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Player accountability at core of Sharks’ strategy
Responsibility sits near the foundation of Sharks volleyball head coach Airess Padda’s strategy as she and her girls head into another volleyball season.
Taking her first year into account – a year the coach said she spent resting much of the team’s potential for success on her coaching abilities– Padda comes into fall 2014 with the mindset that perhaps her responsibility as an effective coach is to inspire personal responsibility within her players, on and off the court.
“I learned last year that I can only do so much as a coach,” Padda said. “This year my focus is more on the girls than myself; I think I was more concerned about what I could do, but this year it’s about putting that responsibility on them as well.”
Illustrating her point, Padda said verbal communication is a key element of volleyball that she can’t force her players to engage in.
“If a girl doesn’t want to talk on the court, I can’t make her do that,” Padda said. “She has to be responsible, step up and do it.”
But a lot more can go into delegating responsibility to individual players than what goes on when the ball’s in play.
Padda said she expects her players to maintain their health by lifting more weights, undergoing agility training and following a special nutrition program – things that although encouraged last year, are now expectations.
“I’m doing things differently this year,” she said. “For me as a coach, I learned that I need to learn more from my players. I was put in a position to come in here and I never thought about what the girls needed.”
Padda hopes her emphasis on personal responsibility, as it pertains to players’ fitness and nutrition, will also minimize what became the team’s Achilles’ heel last season: injuries.
“We didn’t get blown out of the water last year, but we had a lot of injuries,” she said.
With rival Oaks Christian moving up to Division I and out of Division II this year, Padda said she sees the competition leveling out to a point where every team in the Sharks’ league appears evenly matched.
“We’re all kind of neck-and-neck,” she said. “On any given day, whoever shows up and is ready is going to be the team that wins.”
Teams that Padda anticipates to be tougher opponents include La Reina and Nordhoff, whom the Sharks faced last season with mixed results.
With the first match of the season slated for Aug. 28 against Oak Park, Padda said she hopes her team will make playoffs this season and that a few of the players will make the all-league team – but getting there is partially their responsibility.
“They got this gist of me as a coach, and now I want them to work hard for themselves and for their team,” Padda said.