Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Lessons From the Motherlode

Published on September 7, 2010 by   ·   No Comments

This weekend I played in the Motherlode volleyball tournament in Aspen, CO, the largest doubles tournament in North America. I’m not typically a doubles player, so I learned a lot both on and off the court. (Yep, that’s me in the photo – courtesy of Dan Partain) motherlode doubles volleyball

Some highlights:

  • Height isn’t everything. I was glad to see that this was the case, since my partner and I are not very strong in the height category. Don’t get me wrong – it never hurts to have a giant at the net, but smart shots, communication and aggressive serving will win you more games than being tall will. I saw teams in every division who were 3-6″ shorter than their opponents win their matches on hustle and smart play. It warms a short girl’s heart to see it.
  • Mastering the cut shot is key. You’ve got to know when to break out the really sharp cross court hit, and it doesn’t have to be the blistering Misty May-style hit. A neat little tap outside the block and in front of the defender is golden, as long as you’ve read the defense properly and don’t telegraph your intentions. If you’re too obvious, you might as well just pass it right to the defenders.
  • Blocking is not always necessary. Most of my doubles experience has come from watching the AVP, where no block = a kill to the face. But for those of us not playing on the AVP, knowing when not to block is just as important as being able to block effectively. If you can read the set, see that it’s not good enough to lead to a monster attack, and pull off to play defense quickly enough, you can really improve the number of points you can convert.
  • Serve tough, and serve smart. Earning points on your serve is vital to winning games, and to do that you need to throw off your opponent enough to give yourself a chance to dig, set and try for a kill of your own. That means serving to the weaker hitter and serving aggressively. High, friendly serves will earn you a swift sideout and no points.
  • When playing outside, hydrate well and often. I thought I had my drinking schedule down after playing all these years, but I rarely play outdoors in the heat of the day. Add 10,000 feet of elevation to full sun, and you get some serious sweat. Not compensating for that by drinking more fluids had me down with cramps by the end of the first day, which was extremely unpleasant. When in doubt, drink more than you think you should.

One of my favorite things about this tournament was seeing players of all ages and at many different skill levels having fun and playing awesome volleyball. It’s made me really want to step up my game this fall, not to mention get into a lot better shape so I’m not as sore after next year’s tournament. Rest assured that when I come up with some good workouts I’ll be sure to share them here.

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