Chris (Geeter) McGee is a former college player, an announcer for the AVP, and he is a co-director and 18s coach for Sports Shack Volleyball Club. He has coached his 18s to a 5th place finish in the 2009 National Championship in the 18s Open division and to the Gold Medal in the 18s Open Division in 2010 and 2011. He is also a cohost to the podcast The Net Live. A caller to the show asked Chris “What mental strategies do you preach to your girls during the season and do you revisit them as the season goes on?”
His answer was:
“A lot of coaching is the technical part and the game part. For me, my style - a lot of it is the mental strategies, a lot of it is about the journey and the process. Too much now in club sports and when kids are young - people are always wanting the end result so early. They want to see the gold medal, they want to see the championships and they don’t remember that there is a process that goes into it, it is a growing and learning process.
I think personally, this is why I believe in it, this is why I preach it to my teams. The season and the team you are on, it is what you make of it, and if it was easy and all rosy and perfect, then everyone would do it and it wouldn’t be that fun and you wouldn’t learn that much.
I think in a season you are always going to have some adversity, you are gonna have injuries, you’re gonna have sickness, you’re gonna have some kids who aren’t playing who are unhappy, you are going to go through some bad spells where maybe you are not playing well, all that, I think makes you better. And how you handle that situation, that is what defines you at the end of the season.
I always use two years ago as an example, that team that won the gold medal in 2010 we ended up using a lineup at JOs (Junior National
Championships) that we had never used before. We just had a thought that we needed to do something. We went with it, played really well, we stuck with it for the next 6 matches. So we kind of do that during the season. We’ll throw different things out. We’ll see how they respond, its almost like Phil Jackson type style of coaching, when sometimes he won’t call time out, he’ll maybe even lose a game because he wants to them to try and figure it out. So you wanna see how the kids react. Maybe I’ll bring a kid in to serve in a pressure situation because I want to know if she can do it later in the year as well. So I think those kinds of mental aspects of coaching are vital for a team’s success.
So we definitely preach that and teach it and the big words we use are “the process and the journey of being a team” because if you think you are going to come out in December and January in the club season and be great and win championships its just not going to happen that way.
That is how we are in society, when you invest in something financially, you want to see the return right away. It’s how we as a society want to go places fast especially living here in Southern California, you want to do this, you want to do that. Don’t take away from what it takes to get there and the hard work and learning and building those relationships. Not everyone is going to win - only one team wins in the end. What defines a great season? The relationships you build and did you improve?”
I hope everyone remembers that being on a club volleyball team is an eight month journey. What we learn, what we teach, and the relationships we build and how we handle obstacles along the way are what is important.
For each individual in this club - playing volleyball is an even longer journey and a much more complex and involved process. For some girls their journey may only last a few years. For others it may last a lifetime. So enjoy the journey, embrace the process of growing, learning and playing. In the immortal words of Seals and Crofts - “We may never pass this way again.” So enjoy it while we are here now.