When I get asked by female players how to improve your volleyball mental toughness one of my first suggestions is for female players to do their workouts and trainings with guy players whenever they can.
If there's a way to work out with the boys volleyball team or to pepper with one of the guys on the team that's an excellent way to speed up your skill development process.
This is not a suggestion I'm making up just for you.
Every chance I got as a high school player, a college player and a professional beach player I tried to find a way to practice or do some part of my drill training with a guys team that was in the gym or in the same city or in my neighborhood.
Here's what I did as well.
In my free time, I would go to the city park and play with the guys who would show up for the open gym for their practice sessions, for games or to do ball handling drills.
Yes, often I was the only girl, and the guys were bigger than I was, but time after time I found the best pepper partners--the best volleyball workout partners were guys who hit harder and faster which forced me to have to stay low in defense in order to dig their hard hits so my defense abilities improved at a faster rate.
Best of all, playing defense against hard hitters
Even before my high school volleyball workout, during recess if my other friends hadn't organized any pick up games then I would organize some and I would ask my guy friends to play first.
First because my motivation to improve my volleyball skills was super high.
I wanted to compete for a college scholarship, I wanted to make varsity and be on the starting team and I wanted to travel to Europe and play professionally.
I had set those goals for myself when I was a sophomore in high school and I knew in order to accomplish these goals the levels of my volleyball mental toughness had to be high.
I had to build confidence while going through some tough training in order to accomplish my goals and I was prepared to put myself in or create tough situations for myself so those "tough" situations would become normal.
I found that I was challenged more by surrounding myself with guys that were physically bigger than I was.
Practicing with them helped me develop confidence in my abilities.
When guys play volleyball they don't give you time to doubt your abilities.
Especially in high school volleyball its all about competing to get as many touches on the ball as possible.
Guys just want to compete during their workouts or practices or games or competition. They don't do a lot of self analysis like girls tend to do.
So, when I was playing with the fellas I learned to compete too. That was the best part of learning how to develop my volleyball mental toughness skills.
What I got from from working out and training with the guys wasn't necessarily a technical knowledge of the game.
But three of the most important things I did learn was
It became very important for me not to let a ball fall anywhere on the ground around me.
If a ball did drop without me going for it or making a move to try and get it up while practicing with guys, the fellas did not let me forget about the fact that I didn't try my hardest.
To avoid hearing them make fun of me for not going for a ball...I learned to go for every ball that was hit towards me general area.
That made me a better defensive player.
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