But I *Really* Love Pepper

Let’s get something straight right away.

I love pepper. Not the spice, but volleyball pepper.

Not new school over the net, nine person, four person, rotating pepper variations.

Two person pepper, same side of the net, ball control until one of you tries to take your partners head off and you end up getting in trouble with your coach, pepper.


I’m also a learner and I’m willing to adapt if it helps my teams become better volleyball players and competitors. In fact, I recently attended a beach volleyball coaching clinic and learned so much good stuff.

For example, how to effectively communicate a drill, how to manage practice time, how to identify learning points/keys for each drill and, my favorite, understanding and communicating your coaching philosophy.

I also learned some shocking new revelations, like: pepper is the devil, and, everything must be game like or it’s garbage (slightly overstated).

I mean, I love me some pepper, but I’m doing my best to adjust – because it’s good for me and it benefits my teams. So, to that end, I am begrudgingly surrendering my player’s pepper time in lieu of other, more game like warm-ups.

BUT HEAR THIS: I am not giving up the following things, at least not in the near future:

Mariah Carey Pandora – My practice, my music. At least while the courts are being set up. I mean, when was the last time you heard a perfectly curated station of songs from SWV, Boys To Men, Bone Thugs n Harmony, Shai, En vogue, Alicia Keys, Fugees, TLC, K-Ci & JoJo? If my team doesn’t complain I even leave it on for conditioning. Eventually, after a scored, game like warm-up drill, I’ll let the winners pick the station.

Strength/Conditioning – 8 to 10 minutes. Everyday. I know. It’s not game like and we could be using that time for volleyball skills, but conditioning is free mental training. I mean, unless you are a little crazy (and I am), you don’t really love conditioning. Conditioning not only gets our bodies prepared for the work we are about to do, it trains your mind to endure physically hard things and pushes you out of your comfort zone. Upside? You might even get faster, stronger and develop the aerobic capacity needed for a two-minute rally in deep sand.

Object Lessons – Character development in sports is a biggie for me. I won’t put an object lesson in every practice, but I believe coaching also involves teaching character and it isn’t always easy to communicate these virtues in words. Lessons don’t need to be long and drawn out, but something quick at the beginning or end of practice is a great way to add insight and value to an area they may not have thought of before.

Obviously I’ve added some humor to this, but here’s some truth too: If I am unwilling to learn and adapt and do not model that character trait, how can I expect my athletes to do the same? If I refuse to progress, how can I expect them to progress? We can set the standard and hopefully influence a few to do the same. So, while I’m still playing my favorite stations for warm-up and still adding conditioning to each practice, I continue to learn and grow in my coaching role with each passing (no pun) season and hopefully my teams will too.

Priscilla Tallman is a freelance writer in Phoenix, AZ. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She has written for FloVolleyball, Volleyball Magazine, The Art of Coaching Volleyball, Sweat RX, Gorgo Fitness Magazine, CrossFit Fury, The CrossFit Games and OPEX Fitness. She is married with two children and though her volleyball career has come to an end, she continues to pepper with or without a partner because she loves it and nobody, not even USAV, can take that away from her. 

Categories: Life Lessons Through Sports, Volleyball Life

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