3 Types of Failures That Can Create Better Volleyball Players

If you just glanced over the title, I want to repeat it for you to make sure you didn’t miss the most important word.  3 Types of Failures That Can Make You a Better Volleyball Player, can. Three little letters which clarify that nothing is automatic.

You cannot show up to the gym and spontaneously improve.

You cannot think up a dream and inevitably achieve it.

You cannot fail and automatically learn.


3 Types of Failures That Can Create Better Volleyball Players


Inescapable Failures: competing higher than your skill level


Why do you have to play the best in order to become the best?  Because you can learn from the team across the net from you, not just who the best players are and their strongest rotations but also how they win.  You will see what kind of connections exist between players and how the rely on each other to succeed.

Unavoidable failure is one of the toughest times to learn. Sometimes the failure will be quick and other times it will be slow, but either way it will hurt because it will probably end in a loss on your record.

Keys to effective unavoidable failures

-        Talk through successes of the other team and how it affected yourself and your team

-        Take notes about what you learned from this match (I’m not talking a novel, bullet points are very effective)

-        Focus on things that will make your team better, while it might be tempting to mirror the better team.  You shouldn’t, each group of players is different and the most important thing is to find what works for you and your team.


Unexpected Failures: adapt or lose

You enter the gym ready to battle and are met by another team that is just as battle-ready.  Trading blows back and forth until it seems like it will take luck for either team to get ahead, out of nowhere they run a play you haven’t seen before to take a slight lead which they don’t give up.

Failing unexpectedly is the best chance to learn to adapt.  Among the many great things about competing in sports, is the use of mental along with physical aspects to win.  This type of failure is a signal to change your game.

Utilizing unexpected failures positively

-        Determine if they beat you or if you beat you, if you made too many errors that game then clean up your game first

-        Make small changes first, unless your team is used to practicing crazy things, it will not end well if you make big changes and expect everyone to still play their best

-        Avoid snowballing, look at each play as an individual chance to succeed, but be aware that if someone made an error before you, it is part of your role to try to do better


Intelligent Failures: trial and error


As the corner stone of any volleyball skill, intelligent failures are how we learn to hit a volleyball over the net our first day on the court or dive for the impossible dig and make the play.  We don’t know if we are going to succeed, we may even think we won’t, but we try anyway because we have nothing to lose.

This type of failure is very effective for improvement.  Errors happen quickly and we are able to learn from each and every miss.  The lesson is clear: if something works, do more of it. If it does not work, try something else.

Keys to successful intelligent failures

-        Start every play with a blank slate, do not assume failure or victory before the play happens

-        Remember what your goal is and if you are having trouble, ask for help

-        If someone is having trouble blaming themselves for their mistakes, remind them to keep learning


"Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I've met people who don't want to try for fear of failing" - J.K. Rowling