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Calli’s Corner: Why volleyball players don’t just let the ball go out of bounds

by Calli Newberry

I’ve been watching volleyball for about two months now and time after time I have watched players sprint to save a ball that was clearly going to land out of bounds.

It was always so frustrating to me. Teams could earn at least five to 10 points a game by doing less work if that had just left the ball alone. 

In an effort to sound professional and appear to know more about the sport than I really do, I never asked about this phenomenon in any of my post-match interviews with coaches and players. But last night granted me the perfect opportunity to resolve this nagging question. 

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Several Marysville volleyball players had come to scout their potential District opponents at the St. Clair-Marine City match and they just so happened to sit near me. I had asked them a few questions about their team and their season, and they seemed nice enough to answer my potentially dumb question. 

So finally I turned around and asked, “So why do players not just let the ball go out of bounds?”

They smiled and graciously answered my question. 

One said often a blocker will just barely tip the ball so you have to try to save it or else the opponent will get the point anyway. Another said when you’re on the court, especially in the middle of a long volley, you lose sense of where you are sometimes and it’s better to play it safe by going after the ball rather than letting it drop in bounds and lose the point that way. 

I can now watch volleyball peacefully knowing that there’s a reason for all of these out-of-bounds pursuits, and hopefully, if you’re anything like me, you can too. 

But seriously, there’s a greater lesson to be learned here. For me, as an outsider, the game is so much different. I’ve never played in a real match so I don’t know what it’s like to be on the court during an intense volley. 

By asking and gaining insight as to how the game is played and what the players are experiencing when they’re on the court, my perspective shifted. I get it now and I don’t get confused or frustrated when they don’t just let the ball go. 

There are so many similar circumstances like this in life in general. This may be a silly, minor example, like I don’t leave the gym upset because of this. But there have been other things in my own life that have happened that I don’t understand and I leave the situation upset. And rather than asking a question or trying to gain perspective, I just stay upset. 

I’ve been upset with coaches before, and instead of asking why I had to do one workout instead of a different one, or why I had to run one event instead of another, I’d just do whatever the coaches say. I’d grumble my way through the reps instead of trying to understand why that workout or event in particular was more beneficial at that time. 

And beyond sports, there have been times I’ve been frustrated or hurt by the way someone treated me, and instead of asking for his or her perspective, I just make assumptions, and they’re usually not good ones or even accurate. 

“Why?” is such a powerful question. It can free us of negative emotions and give us fresh perspective, and it can even give us opportunities to tell someone our own thoughts and give them a different insight as well. 

It shows kindness and humility and leads to a great opportunity for grace to be shared, and that’s certainly something we could all use a little more of. 

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