Team Rules (adaptable to all sports)

**Consider clicking that lil’ ol’ “Follow” button.  You’ll get notified when other blog posts get put up.  They aren’t all volleyball or teaching/coaching related, but ideally, they’ll get you thinking about things, one way or another!

So, if you’re reading this and you’re a volleyball coach–you need to be aware (if you aren’t already) of a Facebook group for coaches called “Volleyball Coaches and Trainers”.  It’s an invite-only forum, exclusive to nearly 20,000 volleyball coaches intent on improving their coaching, their program, and the game as a whole.

So one of the things that regularly gets discussed there on VCT is “What rule does your team have for _______________?”

For perspective–I’m a libertarian at heart–I don’t want government regulation and laws burying me–but you DO need rules to make sure no one goes too far with behavior.  No matter what Washington DC thinks, you can not legislate every situation.  The best you can do are guidelines…which also leave you room to judge each individual situation on its own merits.  That’s important when you are dealing with young people!

So–what do I put in the LLCC Volleyball rules?  I’m glad you asked.   There are two answers below–the short, Reader’s Digest version, for people who prefer the world in Twitter-sized increments followed by the complete rules–that’s for the lawyers and bureaucrats among you.  The complete rules aren’t actually complete–I removed certain things like phone numbers and so on.

Our rules contain:

  1. Coach contact information
  2. Our goals and priorities for the coming season (The priority order NEVER changes.  It goes family, school, volleyball in that order.)
  3. School alcohol/drug policy
  4. Dealing with absences (unexcused and excused)
  5. Playing time philosophy, ethics, sportsmanship
  6. Expectations of players not on the court
  7. Quotes from coaches and athletes from various sports regarding #5 and #6
  8. Academic policies, including class attendance and grade checks.
  9. End of Season meetings with athletes
  10. Spring/Out of Season Practice
  11. Cell Phone Use, Social Media
  12. Fundraising Obligations
  13. Policy regarding drama
  14. Pre-match 30-minute protocol
  15. “Tiebreakers”…something I found that is similar (to me) to Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

Not officially part of the rules, but we also include our schedule for the next season, our travel itinerary, and a summer conditioning program,  This past year, I also added in some of USA Volleyball’s list of cues/requirements for each position–great checklists for players to understand their jobs out on the court!

So did I miss anything?  If so, let me know.  One of the important things about rules is that they are ‘living’.  We do not have the same rules each year (indeed, these are the 2016 rules–the ’17 set is kept as secure as an NFL playbook until the year is over).  I listen to suggestions and ways to improve them and sometimes incorporate those changes in to our rulebook.  If players are on board and can help make the rules, they are far more likely to respect and follow them.

Now for the long version:




TEAM GOALS: Goals are important. But they must also be realistic. Set goals for what will make for a good season. Write your goals down—the superstition is that dreams cannot become reality until they’ve been written down. Once written, put them in an envelope and seal it. You will need three individual goals for your self and three goals that you think will be important for our team’s success. At the end of the year, open the envelope—were you successful? Was the team?

PRIORITIES: 1. Family 2. School 3. Volleyball 4. Everything else

YOU are responsible for using your best judgment regarding what to do. YOU must balance volleyball with schoolwork. If YOU are unable to balance life, being a student, YOUR responsibilities as an athlete, consider whether YOU should be part of our team—great success requires great commitment.

ALCOHOL/DRUG POLICY: AS PER THE ATHLETIC CODEPlayers consuming alcohol within 24hrs of a sanctioned volleyball event (practice, match, or tournament) will be dismissed from the team. NO EXCEPTIONS.

ABSENCE FROM PRACTICE: An unexcused absence from practice will result in a player not playing in the next match.  Being late for practice will result in a player not playing in the next game.  EXCEPTION: Sophomores visiting colleges during spring—presuming they’ve informed the coaches in advance.

ABSENCE/TARDINESS FROM OTHER VOLLEYBALL EVENTS:  Absence from other mandatory events (such as concessions duty) will be punished accordingly, REGARDLESS of whether it is an ‘excused’ absence or not: 1st offense:  Offender will make up the concessions day and take an additional duty shift.

2nd offense:  Offender will make up the concessions day, take an additional shift, and will be required to do three additional hours in the fitness center (6-7am…the time is NOT negotiable).

