Monday, August 13, 2007

Stretch, take the nets down, and blog

Taking a bunch of sweaty volleyball players into my clean laptop classroom at first seems to cross a boundary that is not necessarily meant to be crossed. However, as I face this week of volleyball tryouts thinking about what tools I can offer my team to give them an edge, I see blogging as a possibility.

Consider this: The strongest volleyball teams I’ve ever coached have had two things in common: (1) The players’ ability to communicate with each other, and

(2) their willingness to communicate with me. Blogging has significantly improved communication in all of my classes throughout the past two years—why not try it in the realm of coaching?

The fact that I coach a freshman team also makes blogging an interesting tool. Many of these girls have not found a group of friends or are watching their former middle school cliques deteriorate. Some of them are simply trying to cope with their new (and much harder) high school classes. Last year, I gave each girl on my team a little journal and had them write it in a few times; they could give it to me, and I would then write back. It was a great (though time-consuming) way for me to see what was going on in their heads, and since I would argue that volleyball is about 75% mind and 25% pure physical skill, and that the vast majority of volleyball practice is focused only on physical skill, these little journals became significant to me. I remember wishing on multiple occasions that I could show the girls each other’s journals and thinking that they could play together so much better if they could only get out of their heads and into each other’s. Anyone who has ever played or coached a team sport before knows that a player who puts herself before the rest of her team can be that team’s downfall.

I think that blogging could be a safe and inviting space for my team to talk not only about practice, games, team feeds, and other volleyball-related issues, but also how their first week of school went, how they’re balancing class with sports, and other topics that might help them build a more authentic camaraderie that will hopefully carry over to the court.

I’m thinking that I’ll only take them into the classroom just one time to get their blogs set up; the rest of the blogging will happen at home, perhaps a minimum of once a week. Any ideas or feedback? I don’t know if there are any other coaches out there who have tried this, or if I’m just overly blog-happy.


Blogger shamitap said...

First off, HI! I hope you had a great summer and your wedding went well!! I want pictures! Mine was pretty fun! I went to a weeklong summer camp for Student Council and made some of the best friends.
As always, you come up with the best ideas first. I agree if blogging has been such a success in the classroom, why not try it on the volleyball court? :) Every relationship begins with communication, and by blogging I can guarantee you that the members of your volleyball team will build a stronger sense of trust and communication between themselves! So my feedback is: GO FOR IT! It never hurts to try and I'm sure it'll be a success! Good Luck and see you when school starts!

5:09 PM  
Blogger Karl Fisch said...

Very interesting idea. I see that you set up the blog, but no comments yet. Did you decide against it, or just haven't rolled it out to your team yet?

As you know, I'm fairly blog-happy (shiny, happy people?) myself, but I think this is worth a shot. Certainly the points you mention about communication and working together are good ones, and it would be a way for freshmen students to help find a community that was safe and welcoming for them. My only concern would be time. They will obviously be facing an increased workload in high school, as well as a level and intensity of practices and games that is presumably new to many of them. I still think you should do it, but you should be alert for signs of burnout and overwhelmed-ness on the parts of your players.

Go get 'em, coach!

2:33 PM  
Blogger Lizzie A said...

I was wondering if you were keeping your name Kakos for blogging? Also if you would like to hear about mt
israel trip. If you do, you can look at my blog. I have even put some of my writing on my blog if you want to read some and see if you still think that I am as talented of a wrtiter as you used to think.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Wayman said...

I am excited to see how volleyball blogging works for you. I am considering it myself! I agree that opening communication lines is key to the success of a team. I would love to participate in your teams blog and be an observer in your experiment. Please don't listen to Carter when he tells you that you are to blog happy, he is just jealous! Coach Wayman

10:45 AM  
Blogger annes said...

Here's another factor to consder in your idea of blogging with kids. Imagine them looking back on their ninth grade blog when they are seniors having played for four years with the same group of girls. How cool would that be? What about having them record their blogs with our new recording equipment for those girls who aren't so great about writing what they are feeling but are better at speaking?

I think there is so much you rbing to the table. Think of all the technology tools we can intergrate into your practice so they can watch themselves hitting, blocking, and serving. That gives better feedback being able to see how they make mistakes. Let me know if you need help! Keep it up KK. You are awesome!

1:58 PM  
Blogger Jayme said...

I think that the blog idea is pretty cool. I spend a lot of time coaching volleyball. I work with high school varsity for the first half of the year, which is interesting to see how well they all know/play together. Then I go and coach C-Team middle school in the spring. Most of those girls don't know each other at all. I try to spend the first couple of weeks with them playing games that involve a lot of team bonding exercises. Thanks for the blogging idea... i may use something similar!

1:18 PM  

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