When Flourish started juniors camps in the summer of 2019, it was hard to visualize 4 college coaches coming out to Indian Hills, CO to run clinics and attend Colorado's first ever Beach Volleyball Recruiting Showcase Tournament (results here). The clinics and showcase featured players from Colorado, Minnesota, Florida, Arizona and California - and coaches from TCU, CMU, GSU & TAMUK.
While in the big picture, College Week was a pretty "small beans" event compared to the massive recruiting showcases held in CA, TX and FL, it was still a huge win for beach volleyball in the state of Colorado, and all of the players (and coaches) who got to attend clinics and learn from the coaches that attended.
On my end, it was so cool to step back and see all the players learn and grow so much in just one week. That's why we do it! Thank you to all the players who participated and made it happen - and thank you Skaff, Gary, Hector, Beth & Fisch, for believing in CO volleyball enough to make the hike. And thank you to Mike Patton at the Lab, for the invite to audit the Angela Rock clinic at the Lab - it was a great learning experience!
The last week of June in Colorado - a perfect time, just before everyone heads to SoCal for all the national tournaments, and after all the unpredictable May weather. Bring it on College Week 2022!
Coach Skaff started the clinic with an array of scrappy, defensive moves in a partner drill format that the CMU team uses to groove into every practice, including Sprawl Digging, Pull Digging & Setting out of the net.
Coach Skaff emphasized how the better you get at "coaching" your partner during partner drills, the better YOU, and ultimately your TEAM gets over time. He encouraged players to reach about a 50% error rate - which helps your partner "get it right" but also pushes them well outside their current boundaries.
After partner drills, Coach Skaff transitioned to a competitive "Scramble Drill", which had one player on a knee try to throw the ball over the net for a kill from the opposing side, about 7-8 feet from the net. This got competitive really fast - with defensive players being rewarded for a "playable touch" and the thrower winning any shank or kill.
To wrap up the clinic with some game-play, Coach Skaff had the athletes induce an "out of system" play from the back-line, into a "Queen of the Court" format.
From talking with Coach Gary, it sounds like it can get pretty WINDY in Kingsville at times. It makes sense that his clinic kicked off with multiple-touch setting drills designed build control, intention and rhythm into the setting motion.
After setting, Coach Gary tackled on of the most important topics in volleyball: THE APPROACH. He emphasized a "slow-to-fast" approach that accelerated from beginning to end. (In contrast to an approach that is the same speed, or worse, decelerates). After working through some "in-system" hitting, Coach Gary put the players into a few different transition situations (cut shot, line-over) to work on staying behind the ball.
Coach Gary's insight into helping players "see the set" and take a "slow-to-fast" approach, showed up in the game-play, with players looking focused and explosive in their attacking.
(also, this interview with Head Coach Tanya Allen)
Coach Hector's ball control drills are like poetry in motion! The creativity and situational applicability of his training style make for a high rep environment that surely has something to do with 2021 being TCU's best season ever.
Throughout the clinic, Hector challenged players by inducing various transition situations, which brought a lot of depth to scrimmage play and built off the warm-up ball control & setting drills. The clinic wrapped up with an extremely high energy North/South sideout game over three courts. Lose a point on the top court and you're back to the bottom!
I think I speak for all our coaches when I say that we're definitely stealing Hectors drills. After all 'good artists copy; great artists steal'.
Over the past few years, Coach Beth and I have connected over coaching means, methods and culture, and FINALLY got to meet in person this trip. A true teacher, Beth's coaching style can be described as "supporting and encouraging players to work through growth errors to realize the best version of themselves".
The growth errors the athletes worked through in her clinic included: Court vision, Zip/Zap plays & the spread offense.
We also worked on the "Kelly Claes" -- looking for front/back options (on 2) to capatilize on a mispositioned defender, and get some low energy points. This drill was specially requested to be done by David Fischer, the UNCW coach who was unable to make it due to a family emergecy. We missed you Fisch! (Next year!)
State on Eight!
Huge shout out to The Lab from bringing Coach Angela Rock out to Colorado to run one of the best clinics I have been to. Angela seamlessly ran through an array of technical drills, hitting on all cylinders with movement and motor pattern infused feedback that was spoken with clarity, authority humor, and encouragement to fail forward, in the direction of progress.
Angela introduced Stanford's unique language to define serving zones (from & to) and set calls (location & tempo). Players who participated in this clinic got to see a bit of why in the 2020 season, Stanford was able to make the jump from ranking 19 in 2020 to ranking 7th in 2021, and making their first appearance at at the NCAA D1 National Championships.
Also, congrats to Sophie Kubiak (The Lab) for committing to play beach volleyball at Stanford!