Sokol Volleyball News features a broad range of volleyball topics for Houston area players, their families and'll find training techniques, nutrition, sports psychology, college recruiting, lessons, camps, tryouts and other events pertaining to sand, club and school volleyball. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful. And, if you have a question, comment or event, send it to It might deserve a whole blog post!

It's TEAM Time!

posted Jun 24, 2016, 9:41 PM by Debbie Sokol   [ updated Jun 25, 2016, 10:49 PM ]

Sokol Volleyball will be taking a short break from June 28 - July 12 and when we return, we will be ready to help you get in shape for your season and your tryouts. 

Beginning July 13, our group lessons will teach you the fundamentals of Serving, Passing, Setting, Hitting and Defense. Every player will be coached individually in a small group atmosphere. 

Experienced players will enjoy the pace and repetition under a watchful eye, with plenty of feedback to maximize their session. Follow these links to find out more about our training and the registration process. Space is limited so act soon! See you on the court, where the good get better!

Bounce Back

posted Jun 24, 2016, 9:41 PM by Debbie Sokol   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 10:01 PM ]

Players often ask, "How do I bounce back from an error?" And I tell them, like anything else, it takes practice. Training your mind and controlling your thoughts and emotions can be just as demanding as learning a skill like hitting or serving. Great players know and understand the powerful nature of negative thinking. They know that it can impact their own game and the game of those around them. Understanding its power and respecting that, will inspire you to look for new ways to bounce back from that next error.

Serving - Keep it Simple

posted Jun 24, 2016, 9:40 PM by Debbie Sokol   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 9:57 PM ]

Serving is one of the first skills young players want to learn. Often it helps them make their first team, because every coach loves a consistent and powerful server, especially at the young levels, where serving can often dominate a game. There are many different serves, and many reasons to know how to serve, both from the floor (standing) and from the air (jumper). Once you master your serve, concentrate on velocity, zone serving, and of course consistency. Serving is one of the simplest skills in our sport, and with a little effort and lots of mental concentration, you will find success.

From The Mouths of Babes

posted Jun 24, 2016, 9:39 PM by Debbie Sokol   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 10:23 PM ]

I think kids are so honest, about so many things, but especially about how they feel. At a young age, kids experience the world with a bright, new intensity through sport. In turn, their parents experience a bright, new world too, but it is important to keep in mind that this world does belong to the child. Find out what kids think about how their parents watch their sporting events. It may surprise you!

2016 Lessons Now Online!

posted Dec 28, 2015, 8:00 AM by Debbie Sokol

As we close out 2015 and prepare for the new year, we often reflect on our past year's performances. After assessing the highs and lows, players and coaches often look to the new year with a renewed commitment to improve weak areas and learn new tricks. 

Sokol Volleyball is committed to helping our Houston area athletes get the training they need to rise to the top of their game. Our 2016 lesson calendar is now live and online at Sokol Volleyball_Training. Join us this Winter and Spring in the gym, and sharpen your skills or simply begin the process of discovering what a great game this is! 

Call for an appointment today at 713-927-5014 or email us at

Have a Happy New Year and we will see you in 2016!

Hitting Picture Perfect

posted Dec 28, 2015, 8:00 AM by Debbie Sokol

I love pictures. I always have because I remember best when I have a mental picture in my mind. That picture serves as a road map of sorts, and whenever I want to call on it, I summon it up, just like that. When I think about the arm swing and the contact, I think about pictures like these posted below. Now, I know that these are some of the best players in the world, but if we're going to form a mental picture of something done well, then who better to imagine than an Olympian!

Here are some things I love best in these shots:
  • Love, love, love the full extension in the arm at contact. See how the elbow straightens at the peak of the swing - this is what reaching looks like
  • Open the Door - nothing illustrates this better than the perfect "bow and arrow" arm swing with the elbow cocked all the way back, ready to fire
  • Slam the Door - bring that arm all the way through the ball with as much speed as you can and finish with a nice snap of the wrist on contact
So take some pictures of yourself, and make some comparisons. Model your technique after the world's best and you'll be picture perfect in no time!

It's OK to Fail

posted Dec 28, 2015, 7:59 AM by Debbie Sokol

Success comes in small bits and pieces and the turtles often beat the rabbits on this one. It takes a lot of "stick to it-ness" to be good at anything, and the little drawing to the right illustrates my point. We don't learn in a linear fashion, so the straight line you were thinking would happen, isn't going to happen. It can't happen, because that's not how we learn. Be patient with yourself and allow the mistakes to be your trial and error time. 

Many young players and even their parents are amazed at how hard it can be to simply serve the ball over the net. Remember, it's not always about being strong, but more about learning the proper mechanics to make your arm and hand hit the ball in a way that ensures its flight over the net.

I like the acronym for FAIL that stands for First Attempt At Learning, because that's exactly what it is. Every failed attempt becomes a part of your learning library. And every successful action becomes a part of your muscle memory. You'll love your serve eventually, and you'll learn to spike the ball over the net with power and accuracy eventually too. When you're in the throws of frustration this year, just remember this cute little drawing and think, F.A.I.L. means First Attempt At Learning. Good luck out there!

