What I’ve Learned Coaching Youth Volleyball


Sydney Janik, Journalist

Volleyball has always been an important part of my life and I’ve loved every minute of playing for six years, even through the ups and downs. But my perspective on it has shifted recently as I’ve started coaching younger kids. This spring marks my third season coaching and my second coaching 5th and 6th graders. Coaching has given me a new and deeper appreciation for the sport and it has made me look at things I’ve learned myself and having to modify them in order to teach it.

Not only has coaching volleyball changed my understanding of the sport but it has shifted my view as a volleyball player. As my mom coaches my high school team, she has always asked me to demonstrate drills or help with small things, but ever since I started coaching I’ve viewed my team differently. Now I can truly help her make lineups and I recognize who plays well together. Coaching has also made me see these things on the teams we go up against, I can more easily spot who their weaker players are and I can gauge hits and tips better than I could before I started coaching. Coaching has made me an immensely better volleyball player, and this is true for others who both play and coach volleyball. I interviewed Josh Burdullis, who has helped me coach this season and whose younger sister plays for me. “Coaching has forced me to break down the fundamental things we do in volleyball like bump, set, spike and serving in a more technical way which I feel like has helped me understand it a bit better,” said Burdullis. “I’ve taught a couple of girls on the team how to overhand serve better and in doing that I have not perfected, but improved my overhand serve significantly.” Coaching has made me learn how to be a better volleyball player, but that isn’t the only thing it has taught me. 

In coaching volleyball, I’ve had to step up and take a lot of responsibility that I hadn’t before. It has been a learning experience but I believe that it has better prepared me to navigate the world. From difficult parents to managing 10 eleven-year-olds, coaching can be a big undertaking but I believe it has made me a better and more responsible person. I asked my assistant coach, Bernie Del Rosario, what she had learned from coaching volleyball. “My experience with coaching has been very fun, I also learned some new leadership challenges and I got to mentor younger age groups. And so I’ve learned how to be flexible communicating with other people,” said Del Rosario. 

Over my three seasons of coaching volleyball, I believe that I’ve grown as a coach, a player, but mostly as a human being. I’ve coached a few of these girls for all off the seasons I’ve been there and looking back, I can see that I’ve truly come out of my shell with them. I find that I get more involved in their cheers and that I am high energy at practices every week, both of these are things I never would have thought I’d do when I started coaching. Josh Burdullis commented on what his favorite thing coaching this season has been. “My favorite thing about coaching has been just how enthusiastic and energetic they are. With the scrimmages at the end of every practice and watching them really get into it and work together as a team. Being at games and seeing them actually, really be into it, I can tell they really enjoy it which has been the best part for me.” For the girls that I’ve coached my whole career, I feel as if I’ve grown up with them, as they’ve gotten older I’ve become a better person and I credit them and their near constant good energy for all of the growth that I’ve experienced. 

Last week was my last practice with these girls, and I had to leave a bit early due to Senior Sunset but that’s when it truly hit me. I’ll never be able to scrimmage with these girls again, I’ll never get to entertain their antics, and I’ll never run another drill with them again. Maybe I was being more emotional than usual but I found this overwhelming sense of bittersweet sadness come over me, I wanted to stay in that moment and I didn’t want that practice to end because that meant that it was truly over. But I realized that I need to take what I’ve learned on with me and let them go, not entirely, but to point where I can look back and be happy that it happened, rather than sad that it’s over. Coaching these girls has taught me more than I know and I will always be thankful to have had this experience that has changed my life for the better.