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Here you will find some of the information our dear, departed friend, Jeff, found to be of interest over the years and wanted to share with anyone who might want to take a look. We’re sure you’ll find something interesting and we hope you enjoy your time here!  Everything has been copied (word for word) from the website he created when he was with us.

GVA Founder Leaves His Touch on us All

Jeff Hamilton loved volleyball.  He became involved when his daughter, Melissa, took on the game in her middle school years.  He was definitely a volleyball dad, supporting his daughter and the sport over the next several years.  When Melissa went off to college, Jeff shared his love for volleyball with GVA, by joining the executive board, guiding the start up of the league and so much more.  Jeff passed away on Friday night, May 18, 2007, as he was preparing to come to the 5th grade playoffs at Granger.

Jeff’s behind-the-scenes leadership was invaluable to GVA.  He was our webmaster, our referee coordinator, photographer, and so much more.  Jeff never missed a Friday night at GVA, and attended every camp and clinic since GVA’s beginning in 2001.  He was dedicated to volleyball and loved working with the development of players through GVA, and teaching the adults involved the rules, sportsmanship and respect for the game.   For his thousands of hours of work, Jeff never took a paycheck from GVA.
He was a GOLDEN volunteer.

Jeff ‘s wife, Sharon, and two daughters, Stephanie and Melissa (both living in Austin), miss his love for life, as does everyone in GVA that knew and loved him.  Jeff’s touch on our leagues continues on through his insightful articles, comments, and information posted below.

We are honoring Jeff’s memory with the first of many tournaments – this one for coaches– and will use the proceeds to help others play the game of volleyball – that’s what Jeff would have wanted.

DO or DO NOT – There is NO try!
Yoda had it right in his statement of how you should approach things.

Whether it is a kill, or a back set or what ever; you have to approach tasks like they are already done.  You cannot say to yourself, I’ll try.” If you approach it in this manner, you are essentially saying to your self, “Well, I don’t think I can do it, but I’ll put effort into it.”” Try says it is not going to happen unless strange things occur.  You have to approach it like I am going to do it and mean it.  If you approach tasks in this manner, you will be surprised at how many times things work out.  You have to do it or not do it.  Luke says, “It’s impossible”.  To which Yoda responds “That’s why you fail”.” Far from a hokey religion, this philosophy is what drives most great inventors.  When everyone else says it cannot be done, they say to themselves “Just you wait.  This is going to work.”

You’ve been playing middle school volleyball and you think you are pretty good.  Just wait for that call from the high school coach that you start practice on Monday on the varsity team?  Not!

Don’t leave anything to chance.  See the following site for a no nonsense assessment to making the high school volleyball team. Better than I could write, and by someone who knows what he is talking about!
and another article along those same lines:

Due to the strangeness of middle school assignments, high school assignments, club volleyball, and the love of the game a player might at some time play opposite some players that used to be on their team or someone they have been good friends with.

There is nothing greater than seeing girls at a tournament seeing someone they know well and going crazy with what has been going on. There are hugs and very sincere wishes of good luck with games to be played. Volleyball has that type of effect.  Players wish their friends good luck and to play well, just don’t win against us.  A player might also have on their team former opponents that they have gone up against.  All past experiences are forgotten as the players work together to help the team become better.  Make no mistake about it, players keep up with volleyball friends, they seek them out at tournaments and enjoy reliving past experiences.

Parents should go to as many games as possible. There is nothing like watching Betty play a game she loves and plays well.  And you probably didn’t know that volleyball is now the number two sport in Women’s NCAA play.  So come to the game.  But when you go to the game, you should become familiar with the rules of the game so you can appreciate the split second reaction time required and the skill.

