Traveling to Japan to Navigate Training Here

Sushi, cars, tradition, discipline. All things we Westerners associate with Japan. But what about volleyball? Well it turns out, the basic philosophy for training your daughter comes directly from Japanese techniques. Southern Performance’s Mellissa Gilbert and several other coaches from around the country flew to Japan to learn them first hand so they can expand their current teaching structures.

Coach Mellissa got to watch coordinated training from first graders that had never stepped foot on a court to high school students about to be on the Japanese national team. What she saw was a willingness of all ages to participate fully in whatever was asked of them with high intensity, even when a little different. For instance, they have setting drills on a pong pong table, volleypong I guess you would call it. It teaches better control and the kids love it.

It’s all about coordination training, things like throwing and catching but in complex ways. There is also an emphasis on the ability to think and make decisions independently while playing. And coach Mellissa observed that the Japanese also stress independence off the court, no matter the age. Even as young as 6, most travel around the city by themselves with their volleyball, gear, everything they need for practice. Something we as parents in the U.S. would never think of doing. And while that is a cultural difference that probably won’t change, the thinking behind it is what matters.

“As coaches and parents I think sometimes we hold them back and baby them too much,” says coach Mellissa. “They are capable of doing much more on their own then we give them credit for. And that is even me with my own children. But by practicing independence and quick thinking, we can accomplish a lot with every age group we have at Southern Performance, and it can spill over into their personal lives for the better.”

The hope is that the fun of these new activities will become a big part of the basic concept of training. Much of what was learned will be incorporated into the SPVA curriculum for the 2016 season. Reminder that all tryout information and overall informational packets are now on our website.

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