Monday, July 30, 2012

Passing Highlights from the Web

The offense gets underway using great passes. In this video, you'll see a series of great passes to either the right front or to the middle, setting up powerful hitters.

 You have to admire the great control. Melrose has the potential for its best defensive team ever this season.

Of course, not every one will agree..

Serve Receive Drill

Putting serves where you want them can be critical. Here's an illustrative drill.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Muscles Have No Memory

You can't rely on muscles for memory. That's like asking a steak to show you how to hit a volleyball.

Nice review of coordination of steps into ready position and armswing.

Video 2...armspeed

Video 3...flexibility

...control (where do you hit the ball?)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Required Reading" Cross Post

The mental aspect of sports is critical. Talent is overrated. Work is not.

Get in the game.

27 days until the journey continues.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Free Press on the Bay State Games

Melrose Free Press article on Northeast volleyball at Bay State Games.

Going the Distance

Positive self-talk. You should do more talking to yourself than listening.

Players (as a generic subject) who want to be the best have a great ally in sports psychology.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Borrowed Philosophy

As the Olympics approach, we decide where to focus our attention. Historically,  we have 'evolved' from small community athletics with local venues, traditions, and support to 'universal' sports.

Recognizing the popularity of iconic sports (e.g. large market professional teams) doesn't diminish the wonderful and particular tapestry woven by small town sports.

In local high school basketball, the 'tech tourney' with qualifying sectional semifinals and championships played at the Boston Garden, with legendary programs like Lexington, Somerville, and Catholic Memorial carried a different  cachet than today's tournament.

Volleyball flies somewhat under the radar in Massachusetts. Championship games don't yet attract thousands of fans, and the sport doesn't have movies like Hoosiers celebrating hometown heroes like Bobby Plump of Milan, Indiana. But we're waiting, patiently.

It's far better to celebrate what we have, rather than bemoan what we do not. Compare the local volleyball team to the dysfunctional Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have a team of overpriced prima donnas that has plunged toward the collective depth of anonymity. Melrose has a dedicated group of athletes working collaboratively and selflessly. It's easy to understand whom I'd rather watch.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Berra Bonds

"Sometimes you can learn a lot by just watching." - Yogi Berra

In the above video, you can see different serve receive styles, and the common reliance on outside power hitting.  These high level college players still miss serves, have some mis-hits, and it's not perfect but still very entertaining.

The countdown continues.


Growth in sports (and life) depends on a multitude of factors, but MENTAL ones are equally or more important than physical. Mental factors encompass your attitudes, emotions, energy level, concentration, and even spiritual (teamwork).

You must control the factors that you can control. Achievement follows proper exercise, diet, sleep, and of course confidence.

Take a few minutes to read the Success Notebook from Coaching Toolbox today.

I like to remind young players that the cornerstones are industriousness (willingness AND eagerness) and enthusiasm, but also flanking competitive greatness at the top are patience and faith (time and trust). It may seem like it takes forever to scale the pyramid, but it's the journey not the destination that matters most.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dig, set, spike

Slow motion video with a powerized spike at the net.

Some guys wearing out Mr. Tashikawa.

Cal-Stanford highlights

More Defense - Blocking

Great video showing both the offensive attack (from runup into arm swing) and timing and airspace penetration over the net. Superior defense isn't possible without contributions from blockers.

Block city

Technical (brief) presentation on blocking handwork and footwork.

Melrose has had a lot of terrific blockers through the years and we expect that tradition to continue.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

So You Want to Be a Libero?

Training methods vary throughout the world.

She's paying it forward.

A high volume of reps is critical.

Sometimes some cross-training helps with both conditioning and hand-eye coordination.

Don't forget your 'core' to help prevent back problems.

Flexibility, strength, power, quickness, and balance matter, too. Greatness comes at a cost. 

Coach Koran Godwin's "Secrets" to Success

Success Secret #1 Dream Big Dreams

Success Secret #2 Develop a Clear Direction

Success Secret #3 Work as if you are working for yourself at all times

Success Secret #4 Do what you Love to do

Success Secret #5 Commit to Excellence

Success Secret #6 Stay on the Extra Mile (Hard Working Mentality)

Success Secret #7 Dedicate Yourself to Lifelong Learning

Success Secret #8 Readers are Leaders. Use books as mentors. Learn from the best.

