feel that you can never have enough arms on a team. This affects not only spiking, but also serving. According to the most current statistical data we know that serving and hitting efficiency is critical to winning in both men and women’s volleyball.

Second, I look for quickness. How fast can the athlete get from point A to point B? John Wooden used to talk about quickness being essential to being successful on his basketball teams. I believe it is the same for our volleyball teams. When I look at successful teams they all seem to have speed. An example of this is watching Brazil play. Both the men and the women have great quickness.

Third, I want to see how well they elevate/jump. Now I believe that the importance is on how high you touch, not necessarily how many inches you jump. For example, you may have two players who both jump 27”, but one touches 10’ while the other touches 9’8”. Therefore, size can be important, but not exclusively. I might then look back to my second item. Is one significantly quicker than the other?

Fourth, I look for volleyball IQ. How volleyball smart is this person? In fact, the longer I coach the more important I feel this is. So this might be the first thing that I want in a player. I believe that the most important skill in volleyball is the ability to see and read the game. Think of the players that you have had on your teams. How many of your best players had a high volleyball IQ?

So that is my list. What is yours? I wish you all a great season.

Ron Larsen