This month in class we’ve been playing volleyball.
Adrie and I were unsure of what to expect from the volleyball unit since neither of us has extensive experience playing volleyball. At first, it seemed like volleyball would be a very difficult sport to teach the girls because the basic techniques of volleyball—bumping, setting, spiking, and serving—are fairly challenging.
Our first two sports units were soccer and basketball which are more forgiving sports; even if you’re brand new to them or super uncoordinated, most people can manage a decent attempt at dribbling and shooting. With volleyball, if you make a mistake and the ball touches the floor, it’s game over.
The other challenging aspect of volleyball is that it’s inherently a sport that relies heavily on teamwork. A very talented soccer or basketball player may be able to dribble circles around her competitors and make incredible shots without any help from her teammates, but in volleyball, you are limited to one touch. To do well, a team needs to work together.
These challenges at first made the prospect of teaching volleyball classes a little daunting. In all of our schools, the girls play sports at different levels. Trying to get them to develop the basic skills and team coordination needed to play a game of volleyball together seemed like a big task.
However, volleyball classes have been a big success! Adrie and I are very impressed by how quickly the girls picked up new skills and improved. They really enjoy seeing how many times they could bump the ball to themselves in a row or pass with a partner. Volleyball has also provided a fantastic opportunity to discuss one of our foundational lessons: communication. Bad communication can lead to physical injury when two girls try to get to the same ball and collide. Good communication can get the ball back across the net.
After just a few classes, we started playing fully fledged volleyball games. To be completely clear: the games are still nowhere near perfect. There are many dropped balls, balls hit out of bounds, balls hit directly into the net, and serves fallen short. But the girls improve with every play, and most importantly, everyone has a ton of fun. No one gets frustrated with the difficulties of the sport or impatient with their teammates. Everyone celebrates when there is a great save or a well-executed pass. The girls are willing to try, fail, and try again. Adrie and I walk away from every volleyball lesson with big smiles on our faces.
What we thought would be a challenging unit has actually been an incredibly fun and positive experience. We’re far from being volleyball pros, but we’ve definitely discovered a new love for the game. Looking forward to seeing what future sports have in store for us!