Sports Psychology in Volleyball | Coaching Mental Toughness

How to use sports psychology to improve your volleyball game?

Visualization in Sports Psychology and Volleyball

Visualization is an important topic in the sports psychology.  We can improve our volleyball game, just by imagining it.  When we are able to visualize, see a motion picture about ourselves playing volleyball, it will help us to learn skills and perform much better in the matches.

How to Visualize Jump Serving in Volleyball?

Imagine You Are Playing Volleyball

Imagine you are doing a jump serve.  Go through it a frame by frame, just like the volleyball coach taught you.

I.e. think about your toss, your approach steps and how your arms act during the approach. Imagine how your legs push you off the ground with the assistance of the arms.  Imagine you raising up higher and hitting the ball perfectly to create a successful jump serve. Think about the safe landing techniques and see yourself landing inside the court. See the ball traveling over the net to the desired spot.

This is how you should process each volleyball technique.  You should be constantly visualizing the skills and draw more and more details into this motion picture.

Watch Yourself Playing Volleyball

This visualization is slightly different than one above.  Here you are the spectator and watching yourself from the bleachers.  Watch yourself playing in the packed gym.  Describe how you look when you are walking to serve in front of the fans. See yourself getting a ball from the ball boy.  See yourself doing the rituals, maybe bounding the ball a couple times, etc.  Whistle! Visualize yourself doing a great serve, ball traveling over the net to the desired spot on the court. Ace!

Sports Psychology and Visualization – Use All the Senses

Visualize the serving moment with as many senses as you can.

How does the leather ball feel in your hands?  Hear the crowd clapping their hands and cheering.   See the all the people in the bleachers.  Feel the sweat drop on the cheek. Hear the whistle.

Use Visualization in the Volleyball Match or Practice

You should be using this visualization during the match or practice.  Before going to serve, visualize you doing the great jump serve and nailing it exactly where you wanted it to go.

Positive Self-talk with Visualization

Use positive affirmations with visualization. When visualizing say for example: “I can hit the ball exactly to the spot I aimed.”

Positive Self-talk in Sports Psychology and Volleyball

Positive self-talk is another important aspect in sports psychology.

Our thoughts and beliefs have an influence to our performance on the volleyball court.

For example: A top volleyball player who we all admire just performed a great spike.

If my thoughts are “If only I were 6 feet tall, I would do the same” or “ I can never do that”, it is limiting my potential.

Instead of limiting myself, I should be thinking about: “Because I am practicing and working hard, I will do the same.”

If our thoughts and beliefs are negative, they’ll have a negative impact to our performance on the volleyball court. This is called negative self-talk.

We have to turn our limiting thoughts to positive ones.  Think positive!

Examples about Positive Self-talk in Volleyball

Negative: What if I am subbed in to serve and I fail?  >   Positive: Going in to serve will work for me – that’s my role in the team and I am prepared for it.

Negative: Jump serving is difficult to me.  >  Positive: Jump serving is a big challenge, but those are made to overcome.

Negative: Why do I always shank the ball?  >  Positive: I can do so many things right on the volleyball court. (Instead of focusing on the negative things, find things what you are doing well.)

Negative: I’ll never make the varsity team.  >  Positive: I will put a serious effort in to reach my biggest goals. (Instead of thinking about the outcome, focus on the effort – that’s the only thing you can control.)

Negative: I wish I had Mary’s quickness.   >   Positive: I am training hard, so quickness is just around the corner for me.

Negative: I can’t hit a jump serve.  >  Positive: I can serve a great floater.

We all probably agree that volleyball coaches should be constructive and positive.  So we should stop critizising, blaming and complaining to ourselves!

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