When in the stands cheer for your team (not just Betty).  If you don’t know the names of the different players on your team, learn them.  Don’t yell at the other team. Don’t make rude remarks.  Be a good parent and a good sport.  If a player on the other team makes a really difficult play, cheer and clap.  If someone on your team does something stupid, bite your tongue.  It is tempting when your team makes several mistakes in a row to yell, Come on! Wake UP! Pay Attention!!” But this doesn’t help.  Players are taught at every practice to ignore the stands, but it’s hard to ignore Mom and Dad.  And all you are doing is putting more pressure on your daughter, which she may or may not be able to handle.  If you can’t say anything good, keep quiet.  Go to Positive Coaching to see other things you can do to help foster positive influences in your daughter’s volleyball experience.

As for the rules, learn them.  There is nothing like a know-it-all parent in the stands trying to correct a ref.  If the ref makes an incorrect call (almost never happens) the coach will do something.  There are many nuances to volleyball.  Learn what a set interference is and why a ref may or may not call it.  Learn what an improper positioning is (there’s a chore) and try to keep track of everyone on the court.  Learn why, when someone’s foot is under the net, no call is made.  Learn when the ball hits the line it may or may not be in.  When the ball hits the basketball backboard it may or may not be out.  When the ponytail hits the net is it an in the net?  When the first touch at the net may or may not be a block and therefore the team may have 2 or 3 more hits.  Why not start here?:  Frequently Asked Questions
Look at the ref that blows the whistle to see what was just called versus asking the person next to you “Why did we lose that point”?” Don’t yell at the linesman when they make a call you don’t like.  Don’t yell at the refs.  Believe it or not a ref can ask you to leave a game.

And keep track of siblings.  It’s great to bring them along, but at certain ages, they get bored and off they go to wreck havoc in the gym.  Pretty soon the officials are looking for a parent to administrate to a kid with a busted lip or worse.  Remind them that the gym is not a baby sitting area, if they come, they have to sit in the stands and watch.  Not run around kicking balls, climbing ladders, fighting with other kids or in these days and times worse…

But come to the game and have fun.  And make sure your child is having fun.  After all it is more important to PLAY as a team than it is to win, although winning is fun too.

The Appeal of Volleyball . . . Well, other than it being an indoor sport (not the beach kind) and you don’t get rained on or freeze or melt like some other sports. And you don’t run up and down the court till you puke.  And (usually) you don’t have collisions between players that produce concussions, broken bones or pulled ligaments.  And you have at least two refs whose only job is to look down the line (well mostly).  And you change benches after a game, transferring the water bottles, cups, jackets, and stuff.  Where some of your best friends also play the game.  And there is action and there is power.  There is also comedy and comradeship.  Where no one says anything when you fail to dig up a crushing kill.  When you make a mistake, you raise your hand and no one says anything about it.  When the ref can quiet a coach with the wag of a finger.  Where most adults will give you a blank stare when you describe a 6-2.

During a practice one time I watched a team start off with full court sprints.

There was one girl who always seemed to come in last. Try as hard as she could and she was next to last.  It could have been the knee brace (knee injury, not sure exactly what).  It could have been the pain (Advil before practice) or whatever.  Speed was not this girl’s forte.  But she could play back row.  When she was back row and a play was on, she was usually the only one back there.  But hardly anything ever hit the floor.  She was quick.  A kill in front of her and she pancaked it up.  A dink to the corner and she swiped it back into the air.  An attack at the corner and she was laid out trying to get a hand on it.  It was interesting watching her.  I got the best angle I could and watched her.  She watched the hitters (eyes, stomach, arm, ?) and was moving before the hitter finished her arm swing.  She just seemed to know where it was going and was already moving to meet it.  And she moved even if the block was there.  She was moving even if only to backup the middle.  Quickness is an asset in volleyball, more than speed.  And quickness is a trait to develop.  If you are waiting for the ball to travel that first 4 feet after the hitter connects, you are waiting too long.  Too many players are left standing looking at the floor where the ball just hit without ever moving a muscle, saying to themselves “Wow that came down fast.  Maybe I should take up basketball.”” Develop those fast twitch muscle fibers.  Learn to watch the hitters for indications of the path of the ball, even if it is not coming to you.  Clean your shoes so there is no slip.  Learn the shortcuts that will allow you to move to a spot with the least amount of effort.  Ever play the slap hand game?  Develop practice like that for the whole body, legs and arms.

