The Tigers began their off-season training June 4. Workouts continued last week at the school’s gymnasium, and players will have more opportunities throughout the months of June and July to sharpen their on-court skills, according to Tarah High, Patterson’s second-year varsity head coach.
“Since this sport requires so many different technical skills, most of our time is dedicated to the foundation of the sport, like passing, serving, setting and hitting,” she said. “So far we have tackled a different skill each day and we are in the stages of modifying individual techniques for a better outcome.”
High, who has been part of Patterson’s volleyball coaching staff since 2008, is looking for a solid campaign in 2013, beginning with a slate of summer clinics.
“My hope is that our beginning and intermediate girls will be able to advance enough in the basics to apply the techniques into game scenarios,” High said. “From practicing proper body form and footwork, to the follow through of a snapping wrist, we are really trying to focus on the details and allow the girls to thrive through muscle memory.”
The contrast between the regular season and summer clinics boils down to one underlying concept. In the fall, the team plays to win; during summer, the team plays to improve.
“It is essential that any serious athlete be preparing themselves for their sports over the summer,” High said. “In order to compete, we need girls who are committed to improving themselves through their own initiative and commitment to the overall program.”
While conditioning improves the strength and endurance of each athlete, individual practices, held twice a week, focus on improving volleyball skills. The players are divided into groups of several athletes.
“The girls who are attending summer workouts recognize the importance of staying active and healthy, and I hope they are beginning to see an improvement in their individual ability as I am beginning to see a change in their game,” High said.
The workouts also focus on offensive and defensive strategies, she said.
The team’s summer days are also filled with passing and setting drills and scrimmages.
“This sport can be painstakingly repetitive, but when a ball is flying at your face at speeds of up to 50 mph, you don’t have a whole lot of reaction time and there is no room for error,” High said.
What happens during summer workouts is an indication of what High can expect from her players during the fall. She sees summer clinics as a level playing field. Each athlete gets one-on-one coaching and a chance to make improvements in her game.
Participants also get to be out on the court in game situations, providing a chance to show they deserve a varsity spot.
“It is safe to say that there will be a lot of competition to earn playing time at the varsity level,” High said. “This sport in its very nature requires you to excel in all technical skills, and we are really looking for those well rounded players who can work together as a team.”
Summer is also the perfect opportunity for players to learn the extra lessons High sees as valuable assets to building character and student-athletes.
“Through commitment this summer, I hope the girls are able to analyze their own techniques and skills and be willing to put forth the effort to improve for their team,” High said.
With the graduation of just one senior, Karina Villafana, the Tigers are left with several returning varsity players, including all-Western Athletic Conference first team selection Mele Tupouata, a junior, and classmate and team captain Kiara Job.
High said she had seen an increased number of girls in the gym this off season, and she believes they have a chance to improve as individuals.
“There are several girls who have been motivated in volleyball since the start of spring and who have been committed to working out with the program during the off season,” she said.
The Tigers have about 40 athletes working out under the direction of High and her assistant coaches, including Trey Parson, who assists advanced level players, and Salina Williams, who replaces longtime junior varsity coach Judy Dodd, at the helm.
“Anyone can have athletic talent, but a true athlete is one who is willing to set goals and deliver through technical training and commitment,” High said.
For information: Tarah High, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.