SVA Easter School at Kilgraston

Scottish Volleyball – Easter School 2016

The SVA Easter School took place at Kilgraston School, Perthshire, from Monday 28th – Thursday 31st March 2016.  The dates for the camp were based on the SVA Calendar and also the availability of the Kilgraston School to host the camp. 20 young male and female athletes made their

way to Kilgraston, arriving early on Monday morning to just 3 degrees C on a cold but sunny day.  There were 11 boys and 9 girls in school years S2-S3-S4 from schools in Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh, Orkney and Perth & Kinross.

Priorities for the volleyball athlete
As any young athlete will know, priority # 1 on arrival at a residential volleyball camp is obtaining the wi-fi code for the campus.  The athletes were based in separate accommodation blocks, 1 for boys and another for girls, with staff enjoying the luxury of their own flats, and with lounges where the athletes could chill out together during down time and listen to the trendy tunes on Fraser G’s play list.

4 Month’s Volleyball

Once the players had made their way to their rooms and unpacked, it was time for the first of 12 sessions and 25 hours of volleyball.  For some of the athletes, they normally practice 1.5 hours a week and so the camp represented 16 weeks (4 months) of volleyball training.

The camp was led by Head Coach Ian Brownlee (me!), with Zalina Dzatieva working with Ian and the athletes for the whole camp, and special guests Jennifer Thom (Scotland  indoor & beach athlete) and Lynne Beattie (GB, Scotland indoor and Scotland beach athlete) visiting the camp.  SVA Coaching Manager Ioannis Panayioatakis was on hand to make sure the coaches had what they needed to make a successful camp, and PhD student Ross Chesham from Stirling University joined the camp to talk to the players about “nutrition for the volleyball athlete”.

The themes of the camp were
* The side out unit – the skills required but more importantly the linkages between the plays and the players within the unit, and how to solve problems in the side out situation

* Specialist sessions for setters, focusing especially on the role of the setter in the first phase of side out;

* Physical conditioning for injury prevention and performance;

* Goal setting.

One highlight of the camp was on day 2 when the athletes were working on the link between the passer and the setter and the first hour was… well… not great!! But the coaches did not give up, the athletes did not give up and by the end of the session the breakthrough had been made and the athletes knew it… From that point there was no looking back for this group of young athletes!

There were tournaments each evening and on the final day of the camp, where the players could put what they had learned to the test! By the first evening the athletes had learned the tactical value of being first back to the accommodation block to shower then first to get to the best sofa in the lounge or to the pool table!!

The theme of the camp was side-out.  So the success of the camp was clear to see in the opening exchanges of the 3rd evening tournament, where the two teams exchanged clinical pass-set-hit (kill) side outs to open the tournament at 1-1!!  Then when the exchanges got more competitive, the teams were finding solutions to side-out when the opponent serve-block-defence was putting them under pressure.

Progress had been made and head coach Ian Brownlee allowed himself a small smile.

All Good Things Come to an End
It was some measure of success of the camp that one of the athletes woke up at home the Friday after camp and wished they were still at Kilgraston and still playing volleyball.

The camp offered the young volleyball athletes a chance to make new friends, and to have fun playing volleyball, and to make 4 months of progress in 4 days.

I would like to thank in particular Zalina for her outstanding contribution to the camp, with great observations about each of the individual athletes and helping to find ways to help them overcome obstacles to their progress.  Thank you also to Jen Thom, Lynne Beattie and Ross Chesham for being special guests and adding so much to the athlete experience, to Ioannis for making the camp possible, and to the Kilgraston School for letting us use the school and sports facilities.Finally congratulations to the 20 athletes who came to Kilgraston on the progress you achieved, and thank you for making the camp so very worthwhile.  It was great to get to know you all, and I look forward to seeing how you are playing at a junior volleyball competition soon!

Ian Brownlee
Head Coach – SVA Easter School 2016