3rd offense: Meeting with athletic director and dismissal from the team.

HINTS REGARDING PLAYING TIME, ETC: If this needs to be discussed, do so in private with the coaching staff. The staff will not discuss this with parents or relatives—ever.

* Our object is to play as a team and win.  * Do not set your personal goals around playing time—develop goals around improving yourself.  * Challenge yourself each day to improve. * If you don’t give 100% in practice, you will not get the opportunity to give 100% in a game. * You can lead from the bench as well as on the court—be loud, cheer, high five teammates. *If you are part of “drama”, you’ll have time to think about it while doing stats.

In the end, we are all responsible for our own decisions, the good and the bad. This means we are also responsible for the consequences of those decisions. MAKE SURE TO THINK BEFORE YOU ACT!!!

ETHICS: Ethics are the rules we strive to live by or help us improve what we do. What LLCC wants is:

1 – You must be willing to work harder than anyone else every day of practice. 2 – Everyone has a role on the team and contributes in some fashion. It may not be your dream position, but you must accept that the coaching staff is interested in the TEAM’s success. 3 – We need you to work hard to do what the coaches ask.   4 – Treat your teammates, coaches, fans, and opponents with respect (officials, too). 5 – The TEAM comes first.


  1. Are you coachable? Are you willing to listen to criticism and realize it meant to improve your abilities?
  2. Do you want to win? Does losing bother you? Do you want the ball in your hands at game point every time?
  3. Are you mentally tough? Can you play through soreness or being tired? Can you pay attention to little details such as where the weak digger is while the ball is in play?
  4. Do you work as hard in practice as you do in a game?
  5. Will you make sacrifices for the better of the program? Practice, daily weightlifting, and off-season individual work require great dedication.
  6. Are you willing to work on the areas that are your weakest or do you prefer just to work on your strengths?
  7. Can you handle being an athlete and a student at the same time?
  8. Do you make excuses for not doing what you are supposed to be doing to help the team?


One of the areas a coach has a problem with is the bench and its role. Volleyball teams put six players on the court at a time, yet there are up to 15 players on the roster. Doing the math, this means there are six to nine players on the bench at any one time. In most cases, if you didn’t think you were good enough, you would’ve quit the sport long ago. That causes a problem: everyone wants to play, but the coach’s job is to select a lineup and do everything possible to win. Thus, challenges are created for players AND coaches to deal with.

The bench is vital throughout the season. The bench sees playing time when possible, usually with a large lead or deficit. The bench is also used to alter the tempo of a game so players on the bench MUST be ready to go on a second’s notice and know who they are going in for, where they are on the court, and what is going on.

In summary: 1 – The non-starters challenge starters every day in practice so we are prepared for tough matches, rivals, and ranked teams.

2 – You are ready to enter a game at any instant. Long-term success comes from the bench’s ability to perform this critical role. 3 – You must strive to improve yourself. This challenges your teammates to get better themselves. This way THE TEAM benefits. 4 – You are not expected to be satisfied not being in the match—no one ever is. But you are expected to maintain a ‘professional’ attitude. We win together, we lose together—AS A TEAM.


The Player: She lives clean and plays hard. She plays for the love of the game. She wins without boasting, loses without excuses, and never, ever quits. She never forgets she represents LLCC at all times, whether on the court or off.

The Coach: He inspires players to enjoy the game and have a desire to succeed.

He teaches it is better to lose fairly within the spirit of the rules instead of cheating to win. He strives to be the role model he wants his players to become.

The Official: She knows the rules.

She is fair and firm. She is consistent. She treats the players and coaches with respect and demands similar treatment. She knows the game is for the players and doesn’t take the spotlight from them.

Mike Hebert (Head VB Coach, Minnesota, retired): “I [have] learned it isn’t enough to tell a frustrated spiker ‘Just jump higher….’ Nor is it enough to muster a pained expression and implore your team during a time-out to ‘CONCENTRATE!!!’ as if that magic word can propel players from a 5-20 deficit to win a game. I learned that giving in to the urge to express feelings of disgust when players are performing poorly NEVER succeeds as a catalyst for improved performance.” (And now you know why I rarely yell…)

Nadia Comenieci (1st gymnast to score a 10.0): “Practicing hard made everything easy. That was my secret. It is why I win.”

