Journey of Improvement. An email exchange from one of my players…

“Hey Mark, It’s Sivan from Aviator Black 2 years ago.
It’s been about a year since any of us have heard of you. How are you?
I know this is random, but I was wondering, during that period of time that you were trying to improve yourself, how did you do it? What did you do to work yourself?
I know that I’ve improved immensely since I first started but I really want to push myself to get better.”

My answer:
“That period of time” has never stopped… Its a journey Sivan. But here’s how I started.
In high school, when I was first learning, I knew the girls were way more experienced than the guys in volleyball, so during lunch I asked our phys. ed. teacher/ vb coach to open the gym for us and let us use a ball…. I convinced a bunch of players (guys and mostly girls since they were better) that if we could get some extra time practicing during lunch, we would be a lot better…
I would scarf down lunch in about 7 minutes then grab a ball and whoever would play to pepper for the next 28 minutes of our lunch period… In season, during practice, everyone got a water break while I chugged a sip as fast as possible and then went to jump serve until coach ended the break…. I think its just about finding opportunities to get reps where most people don’t see them.
But really, being better at sports started a few years before that. I told myself I wanted to be as good as I could so I went to our school’s gym, searched online for speed workouts, and when that wasn’t enough I joined a gym where I knew a lot of better athletes were training..
I just never wanted to give in to everyone who said I couldn’t do it… The pain from workouts was never near as dangerous to me as letting the naysayers have their way…
In college, I would pepper with my libero (who was WAY better than me) for almost 2 HOURS 5 or 6 days a week, just WAILING balls at each other… It was my obsession that helped me get better…
I am sure you will find your own way but it really comes down to doing it when others won’t, going further when they say stop, telling yourself yes when they say no.
The toughest part was the social aspect… I knew I wasn’t as athletically talented as some of the other kids… So i would push myself harder than they would. I would dive for balls that were 20 feet away, pepper harder and more intensely than my partners, etc… At practice, I got called “hero” “show-off” and other names i dont care to repeat or remember…. But then you get out of high school and you realize that “fitting in” isnt all it was cracked up to be. Mediocrity/normality become negative attributes.
Believe it or not, I still fight those battles… I still push my teammates to dive for balls that are nowhere near them at 8 am in the morning. I’m simply not good enough to let one single opportunity at improving slip by. There aren’t many situations where a ball flies 60 feet off the court, and its our 3rd touch. But when that does happen in the game, I’ll be the one who practiced it every chance I got.

Hope this helps.



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