The Truth About Youth Sports

posted Dec 28, 2015, 7:59 AM by Debbie Sokol

It’s time for a little honesty, sports parents. These 6 truths about youth sports may be hard to choke down, but with a little help, they can be faced victoriously.

Hard truths about youth sportsTruth 1: Playing sports is not all fun and games.

After the initial excitement of starting the season wears off, practice, hard work and tiredness set in. Practice will not always be fun. Your child will be tired. And, of course, there’s the drama that happens when kids and parents collide in competition. Sometimes it gets downright ugly.

What you can do about it: Look for little victories, stay focused on the game and ignore the distractions of conflict and drama.

Truth 2: Your athlete may not be treated fairly.

Your kid probably won’t get a lot of things you and he think he deserves: The position he wants, the playing time or the recognition. It can seem very unfair.

What you can do about it: Vent to someone who loves you; don’t vent to your child. Give your kid a hug, look for the positive and seek to help your child grow through the experience.

Truth 3: The sports parent’s job is exhausting and demanding.

You will spend hours traveling, volunteering, washing uniforms and sitting in bleachers – not to mention the emotional exhaustion of Truths No. 1 and 2.

What you can do about it: Be selfish now and then, and get some alone time or time with just you and your spouse. Your child will not be scarred for life if you miss a game here and there. You do NOT have to be super mom or dad.

Truth 4: Sports may not work for your child.

It’s okay if your kid tries sports and doesn’t like them.

What to do about it: Let your child experiment until he or she finds a niche. There’s always band, ballet, gymnastics, art, drama, student government, choir, photography, Girl or Boy Scouts – the list goes on. Support them, even if it means they will not be the sports star you dreamed you’d have.

Truth 5: Sports will teach hard life lessons for your child.

I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times, but until you experience the struggles and challenges as a parent with your child, the truth of it does not sink in.

What to do about it: Expect the challenges and see them as wonderful growth opportunities for you and your child, not struggles that threaten to defeat you.

Truth 6: Sports parenting will teach tough life lessons for YOU.

Self-control, patience, perspective – these will all be severely tested as you deal with parents, players, coaches, officials and opponents.

What to do about it: Be humble enough to recognize these trials as opportunities for you to become a better person and parent. If you let it, sports participation will bring just as much character development to you as it will to your kids.

Even with these hard-to-swallow youth sports realities, there are very few things in life more rewarding than watching your child work hard and succeed. For every minute of frustration and anger and disappointment, there are cheers of excitement or tears of pride as you watch your kids fight hard, fail, persist, succeed and grow.

by Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter

Dealing with Competition Anxiety

posted Aug 22, 2015, 12:19 PM by Debbie Sokol

Being a teenager can be tricky. There is school life with things like grades, friends, teachers, and clubs on your plate, on the daily. There’s home life with things like parents, siblings, commitments, expectations, and responsibilities, on the daily. Then there’s sports life, with things like your coach, teammates, workouts, nutrition, practice, and games, on the daily…while trying to mesh school and family in there, in harmony, too.

This is a lot.

And it’s a lot of stuff you may or may not realize you’re frequently dealing with. These things are most often sources of great fun, happiness, and fulfillment in life. But there are times these things can be great sources of anxiety, too. While there are various ways to combat anxiety, a specific type of anxiety that often gets overlooked is something called competition anxiety, and athletes at all levels of sport experience this feeling regularly.

Luckily for high school student-athletes, there are simple things you can start working into your pre-game routine now that can greatly help and show immediate results, while laying a solid groundwork for you in the future.

Deal with competition anxiety through music

Have you seen the commercials for “Beats by Dre” starring Russell Wilson and other famous faces?

While they may simply be major endorsement deals or platforms for exposure, the truth is listening to music before a game or competition can greatly relieve nerves.

Hearing, and therefore feeling, a beat, and repeating words or phrases you know and like, can do a couple of things. It can take you away from the pressure of the moment, and allow your mind to focus on something that feels good. At the same time, depending on the lyrics or the pace of the song, music can get you super hyped and ready for battle. Music is a win-win.

Concentrate on your breathing

It sounds funny, but deep breathing can take practice. It is also one of the absolute most effective ways to handle all types of anxiety – and competition anxiety is no different. While many breathing exercises work best in a quiet space – something that can be hard to find in the time before a game – regularly working on deep breathing can be life changing in how you face nervousness and fears.

In through the nose, out through the mouth, with both hands on your stomach, feeling yourself regulating your breathing. The relaxing physical effect this has on your body will, sometimes immediately, sometimes over time, transfer into positive thoughts in your mind.

Be positive — and talk to yourself

I love mantras! I’ve written about them before. I am such a firm believer in finding words and phrases that mean something and motivate you and using them in competition. Some of my favorites are things like

  • I am stronger than I know.
  • If it was easy, everyone would do it.
  • Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.

You can come up with any phrases that motivate you. The important part is to know what helps you deal with competition anxiety, and stick with it. You’ll immediately notice better and more consistent results in your training.

See Original

Jump Serving

posted Aug 22, 2015, 12:18 PM by Debbie Sokol

Jump Float and Jump Topspin Serves are demonstrated here by players with direction from coach Todd Dagenais

Jump Float and Jump Topspin Serves

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