Wayne Gretzky (greatest hockey player ever): “The greatest compliment ever paid me was when someone said I worked hard every day, that I never ever dogged it.”

George Bernard Shaw (the only winner ever of a Pulitzer Prize AND Oscar): “When I was a young man I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. I didn’t want to be a failure, so I did ten times more work.”

Derek Jeter (future Hall of Fame baseball player): “There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”

Laird Hamilton (champion surfer and fashion model): “Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”

George Halas (NFL founder, former NFL and MLB athlete): “Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.”—George Halas

Tom Landry (Hall of Fame football coach): “I didn’t believe in team motivation. I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on the field and be prepared to play a good game.”

Herschel Walker (Heisman winner, track/field all-American, Olympic bobsledder): “If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.”—Herschel Walker

Muhammad Ali (greatest boxer ever): “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

Dan Gable (wrestled and coached 20+ national titles, Olympic champion considered the greatest wrestler of all-time): “Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.”



Volleyball players are required to put five hours per week in the study room. This is a requirement of your scholarship.  Failure to put in your five hours means you are ineligible to play until the missed hours have been made up. If you miss your required hours two consecutive weeks, you will be suspended for one month. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!!!

After each grade check, if you have ANY unexcused absences or ANY grades that are a C- or lower, volleyball players will be required to spend an additional two hours/week in study tables.

In addition, class attendance is mandatory.  This will be checked randomly by the academic advisor as well as by various LLCC coaches. Attendance is a requirement of your scholarship.  Missing class will result in suspension and a calisthenics penalty.  Missing more than once for any reason other than illness or family emergency will be grounds for dismissal from the team.

If you are ill and unable to attend class, you should contact the athletic office immediately.

You may also email me, but I will only relay the information onwards at my convenience.  It is YOUR responsibility to inform the athletic department administration! You must contact the Athletics office immediatelyNO LATER THAN 10 A.M.

Grade sheets are handed out at different points each semester.  These are to be returned by the day listed on the sheet.  If there are no grades in a class, the instructor should put “No Grades Yet” in the grade area.  Late grade sheets will be penalized—by a combination of suspension, conditioning, or added concessions hours.

END OF SEASON: At the conclusion of the fall season, individual meetings are held with freshmen to discuss the season as well as status for next season. These are scheduled for during the week, normally in the evening.

IMPORTANT: At the end of season, an equipment inventory for each player will be taken. Players are responsible for presenting all gear they’ve been issued. Missing gear will require reimbursement by the player. You will reimburse the team 50% of the retail value of the missing items.

SPRING PRACTICE: Spring practice is no different than fall in terms of playing time or responsibilities. The only exceptions will be assignments for manning the concessions stand during home tournaments (if any) and if there are logistics issues regarding travel for away tournaments (size of van, etc).Outside employment is not an excuse for absence from practice or events. Starting after Spring Break, you MUST leave the hours of 2-7pm open.



CELL PHONES:   Cell phones should not be brought into the gym or else they must be turned off during practice or a match.  These should be left in your room, locker, or vehicle.   If a phone goes off in practice or is in use at a prohibited time, everyone else on the TEAM will run THREE suicides—TURN THE PHONE OFF!!!

Cell phones should not be used in the last thirty minutes of a bus trip on the way TO a match. Cell phones are not restricted after we are done playing for a day.

SOCIAL NETWORKS: This is your responsibility.  Any information regarding improper behavior on your page can and will be used against you.  In addition, youwill add the coaches to your pages (whether Facebook, Instagram, or whatever).

FUNDRAISING: All players are required to participate in events designed to help finance the volleyball program. This includes …. Helping in these ways means players do not have any other fundraising obligations such as selling signs, advertisements, or serve-a-thons.

Players MAY choose to fundraise via ads, selling signs, or simply paying cash…. In such a case, a player is required to raise THREE BILLION DOLLARS in lieu of other work.  This is required of scholarship AND walk-on players. Failure to do so can result in the loss of scholarship or having a ‘hold’ placed on your grades until the situation is fixed.

ATTITUDE/DRAMA: If you cannot keep disruptive issues in check, you will find your playing time reduced. If that does not correct the issue or you are being negative for other reasons, you will face dismissal from the team. THIS IS YOUR WARNING!!!! If a problem persists, you will be removed from the team.



