It’s a mistake…
Men at Work
It may seem counterintuitive to our regular jobs, but in motor learning, mistakes are critical. In volleyball if you’re a good defender inside a small circle, we want you to expand that circle and learn how to play outside your comfort zone. If you choose to improve by playing at the “edge of your ability” where learning happens, mistakes are inevitable. They are a critical part of the learning process.
From that viewpoint, reaching to make the next mistake should be rewarded, so that it can be conquered, so that you can find the next mistake to conquer.
John Kessel talks further about making mistakes, and how mistakes can lead to trust on your team, in this blog post;
To expand on John’s comment, “being demanding.” We can do this as coaches, by checking back with our athletes, rather than yelling or punishing them. “Are you watching the hitter for clues? What did you see her do? What other choices did you have? Was there a better solution?” These are all demanding questions, that won’t embarrass an athlete. They’ll let him show off what he knows.
Maybe the most critical thing regarding mistakes is teaching the team to honor them. Of course we want to avoid repeated mental errors; that’s a different item entirely. The everyday shanked passes, missed digs, errant attacks, and funky blocks have to be met with a pat on the back, particularly when your athlete is stretching to learn something new, or playing in an environment that is unfamiliar.
We’re not building skyscrapers…just volleyball players. A few mistakes along the way show that practice is hard, the opponent is good, and we are being challenged. If we toss underhand to our players, so that they can pass perfectly, is that going to help them when the ball is flying 100 miles an hour?
Applaud the mistakes, and then conquer them, so you can find the next ones.