Details . . .
When I was a kid I used to watch a black and white TV show (does that date me) called The Adventures of Robin Hood.

There is one show I remember about a visitor to Sherwood Forest who wanted to learn to be a great archer.  He asked Robin Hood to teach him.  Robin didn’t start out showing how to hold the bow and finger position, but sent him to the bow maker and fletcher where he started out carving the arrows and attaching the feathers to the arrows before he learned how to select and cure the wood for the bow.  All of this before he even drew a bow.

If you want to be great at volleyball you have to approach it in a similar manner.  You need to learn all of the details.  How wide is the court?  How wide is the net? Everyone knows how tall the net is (and you should be able to tell it is setup correctly with an outstretched arm), but how tall is the bottom of the net?  How much pressure in a ball?  What is a floating bladder ball?  What is a volleyball shoe?  Why?  How long will they last?  Why?  How does an ankle brace work?  Who won the NCAA Final Four?  Who was their coach?  Who was the MVP of the Final Four?  Who was the State Champion in High School Volleyball?  Can you name 4 of the top 10 Club teams in your state?  How many volleyballs can you fit in a cart?  Knowing the answer to these questions will not make you play volleyball any better, but they will make you a better volleyball player.  Learning the details helps to re-enforce the commitment and dedication of the game of volleyball.

Info I came across:
Length of court=59’
Width of court=29.6”
Length of net: =32’
Height of Women’s net=74.125”
Post Width=39’
Circumference of ball=25.5-27”
Size of net mesh squares=4”
Weight of ball=0.5-0.6 lb
Pressure of ball=4.3-4.6 lb/sqin
Lighting 1m above court=27.9 candles

Parents often say to me, “Why do you shag the balls during (practice, games, warm-ups)?””

Well several reasons.  I need the exercise.  It’s not really hard, you walk around the gym, pick up any loose ball, and put them in the cart.  What else you gonna do, sit and read?  If you are going to watch your daughter practice/play, do something useful.  Don’t just sit there and talk to other parents about the weather.  In club, I pay some money for practice time.  I would rather the girls practice than shag balls.  Warm up time before a game is determined by the clock and if a girl is chasing her ball around the gym, she is not getting her warm up time in.  At a tournament most teams only carry six balls.  Six hits and everyone has to wait for the balls to be corralled. But I really do need the exercise.

I just got back from a nationally ranked tournament where I saw something disturbing.  Now I know that this is not the norm and that most parents know better, but watching a 17s team warm up there was a parent (who should know better considering) who twice nearly caused serious injury to one of her daughter’s teammates.  She was at the end line helping to shag the balls for the hitting warm-up. Twice she caught a hit ball and instead of tossing it to the girl with her hand up waving for the ball she rolled it back into the hitting area. Twice there was the call of BALL!! to an approaching hitter.  The first time the girl had already taken her jump and came down with feet straddling the ball.  The second time the girl aborted her take off before she would have come down on the ball.  It’s great to help out the team during warm-ups and the girls appreciate not having to chase the ball all over the court but don’t ever throw a ball back into where the warm-ups are happening.  Look for a girl with her hand up.  If you can toss it to her go ahead, but if you can’t, don’t. This goes for little brother and sister also who desperately want to help and show how they can fling the ball.  Too often they get it back to the net, but you really don’t know where.  If the girl can’t handle the throw it could go under the net directly into the path of a girl in the air who really can’t control where she will land since she is concentrating on the hit and not the landing.  If there is no girl waving her hand, don’t just throw it back toward the tosser as they aren’t watching incoming balls and a bounce off of a knee is just as bad.  Hang onto it, until someone calls for it.  Some years ago I saw a player in practice come down on a wayward ball, land funny and badly sprain an ankle.  She could have just as easily torn her ACL and been out for a year.