Before 30:00 USA HP Warmup #1 plus Bands

30:00 – 29:00 Dig Pepper with Partner—Tips

29:00 – 28:00 Dig Pepper—Normal

28:00 – 27:00 Dig Pepper–Baby Jumps

27:00 – 24:00 Shuttle Ball Control (Groups of 3 or 4 without two setters)

24:00 – 21:00   Serve Receive with  Toss (players as target/net)

**30:00 – 21:00 SETTERS AT THE NET working on set repetitions. One setter completes sequence, then second.

21:00 – 19:00 Rest / Drinks

19:00 – 15:00 Visiting Team 1st Warmup on Court 15:00 – 11:00 Home Team 1st Warmup on Court 11:00 – 6:00 Visiting Team 2nd Warmup on Court 6:00 – 1:00 Home Team 2nd Warmup on Court 1:00 – 0:00 Shag Balls / Huddle

First warmup: Serving and serve-receive.

Second warmup: Hitting and blocking




This should be self-explanatory. Hustle on the court, in games, in practice. If you hustle to shag balls and other ‘grunt work’, then hustling during games will become automatic. You will play quicker and with speed comes more balls kept in play, more points, and more wins.


Don’t talk behind a teammate’s back. If you have something to say—good or bad—make sure to say it to their face. Even better, if you see something good done by a teammate, go out of your way to say something.


Remember that there is more going on than one day in practice, one match. No one on the team is going to play every point. Not everyone will start. The big picture is about growing up. It’s about commitment and work ethic and learning what will lead to success for you over the next four, five, or six decades. It’s about your education. If you get caught up in petty squabbles, you will be miserable and you will make others miserable and you will miss out on everything that is part of the big picture.


No—not that way. Being easy refers to being easy to understand, being willing to communicate and listen—so that there are no chances for misunderstandings between you and someone else. Don’t turn someone away when they need to talk with you—listen and reflect on what they have to say. If this exists both ways, communication WILL be effective.


Success doesn’t require thinking ‘outside the box’. It requires success ‘in the box’. That means that the only thing on your mind during practice or matches is volleyball. You shouldn’t be thinking of why you are mad at Betty or if Jane’s comment was an insult or not. You shouldn’t be worried about Tina talking to your boyfriend. You HAVE to focus on volleyball. Teams that focus on what they are supposed to be doing win. Teams that bring in irrelevant stuff from ‘outside the box’ lose.


I ask players regularly for their opinions. It doesn’t mean that is what we’ll do, but feedback is ABSOLUTELY important. The reverse is also true—if you have questions, ask. The cliché is true for the most part….there are no stupid questions.


If you see a teammate with a flat tire on the interstate and no one around, you’d stop and help, or at least wait with them until the Highway Patrol arrived. You wouldn’t think twice about this. You don’t ignore them. This must be the same in the gym.  If there is a problem fix it. The three big parts of this are:

1 – Empathize. Can you understand the other person’s situation or are you caught up in ‘me, me, me’?

2 – If you made a mistake or said something inappropriate, admit it. Apologize. Then strive to not repeat the mistake. 3 – You must risk being taken advantage of by others for the sake of the team and its goals. Help someone get better even if they could be promoted to start over you, accept responsibility even if you risk being unpopular temporarily.


Do you appreciate your teammates? Have you told them that directly? Or are they left wondering what you are thinking as you whisper to someone else? Never, ever, discount the value of positive comments to teammates.


Do it right every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Be dependable, be consistent. Don’t be afraid to do new things when asked—simply give 100% at everything you do. People not playing (coaches, fans, etc) notice when players do not give 100% all of the time. As you grow older, it will become more and more obvious who is and isn’t giving 100%. Make people go ‘WOW!’ when they watch you hustle.


This is the tough one. It’s recommended you tattoo this somewhere on your body: KNOW YOURSELF. On top of that, make sure others see the real you. If your teammates know you are struggling with confidence on your hitting, they will be more likely to offer encouragement. If you are having relationship issues, they will be less likely to make joking comments that unintentionally hurt—and lead to drama and poisoned personal relationships.

**If you’re interested in more stuff on volleyball, check out The Human Side of Coaching (though I’ll also note the publisher hasn’t paid me my royalties…Still, it’s a worthwhile book for coaches, especially newer ones).  It’s a collection of essays on dealing with parents, athletic directors, players–you won’t find any drills in here!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s