This is part II of volleyball coaching legend Mike Hebert's blog series on his pet peeves. Check back every Friday for his next entry!
by Mike Hebert
OK. On to my next pet peeve. It has to do with a term that I hear in virtually every practice gym I have ever visited. The term is “ten foot line.” Most coaches, when running a drill, will refer to the attack line as the ten foot line. “Make sure that you plant for a back row attack with both feet behind the 10’ line!,” they will say.
Well, I have done the necessary research and I have determined that in the year 1976 our USA rule book was changed to reflect the international use of the metric system to describe the official measurements of our playing surface (Unless you count the 1947 agreement between the NGB’s of Europe and the US to adopt the metric system). The attack line is located three meters from the midline of the court. THREE METERS, not 10 feet. We have known about this for 36 YEARS! One would think that this would be enough time to internalize such a fundamental concept.
The same mistake applied to other sports would be intolerable. You don’t hear baseball people talk about the 91’1.5” distance from home to first base. Everybody knows that it’s 90’! A first down in football requires a team to move the ball a distance of TEN yards, not 10.1 yards. Sprinters compete in the 100m dash, not the 328’1” dash.
Next pet peeve: I can recall with vivid detail the first time I heard a club coach use the phrase, “She can touch 10’5” (or something in that vicinity)!” I had been watching this player practice for two hours. She had a poor arm swing, couldn’t pass or defend, could barely serve the ball over the net, and had a poor volleyball IQ. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. But as I said good-bye to the coach I was met with his reference to her exceptional jumping ability.
I was confused. Had our game changed? Would we now be awarded points based on our players’ ability to jump? My mind raced through the possibilities. “Coach,” the referee would say to me at the beginning of the match,“Your jumper is up first.” Then after slapping high fives with everyone in sight, Jenny the Jumper would walk to the center of the court to begin her jumping routine. Touching 10’5” would result in three points for the team and would give us an early lead in the match. Come on, Jenny. Then, later on, I would implore her with, “We need you to go 10’6” on this next jump! We’re down 12-11 in the fifth set and we need the points!”
The drama would be captivating.
|Mary Eggers - Bigten.org|
But I held my tongue and thanked the coach for her hospitality. On the drive home I thought about one of my former players at Illinois, Mary Eggers. Mary stood 5’10.5” and could touch all of 9’8”. But she could play volleyball with the best and was named All-America First Team middle blocker for three consecutive years. Mary wouldn’t have fared well in the jump reach contest. But she sure knew how to win volleyball matches.
When I hear the familiar refrain, “She can touch (fill in your own height),” I have to go into silent giggle mode. Can she do anything when she gets up there? Can she do any of the important things (serve, pass, dig, set) that happen while she is on the ground? Frankly, the jump-reach measurement of a player is one of the last things about her that I would need to know to evaluate her worth as a volleyball player. Yet it remains as an item of significant currency when discussing a player’s volleyball potential.
Check back next week for part III of Mike Hebert's "Getting it Right" blog series!