This week in practice I talked about Tiger Wood’s amazing comeback, highlighting the true meaning of determination, perseverance and leadership:

Everyone has a story.

Everyone has a past.

Everyone has messed up at some point in their lives.

It’s easy to judge a person while they’re at their lowest.

Every single person has a shot at writing a new chapter, a story that will inspire humanity. Regardless how dark their past is.

Who doesn’t like to witness an Epic comeback?

After a four surgeries and a public collapse of a career, Tiger Woods kept getting back up when he could have easily just walked away satisfied with what he had accomplished already.

ust imagine if all of us faced our greatest defeat, and as a response decided to relentlessly and silently prepare for 11 years when nobody is watching. Imagine if all of us were able to tune out the outside voices and put in the necessary work.

Can you imagine what we could we blossom into?

You too can overcome the times of hardships and trials. Do not despise these moments of struggle, as they are really preparation for the next chapter. And remember: the same mouth that bashed you while you’re down, will be the same mouth to praise you while you’re on top. So, take both judgment and praise with a grain of salt.

Mental game is the sharpest tool in the box.

It can break you or you can learn to use it.


surviving tyrouts.png

As we approach tryouts and nerves are getting thin, both for athletes and parents, here are couple of reminders: 

This is the time to be excited, not worried. This is a young athlete’s first true athletic challenge. Celebrate!!! 

To tryouts always bring: positive attitude towards yourself and others, confidence, listening skills, hustle; do things you are being asked, communicate well, shake off your mistakes as they are going to happen. Focus on one task at a time, not what was and not what will be. 

The outcome of the Middle School/ High School tryouts is favorable either way, and does not determine an athletes’ volleyball success and career! What determines their career is action that they take before and after tryouts/competition/wins and losses. 

We have witnessed female athletes make the team and and then quit working, thus stopping or slowing down their growth and allowing many to surpass them quickly. We have witnessed athletes who didn’t make the team become more determined and focused to make it next year. We have witnessed some who started in 8th/9th grade and even later, and still make competitive programs because they wanted it so bad. 

In every athletic career, and really in any profession in the world, there are highs and lows. Athletics are anything but FAIR. Most of the time, it’s not the best 12 that make it, or the best that get to play. There is rejection and there is acceptance. One year you are a superstar, and the next year you could be at the bottom, and it goes like that, all through the career. Experiencing both is something you should be grateful for. Both ends teach you perseverance, resilience and patience, and will help you tremendously in coping with everyday life challenges. Both will help you re-evaluate your whys and your goals. 

What better way to learn both than through athletics? 

Middle School and High School are a time when a lot of changes occur. Some kids develop early, some late, physically, mentally and skill wise. Therefore, an athlete’s positions will change often in their career, their coordination will change, their bodies, their confidence, as well as their interest in sport. 

Parents, let the athlete be during tryouts. If they want to talk about it, they will. If not, let them soak in whatever internal battle they have, and let them pick themselves back up. Help them get their mind of it - there’s already too much pressure on them. Encourage them to contact the coach or mentor for any advice they need. Avoid negativity and gossip, and focus on bettering yourself. 

Athletes, remember - whether you make it or not, the ultimate award and success will come with the action that you take immediately after the tryouts.

Conquer Your Fear Of Making an Error

“Be bold. If you are going to make an error, make a doozy, and don't be afraid to hit the ball”.

—Billie Jean King

You will make mistakes and that is the truth. Whether in life or in volleyball practice, we all make our share of errors. How many times did you fall just to get up and be stronger than before? The process of falling and getting back up repeats daily in our lives in almost everything we do.

While coaching, I am consistently coming across of “fear to make a mistake” in my athletes. If this is you remember: fear is not pushing you forward but holding you back. Being gutsy gives you by far bigger results and advantage than being timid and playing safe. Whether a beginner or a professional athlete, the errors will happen all along the way. 

One way to get over the fear is to practice visualization. Visualize...yourself hitting/serving/passing ball the way you want it..winning championship, getting a scholarship, playing in front of the big crowd…Visualize and you are more likely to do it. Take time before practice, game, point and simply imagine the outcome that you want. Your mind will be occupied with thoughts of success rather than failure. Visualization comes naturally for some players but not the others. You have to practice visualization it like any other volleyball skill. Try it today and work on it everyday. It will take the edge off. 

Athletes use your mistakes to your advantage. Be aware of them, analyze them and try to fix them. Use your time in practice to learn but not to fear. You are in practice to make things better, not to be perfect. Repeat, repeat and repeat: that is the only price you will have to pay to be great at something. Repetition will lead to change, change will lead to greater confidence and confidence will lead you to success. 