Success Secret #9 Learn every detail of your Craft

Success Secret #10 Dedicate Yourself to serving others. Luke 6:38

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Believing is Achieving

Jason Selk is one of my favorite sports psychology authors. His book "10 Minute Toughness" can benefit any serious athlete. The athletic outcomes we see on the field are anything but random. Great performances come in concert with great goal-setting - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals.

Selk advocates for using mental imagery and self-talk (affirmations) to help individuals achieve at a high level. "Toughness" gives readers a specific routine to facilitate excellence. Positive self-talk can help athletes banish fear, anxiety, nervousness, tension, anger, selfishness, and yearning.

  1. Centering breaths - proper breathing technique create a favorable mental outlook.
  2. Identity statement - "who you are". Your statement is highly personal, echoing your internal belief system. For example, "I am an athletic, focused, and prepared player."
  3. Personal highlight reel - your mental ESPN greatest moments video, of top performances/individual plays/team moments that you play in your head over several minutes daily. Initially you may want to write them down; later they become embedded in your self-consciousness. You become the player you believe yourself to be. 
  4. Performance statement - different from the identity statement, this is the "what I do".  "I attack the ball, finding the open spot with either ferocity or gentleness as required." 
  5. Centering breaths - close out your mental workout with the cool down and lock in your positivity. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Manifest Destiny

The Art of Coaching Volleyball recommends a book, Checklist Manifesto. Successful organizations have a great process, leading to consistent excellence.

John Wooden described success as Piece of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.

Camp Candids

The final day of volleyball camp, the introduction to the sport for some future Lady Raiders.

Always click photos to see the full picture.
Warm up or wake up?

Cassidy Barbaro shows 'em how to bump.

Photos courtesy of Jeff Mate'

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Countdown Continues

Melrose will launch its defense of the D2 North title soon, with this season bringing the opportunity for the first class to win four consecutive sectional championships.

This season has an attractive preseason schedule as well, including North Andover, Andover, and the annual Medway play date.

With the graduation of Jill Slabacheski and Alyssa DiRaffaele, Coach Scott Celli will need to find another big outside hitter to complement Sarah McGowan, Rachel Johnson, and Jen Cain and a decision on how to fill the back row defensively.

Cross Post

The Melrose volleyball team has enjoyed spectacular success over the past decade. Why?

In this post from, we discuss the vitality of culture.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Second Session

Week 2 of Melrose Volleyball camp is in full swing.

Always click the picture to get the full view.

We have a saying, "you never know where your next player is coming from." In other words, there could be all-scholastic or all-state volleyball players coming out of these humble beginnings.

These players begin developing skills, playing, and enjoying volleyball many years ahead of Melrose's most recognized players. There's every reason to believe there are some 'diamonds' in this group.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Mate'.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bay State Games Wrap: West Takes Gold in Final

First, thanks to Adam DeBaggis, Bishop Fenwick coach for his summary below and for his enthusiastic coaching.

The Northeast girls scholastic volleyball team just lost in the gold medal game to the West, losing 17-15 in the final set. (23-25, 25-23, 15-17 were the set scores for the whole match).

The match was as exciting as it gets for high school volleyball, and a great matchup. Northeast trailed 22-17 in the second set and came back and won. 

To the West's credit, they stopped 2 match points in the final set at 14-13 and 15-14 with us having serve. 

Sarah McGowan and Jen Cain were two of the top hitters this weekend, and Brooke Bell led Northeast as floor captain. She also had the most assists (which I'm sure is no surprise).
Jen Crovo from Fenwick (who is actually from Melrose) played great defense for us all weekend in the back row.

This was my 3rd year coaching the Northeast team, and second silver medal; but this was probably the best all-around team out of the 3. It was amazing how well the girls jelled on the court for only having known each other for a few weeks. It was a great weekend.

Here is the whole roster.

