Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First PC Volleyball - Kelly Coder (Smith Graduate Fellow)

Volleyball in Action!

       After our first 7 weeks of volleyball, Project Coach was pleased with the initial experience and full of new ideas for making it more active and even more fun. This was the first time the program had ever used the sport of volleyball as part of its curriculum. Going into this unit we knew it would be a challenge.  Our coaching staff would have to learn a game few had ever even played themselves and they would then have to teach this game to their groups of third to fifth graders.  On top of this, because volleyball can be a less active than our other sports, the coaches were taught a series of fitness activities that would be implemented along with the volleyball games. A lot to take on for any group of young aspiring coaches.
      While our coaches and youth leaders had suggested we add volleyball to increase our sports and expose kids to something new, we felt a bit overwhelmed at first by the daunting task. In the past we have kept it simple with our two sport seasons of soccer and basketball. We also usually don't run programming this late after thanksgiving. However, following our training workshop prior to the start of the unit we saw our coaches demonstrate an incredible amount of enthusiasm and excitement for both the volleyball and fitness pieces. We knew they'd be just fine.
      As the volleyball section unfolded our team was faced with more and more challenges each week. But rather than making excuses we thought of ways we could improve ourselves and these new methods of programming on multiple levels. Taking advice from the elementary students, our blue, purple and red shirts, as well as new ideas from our experienced founders and partners we were able keep the kids engaged and enthusiastic as they learned this brand new sport. The students progressed each week as we added new games and fitness units that our coaches implemented wonderfully.
       One of the biggest challenges we had to face with this new unit was the higher inactivity level. With soccer and basketball it is much easier to keep the kids active and constantly moving. With volleyball it's a lot more difficult, we had to modify games and add fitness whenever possible. Using devices called accelerometers we were able to calculate just how many calories were being burned and showed us how active the kids were throughout the volleyball/fitness unit. The data showed short periods of moderate and vigorous activity along with some lower levels of activity. We are going to take these results and use them to improve the quality of our program going forward. Project Coach will continue to use data from accelerometers and similar devices to help us make the proper adjustments necessary to create the high levels of fun and activity we aim to achieve while developing the lives of young adults and children.
        Overall this initial run of our volleyball and fitness unit was a success. We have set the foundation for our curriculum and we have expanded the program to new lengths. We are extremely proud of our coaches and the rest of our PC family who showed incredible enthusiasm and patience as we implemented this new curriculum. We can't wait to see where the program can go from here and just how effective we can make our ever improving curriculum which now consists of 4 sports and a developing fitness program.

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