Be resilient in the face of the failure and see it as necessary for learning and achievement. Be fearless. That is the only way you will grow. It is time to let go of your fears. It is time to visualize your success and achieve it.

Responsibilities of a Collegiate Student-Athlete:

Responsibilities of a Student-Athlete

“I would like to play volleyball in college on a scholarship” - I hear this sentence almost daily. However, I am not sure if perspective athletes understand what they are in for. You must be able to balance a lot of things. It is a lifestyle that you chose. It is never easy and you have to master the time management. 

As a former collegiate Division I Athlete, I would like to clarify some expectations and responsibilities that come with it:

  1. You are getting paid (your tuition/ fees, books, travel, wardrobe, athletic training, tutors, meals, etc). Therefore, this is your FULL time job. 
  2. You are a student-athlete but the athlete really comes first. 
  3. You are expected to pass all of your classes and maintain certain GPA, otherwise you can become ineligible to play and possibly lose your scholarship. 
  4. You practice 6 days a week ( 1 day off during the week- traveling counts as a day off). 
  5. Most of the practices are 3 Hours long
  6. Weight-room doesn't count as practice so that is an additional hour a day.
  7. Meetings/ Athletic training/Pre-game Meals/ Team Bonding Activities/ Volunteering/ Fundraising are mandatory and don't count as your training hours.
  8. Most of the traveling is Thursday-Sunday and you will miss classes and exams, that you will have to make up.
  9. Unless you are really sick or injured and considered “Unable to practice” by a medical professional- you are expected to be in practice/ game.
  10. If something hurts, take Aleve or two and an ice bath. 
  11. If you are injured you are still to be in practice and do your rehab. This is not a time off. 
  12. You do your studying whenever you get a chance: on the bus, on the airplane, at the airport, in hotel.
  13. On the game day, there is usually 1 hour pre game practice, watching tape/ team meetings -count that your day is taken completely. 
  14. If you have been up all night studying, nobody cares. You are expected to be at your practice/game at your very best.
  15. You must be on time (really 15 minutes before) anything. Tardy is not an option. 
  16. You will eat on to go most of your meals. 
  17. Your personal life comes very last. You have to leave it outside of the court. 
  18. You have study hall at least 6 hours per week.
  19. If you make it to the NCAA Tournament, you will compete and travel during your final exams week. Your athletic commitment will not change just because you have exams or 20 page paper due. Find a way. 
  20. Whether you are pre-med, engineering or history major, nobody cares. You still have to make good grades and pass your classes. 
  21. You are to make an appropriate personal sacrifices for the good of the team.

Collegiate Athletics is however worth the sacrifice: No student debt, and the time management skills that will help you for the rest of your life. It teaches you to balance responsibilities. It teaches you to prioritize in a very stressful situations. It teaches you to ditch the excuses.

One day, you will still have to meet job deadlines while you have crying babies at home, health issues, family responsibilities,financial issues, etc. No worries, you already been through that for 4 years and you'll do just fine. 


Volleyball Tryouts:

Congratulations to all players who DID  who made their desired teams.                  Congratulations for those who have NOT. Why?                   

This is your first athletic career obstacle. Your first disappointment. But such is life, disappointments come occasionally, but what matters is how do we bounce back. Do we learn from it? Do we work harder? Do we simply quit?  So, how do you deal with it? 

Tryouts come come twice a year: spring and fall. It takes constant training to get better at certain skill. It takes more than few hours to prep for volleyball tryouts.

As a player, I worked year around and as I was getting better, I only put more hours in- never less. The more you know- the more you'll understand and see things that need improvement. When I was disappointed in my game, even though it hurt my feelings, I would go back to the gym and put work in when all I wanted to do is sit back and feel sorry for myself. That's is what it takes to be an elite athlete. That is how you separate yourself from majority. Work. Commitment. Sacrifice. Passion.

For all of players who DID NOT make the team- ask yourself- do I want to play this sport? If the answer is yes, stop feeling pity, grab the volleyball and get to work.  It's that simple.    For those who DID make it? Is this time to sit down and take it easy? NO- get your volleyball and get to work.                                                    

Athletes, this applies to anything in life, not just volleyball. You can't go forward and grow with wishful thinking. Set the goals and work for them. Keep in mind, somebody out there is always working when you are not.

Trading Heels for Volleyball

Let me start this by saying that I am overwhelmed by support from my husband, family, co-workers, players’ parents, coaches and of course all of my girls. The decision has been tough and scary but with an immediate relief and enormous gratitude. It feels right. 

