How Athletes Earn Their Spot

I see a lot of memes about earning your spot. 

Gotta earn it. You don't deserve it. Gotta earn it. Don't gimme attitude! I had to earn my spot. Gotta earn it. Made me tough. Made me work harder. Gotta earn it. 

What exactly is it that we require players to earn? Let's dig in. The process is often the following:

  1. they earn a spot in a squad.
  2. then they earn a spot in a team
  3. then they earn a spot as a starter
  4. then they earn the right to be the main hitter
  5. then they earn the right to be the clutch hitter
That's a lotta earning. Makes sense. Can't just give those things away. How else are they going to learn?

Let's look at it from another perspective.

What is the fundamental 'unit' of volleyball? Is it the clutch hitter? The starter? The 'team'?

We always talk about teamwork and team building. Teamwork makes the dream work. There is no 'I' in team, right? We know that fundamentally volleyball is a team sport. So 'TEAM' has to be the fundamental unit.

If we are earning things, then the most important thing we can offer as a reward is being part of the team. Once they have earned this, then maybe we can ease back on the earning a little.

Ok, now what? What is best for the TEAM? When those players look back in 30 years, what is it they will remember?

I suggest that the best thing for the team is for all the players to have the opportunity to contribute. For the coach to find ways for this to happen. That way all players will improve. And, as injuries and illness and other things (family vacations, study) happen, players will be ready to slot in and contribute to their team. Then next year they will develop more and the following year they will develop more. You won't be their last coach, you will be one fondly remembered.

Have they earned this? Sure, they were selected in the team, right?

Now, if you are still reading (🍍) then you are clearly open to being challenged a little so I will leave you with this thought. Who benefits the most in the short term from just playing the starters who 'earned' their spot? Is it the coach? Is it the coach putting their 'I' ahead of the team?

(Photo Credit)


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