I hate ‘calling’. I almost never tell my teams to call. In my opinion, calling is one of the biggest impediments to playing good volleyball and I flinch (sometimes internally, sometimes visibly) when I hear that you have to call more.
There are at least four reasons I hate the focus on ‘calling’.
Firstly, for the most part it is unnecessary. In at least 90% of cases it is, or should be, clear who should take which ball and calling only creates confusion where there should be none. The reason a coach has a volleyball concept and spends time at practice, is to make sure it is clear who should take which ball.
Secondly, it allows players to divest themselves of responsibility. Once they have called it is no longer their fault. For example, the setter calling ‘help’ and watching three confused players let the ball fall on the floor. Or as has happened to me at at practice that a player who stopped in the middle of the rally used the ‘I called it out so I didn’t expect him to play it’ defence. (In this specific case, I was literally stunned into silence and it took me a whole rally before I was able to come back with the ‘wtf does that have to do with anything?’ response. I know, not my best work.)
Thirdly, it gives players (especially in junior volleyball) who want to dominate the game the excuse which allows them to dominate and therefore destroy teamwork and learning. The ‘I called mine, so the ball is mine’ excuse. Volleyball should be a seamless interaction of six players each covering specific ground at specific moments and moving from phase to phase at the right moment. A player using the ‘I called mine’ excuse, takes himself and normally multiple teammates out of their correct positions, by definition weakening the entire team (even if that first/second ball is played better). The ‘the ball would have hit the floor’ excuse is the next worse. Sometimes the ball has to hit the floor for the appropriate lessons to be learned.
The fourth reason may not be applicable to most, but in my situation it is a practical consideration. When we are playing in full gyms with screaming fans, we can’t rely on calling to decide important game situations.
Now don’t misunderstand. Communication is vital. You can’t have any kind of success without extremely good quality communication. It is just that verbal communication during a rally, i.e. ‘calling’, is unquestionably the worst kind of communication. Taking a step towards the ball is vital communication. In fact, taking a step to the ball is the most misused type of communication. Taking a step to the ball is a more effective means of taking responsibility for it than calling. It is clear and unequivocal communication. Talking between, especially before, rallies is vital communication. Reminding each other of assignments is important. But calling? In many cases a pointless waste of time and energy, an impediment to learning and evne at times an impediment to success.
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