Friday, September 18, 2009

It's Volleyball Time!

Tomorrow morning, I will be officiating youth volleyball for the first time in years. Though I've been assigned a partner to work with me, I decided to stop by a local gym near my house. I knew there were games going on and I figured it would be good to observe a few matches to get a feel for what an official does.

After an hour and a half of observing, I came to the conclusion that my role tomorrow will likely be less of an official and more of a caretaker. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The majority of the coaches in the league are parents AND most are not very knowledgeable about the sport of volleyball. Of course, there are always exceptions as I know there are good volleyball people in the league. But they are few and far between.
  2. Because the coaches themselves aren't particularly knowledgeable, the kids skills don't get developed particularly well.
I should note that one skill that MOST kids do well is serve the ball. Even the most novice of coaches manage to teach at least a few of their kids is serve the ball. After all, if you can't serve, the chances of winning are nearly non-existent. On the flip side, bumping the ball and returning the serves is one thing that isn't taught well. If a team somehow managed to have kids who can serve and bump the ball, they are ahead of the majority of teams in the league.

The catch for me tomorrow is that I am officiating younger kids (3rd/4th grade). At this age, the young kids are very nervous and stand around like statues. If a team can simply serve the ball, the majority of the time, the kids on the opposing team don't know how to move and get into a position to bump and return the ball. The matches at the younger grades usually turn into a "who can serve the best" type of matches. If you know volleyball, I'm not expecting to see any "bump, set, spike" plays tomorrow morning.

As an official, there's not a lot of game decisions that need to be done. I have many mechanical things I have to focus on but based on what I saw tonight, there will be minimal game decisions that have to be made with the exception of seeing whether the ball is "IN" or "OUT".

For someone who's officiated youth basketball, it's certainly going to be a different experience. Even in youth basketball, I still have the same decisions (fouls/violations) to make as I do in high school and adult basketball. It's just a matter of using the advantage/disadvantage principle. It appears that with the younger kids in volleyball, I may not have to worry about those kind of details.

The final thing about officiating volleyball? It's certainly going to be strange to be "STANDING AROUND" in one location. For basketball officials, standing around in one location is a no-no. For volleyball, it's the norm. It should be fun!

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