Volleyball Photography – Very hard to do right. There are two types: still and video.

Since my video hails from 1992, I am most familiar with still. The modern video camera is the size of a paperback book and does a great job. Wish I had one. Still cameras are two types: film and digital. Since most games are played in a dark gym or dark convention center or dark warehouse or (you get the meaning) you need to get a camera with a fast lens and quick film. The digital camera I use has an ASA rating of 400 which is great for outdoors action shots, but inside requires a fast lens to stop the action unless you are going to use a flash (almost always a no-no). The lens I have is a 2.8, which means fast action shots are going to turn out blurred. Now my film camera allows me to use 1600 film and with its 1.2 lens allows stop action photography, but since I shoot maybe 60-70 shots per match, film costs are high. Since I shoot many shots for the web, a digital camera is more convenient; so most shots are getting ready to serve type rather than the kill at the net.

The 35mm film camera most often used by grandma at birthday parties is fine if you want to show how crowded the gym is, but is essentially useless to show the squinting of the blocker at the net as the ball comes screaming across. A zoom lens is required here (at least a telephoto), but the closer it gets you to the action the more it is going to cost. That is why those great shots in the newspaper taken during the game is taken with a camera on a monopod, since the photographer cannot hold its weight by himself.

To take great shots, you have to get close to the action. The ref will want you to stay at least 6 feet away but you can get closer during warm-ups. The best place to be is right by the net as this is where the action is and you can shoot back row players and get their faces. Shooting from behind the back line will only get the backs of players unless you are shooting people on the other side, in which case you have the net in the way. Shooting elevated (above the net height) allows for some great shots, but you have the ref in the way on one side and you cannot get in the way of the down ref, so again you need a telephoto.

The one thing I have found is that the lighting in the gym is most often strange. For digital cameras and video cameras, you have to set the white balance or your shots could turn out purple, green or red. You have to be wary of those overhead lights. Film camera photography may require post processing.

Most games are lost, not won ~ Casel Stengel
Yeah, but he played baseball. What exactly does that mean?

In most team sports there is a winner and a loser.  Who does what is determined by the play of the game.  And usually the outcome of the game is determined by the team who makes fewer mistakes, because that usually determines the winner rather than a spectacular play.  A mistake is a failure to perform the actions of the game in an average manner. They even have a stat for this in baseball, an error.  That is when someone fails to perform a routine operation.  This is not counted in volleyball, but the outcome can be disastrous.  When a player hits a free ball into the net or long.  When a player fails to serve the ball over the net.  When the setter sets the ball into the pole.  When a hitter whiffs the kill.  These are basic operations that an average player should be able to accomplish.  Now a really great player can do some wonderful things in these situations that could help produce a point and maybe a win.  But as Casey said more games are lost than won.  If you play average and don’t make a mistake and the other team plays average and makes mistakes, the first team will win.  And on average a player will make more mistakes than great plays.  When first starting to learn the game, a team which plays solid and gets the ball over the net will have a good chance of winning as the other team will surly try something they are not great at, make a mistake and give away a point.  And the more the other team handles the ball, the greater the chance they will make a mistake.

This of course doesn’t apply as the teams get more experienced and plays better.  Or does it?  How many times have you seen a team get into a hole due to great blocking and start to pull the kills wide, or long?  Once a mistake is made, the mental part of volleyball will start to assert itself and mistake piles on mistake until the game is lost.  How many times after a game do you hear “We could have beaten that team.  We are better than we played.””That game was lost, the other team didn’t win.  The game where you can honestly say “We almost won.””Or  “They just barely beat us.”” Is a game that was won.  Which one happens more?  The game where you go into it thinking, “Why are we here, we are going to get our butts kicked.”” Is lost before the game starts.