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Play Big

posted Feb 23, 2015, 10:55 PM by Debbie Sokol   [ updated Feb 24, 2015, 12:32 AM ]
Big contributions can be made by short players, so don't count yourself out just yet. A player’s ability and value to a team can’t be measured solely in feet and inches. Factors such as heart, hustle, and dogged determination are just as important as size.

Volleyball magazine reviewed the 2013 rosters of the top 100 DI teams and found 51 petite players listed on those squads. Fifty were defensive specialists or liberos. Only one was a setter - Ali Gonzales at Texas State. What were her secrets for success? “My speed, agility, and outward vocal-ness,” said Gonzales.

Read these quotes from some of the best players and coaches at the NCAA Div 1 level, including Penn State, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas State and USA Volleyball:
  • “As a defensive player, I have to be the one who is fired up on the court”  
  • “I have to be the one in the back row with the tenacity to go for the ball. I will do anything to get the ball”
  • “If you can serve the ball at a high level, pass the ball at a high level, dig the ball at a high level, and communicate, you can play anywhere regardless of your size”
  • “I don’t think height is a factor. If you have heart and drive you can get noticed and play at the collegiate level” 
  • “There are going to be players who tell you you’re short. There are going to be huge hitters on the other side of the net aiming at you. But don’t be intimidated by them. Consider everything a challenge”
  • “Never give up no matter how short you are. There is definitely a way to keep playing if you work hard at your position”
  • “There are tons of opportunities for short players. There are 300 Division I teams. There are Division II and III teams. And there is the NAIA. If [short players] want to play badly enough, they should keep working hard. They should keep playing the sport they love. There will be a place for them”  
  • “I don’t think shorter players have to work harder. I think we want to work harder. We want to prove that we are just as fast and good as taller players. It’s a mindset with short players”
Nicole Davis never let her small stature keep her from rising to the top of women’s volleyball. The 5'4" libero was a starter on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that captured silver in London. The former University of Southern California national champion made her first Olympic appearance in the 2008 Games in Beijing, China. Davis now competes on the international circuit and is a member of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team.

Traits Coaches Look For In Short Players
  • Leadership
  • Communication skills
  • Competitive spirit
  • Passion to chase down every ball
  • Ability to pass, serve, and dig at a high level
  • Ability to read the ball early
  • Desire to make their teammates better
  • Willingness to play a position that matches their size - Many short players have switched from setter to libero or DS
  • Intelligence
  • High volleyball IQ
  • Athleticism
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