#1 - Jen Cain (Melrose/Melrose HS)
#2 - Danielle Hunt (Burlington/Arlington Catholic)
#3 - Brooke Bell (Melrose/Melrose HS)
#4 - Jen Crovo (Melrose/Bishop Fenwick)
#5 - Melanie Aquino (Billerica/Burlington HS)
#6 - Tina Rubico (Chelmsford/Chelmsford HS)
#7 - Sarah (Coach) McGowan (Melrose/Melrose HS)
#8 - Lauren Gibson (Andover/Andover HS)
#9 - Alex Braverman (Sudbury/Lincoln-Sudbury HS)
#10 - Lauren Perez (Sudbury/Lincoln-Sudbury HS)
#11 - Lauren Silverman (Chelmsford/Chelmsford HS)
#37 - Marcela Familiar-Bolanos (Andover/Andover HS)

Update: Bay State Games

Northeast team plays in Gold Medal game at 330.

One Thing Only You Must Know

The Bay State Games volleyball competition continues in Foxboro. Melrose has three student-athletes, Brooke Bell, Jen Cain, and Sarah McGowan on the Northeast team and I believe that Hannah Brickley is competing in the "Open Division".

We will post more information as it becomes available.

From time to time, video becomes available in the public domain. Jeff Mate' has done a great job assembling this.

Lady Raider News: The second week of Coach Scott Celli's volleyball camp is upcoming at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Gym this week. The gym is in great condition and has four 'setups' allowing for plenty of skills and drills.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sarah McGowan on Let's Talk Sports

The Sports Conversation with Sarah McGowan starts about 28:30.

Show and Tell

The Melrose volleyball program has become a perennial powerhouse, willing to go anywhere and play anyone. One word explains the transformation to exceptionalism: leadership.

"Show me what you can do; don't tell me what you can do." - John Wooden

Teams follow their leadership. Leadership has so many facets that one cannot simply summarize it. Albert Schweitzer tried, "example is leadership".

Leadership flows from a creative process. It transforms. It endures. It innovates. It inspires loyalty and it attracts followers.

Leadership isn't autocratic. Shared authority creates more authority. And an unwillingness to share both ideas and authority ultimately causes diminished authority, lack of confidence, and performance decline.

Abraham Lincoln surrounded himself with a cabinet of opponents showing not only his confidence but willingness to have his ideas challenged. Despite a migration of top generals to the Confederacy, the Union prevailed.

Leaders may not always achieve lofty goals, but they set them and put the process in place to make them possible.

Leaders don't shower themselves with praise; the community recognizes leadership, distinguishes leaders from managers, and praises the difference.

It's just forty days until the competition for spots on Melrose volleyball starts. We can't wait.

Friday, July 13, 2012

41 Days

The Melrose volleyball program recently completed week one of the summer volleyball camp. 65 campers from 1st through entering 9th grade, including some from outside Melrose participated.

The 2012 schedule is also out, with ten returning players and seven returning seniors, including a pair of All-Staters in Brooke Bell and Sarah McGowan.

The first block (10 games has some very attractive matches including always tough Reading, improving Burlington and Stoneham, D2N finalist Bishop Fenwick, and powerhouse Brockton.

The next cluster includes the Westborough Rangers who defeated Melrose in five sets last season and always tough Central, with whom Melrose has developed a great and mutually respectful rivalry.

Melrose finishes with improving Stoneham led by Sam Trant and Newton North for Senior Night. Melrose has had a long scrimmage rivalry with the Lady Tigers who bring a Division 1 team with multiple possible college scholarship players. Notice the possible later starting times for some of the key games which should allow for even better attendance.

Lady Raider News:Sarah McGowan appears on this week's "Let's Talk Sports".  And a trio of Lady Raiders, McGowan, Bell, and Jen Cain participate in this weekend's Bay State Games in Foxboro.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Camp Opens

Lady Raider volleyball camp opened up today with a large and enthusiastic group of campers.

Coaches Scott Celli and Steve Wall have built one of the most consistent programs in Massachusetts, with nine consecutive appearances in the sectional finals, six sectional championships, and a pair of entries into the State Championship game. With the core of the team returning, including All-State selectees Brooke Bell and Sarah McGowan, the future looks bright.