Braves focus on ball control at volleyball camp


Ball control was the name of the game for Brownstown’s middle school volleyball camp that head coach Jennifer Shade put on at Brownstown Central High School last week.

The camp ran five days from 11 a.m. 12:30 p.m., and for the seventh- and eighth-graders in attendance, it was all about controlling the ball.

“Ball control, ball control, ball control,” Shade said. “Any time we can work on ball control at this age, that’s what will win ballgames for you when you get older.”

Shade said there’s a certain passing form they try to teach the girls, and that’s hands on the knees, palms up, lock and hold. They try to teach that to the players at a young age.

Shade and company taught similar drills two weeks ago when they hosted a camp for incoming fifth- and sixth-graders.

“We always push that technique on the young ones,” Shade said.

They did a number of drills last week during the middle school camp. They had the girls on the move, running toward the ball to get a pass off, and they had them stationary to execute serve receive passes.

The age group that was in attendance last week was pretty used to the drills Shade had them running. Shade works with them all winter long, as well, so a lot of them know what to expect when it comes to summer camp.

“It’s important for those kids that have played for us, it’s nice because when they come into high school, I don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining drills,” Shade said. “They already know those.”

The drills that Shade runs with the varsity high school team also are done with the fifth-graders. Obviously, it is altered a bit to tailor to their skill level, but it gets across the same fundamental concepts.

“We try to do the same drills so when the kids get to high school, it’s a no-brainer,” Shade said.

One of the most gratifying things about these camps is seeing the improvements the kids make on a day-to-day basis.

“What’s amazing to me is kids that we didn’t have serving over the net let’s say in January and February, those kids are now bombing their serves over,” Shade said. “Same thing with hitting. Kids that weren’t using an approach in January, they’re now able to do the left-right-left and using an approach to hit the ball.

“So I promise you, every day in camp, we see a little bit of improvement in these kids, especially in the areas like serving and just being a little bit stronger.”

Some of the girls on the high school team were at the camp last week to help with the drills and teach the younger players about the game.

Shade said the high school players love helping out at the camp. Some of them were in charge of the aux cord and played throwback songs from artists like the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus to create an upbeat, fun environment during the drills.

“It’s good for the high school kids because it puts them in position to work with the young and be patient,” Shade said. “It’s funny because they always complain about my tosses in practice, then they get out there and try to toss it and they can’t do it, either.

“On the flip side, it’s also good for the young ones to have those kids on the court with them just to see that, ‘OK, I might be able to get that good someday. I can’t do some of those things right now, but it will eventually happen,’ is what we tell the kids. So it’s good for them see the high school kids,” Shade said.

The camps are now wrapped up for the Braves’ volleyball team, and the rest of the summer will feature league play and tournaments at Jennings County and Hanover College, respectively.

Official practices will start to get rolling in August.

“We have them in the gym a lot,” Shade said of the high school team. “And we need to be.”

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