I've did it before my 30th Birthday, the timeline that I had set for myself. I've done what most of people including myself dream of all their lives, but never have courage to do it. Once again leaving safe and comfortable and following my heart: I left comfort of my home for new country and culture 11 years ago and here I am again. Leaving comfort and stability to pursuit my dreams and influence others. 

 I left my promising office career to do what I am put on this earth to do. I left advanced Degrees to do what I have done for over 20 years now. To fulfill my purpose that I have been given. To share my knowledge and passion. To serve community. To inspire and mentor. To breathe in confidence into people. To lead by example. To show that all things are possible. To follow my own words "Go for it".

I read these words yesterday written by sister of my late friend Dominic: “All of us are standing in a “yard” somewhere deciding whether or not  we are going to move. One-day death will come for each of us. We can live and love fully and boldly or we can remain paralyzed by fear—it’s just matter of price you want to pay “. In life there are no guarantees and there is always a tradeoff- you win some and you lose some. However, we can’t go forward in fear. I choose to go forward with heart full of love, passion and trust in what I do. I believe it will be ok, it already is. 

I think people tend to underestimate coaching. We value big titles and surely they have place and purpose. However, coaching/teaching has enormous impact on our society and planet in general. Guiding young people to make the right decisions, establishing their work ethic, teaching team work, commitment, accountability, punctuality; pushing through tough times, stepping out of the comfort zone. Those skills WILL yield better bosses, doctors, nurses, attorneys, moms, politicians, educators, co-workers, coaches…..better people. Coaching is IMPORTANT. It is more than just Volleyball. We all need coach.

In life we only have few opportunities to make major life changes. Recognize yours and GO for it. Trust that everything,everything(Absolutely everything)will be ok, (in case you are wondering).

"If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you Will never plant anything and never harvest anything". - Ecclesiastes 11:4

Training under bombs

our Army Shooting at Airplanes

our Army Shooting at Airplanes

Coming from Serbia and its turbulent history, I was a part of 3 months long bombing that happened in March 1999. For some of you that know me, you may have heard this story already. The reason why I like to tell it is because it represents COMMITMENT. 

I was 13yo and Volleyball was already big part of my life. As the war has started, the schools were dismissed and for first couple of weeks everything that we did has stopped: School, Work, Sports, Social activities.. People have lived in fear and had to figure out how to make the best of the situation that our country was in. Slowly we have adjusted to new situation and start living the life "under the bombs". Life full of adrenaline, fear, grief, pride and for a 13 yo maturity that had to be acquired immediately. Everybody had to work hard, everybody hoped for the war to be over soon so we can continue where we stopped. 

My coaches have decided to continue practice. we trained out on the concrete and grass because it was too dangerous to be in any type of public facility. We trained twice a day, wearing shirts with targets on our back. Not just that we trained to get better, but we trained to resist to the ignorance of war and aggression. The practices were conducted and held even when the sirens for air attacks would go off. We would all pause for a second, adrenaline would rush in and with sounds of detonation and airplanes breaking the sound barrier, we would practice. Diligently practice. There was no excuse. Everybody was there, everybody was working hard and we all made it. We've got better, we've survived the war and we've learned that excuses are not acceptable. 

Everyone had a shirt with target on it. 

Everyone had a shirt with target on it. 

Most of the people from that team had turned professional, some went to college, some are coaches now. All the coaches that were there are still coaching to this day. 

Thousands of people have lost their lives during the 3 months long bombing

Thousands of people have lost their lives during the 3 months long bombing

Becoming a Solid Volleyball Player

It is in human nature wanting to begood at something. Have you ever said "I want to be good at  X"- I am sure you did, we all did. But my next question is, what did you do to achieve being good at something? Most of the times, it is just wishful thinking. To become slightly knowledgeable about X it takes effort. To become expert takes much more. 

10,000 hours Rule

Whether its non-fiction writing, or wakeboarding, according to these researchers, you need to have practiced for 10,000 hours, or roughly ten years, to become a genius at something. Gladwell writes that every great composer practiced for at least 10 years before they wrote their master work.

I have encountered many players and parents that have this wish of becoming a good volleyball player or their daughter becoming a great volleyball player. Well fortunately there is a way. Unfortunally its called a 10,000 hrs rule. 

10,000 ~ 417 days~ 6hrs a week through the year ~6 years of training. 

ow most athletes, especially the ones that are just starting are not even close averaging 6 hours a week for the entire year. 

If you want to be good at something, you have to COMMIT. There is no way around it. If you want to be a great volleyball player, keep in mind it takes year and years of practice. it takes commitment, it takes sacrifice. If you are willing to do that, results WILL come.