“How satisfied are you with your mental game? Would your coach rate you as having a strong mental approach to volleyball? If you could improve just a few things in your mental game, what would they be?

I’ve been the mental game coach to Olympic, National and State Championship volleyball players and coaches, and to NCAA Division I collegiate volleyball programs. I recently helped a youth team win the Northern California Girls Championships, and earn a bid to the national championships.

Here are four mental strategies you can use to ignite your mental game of volleyball into the next level.

  1. Know What You Can Control And Let The Rest Go: Smart volleyball players know what they can and cannot control. They make this distinction so they can manage their minds better. Can you control what someone may be thinking about you? No—Let it go. Can you control what you are thinking, about anything? Yes. It’s very simple, but it takes discipline and mental control. Try it—you’ll be amazed at how something so simple can be so powerful.
  2. Stop The Drama In Your Mind: In a perfect world, everyone on your team would get along and support each other. In reality, people can tend to snipe, complain and backstab others. This strife and drama can ruin your on-court focus, even though some of these social antics may be taking place off-court. Your task is to erase these negative behaviors with your unconditional support of your teammates, at least when on court. Forgive people for being imperfect and simply focus on the ball, not the team dynamics.
  3. Turn Your Superstitions Into Rituals: Do you pull up your kneepad a certain way when you really need to turn in a big play? Or do you have other lucky charms you call on to bring you good results? These are superstitions, and if they don’t get in your way, they can be good harmless fun. But if they cause you or others time issues or other problems, it’s time to convert them into compact, manageable rituals. You should have a ritual before every point, and it should be easily accomplished, no matter what.
  4. Take Responsibility For Yourself: When you think, “My coach runs such a boring practice session!”, you are giving away your mental powers to that negative thought. Yes, maybe the coach could be livelier, but you are in charge of how you respond to every situation, so take responsibility for yourself and make the most of the situation. Work hard, ask questions, be focused and you will find that those once-boring practices suddenly are a whole lot more interesting and worthwhile. And all because you decided to tune in, instead of tune out.
Now you know more about the mental game of volleyball, and about how to manage your own mental process. You are in charge of what is in your mind, and about how you react to situations. As you take more responsibility for yourself you will gain a growing sense of power and mastery. Take that power, because that is what will make you great.” – Bill Cole, MS, MA

Copyright © 2014 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.

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