Long story short, it should be. Head volleyball coach Lindsay Peterson explains the structure she uses to get to know her players.

Here we go again. The high school volleyball season is upon us. Like every good coach, you’ve meticulously planned out your season...right? Actually, if this is you, then I’m impressed—and also jealous!

As I began laying things out, getting my thoughts and ideas together for the next year, I'm reminded of one of the most important things I have to plan for: getting to know my players and building these relationships.

Let me stress to you that, even though I know this is very important for our players, there’s always a part of me that’s wondering if our time would be better spent in the gym, getting ready for our first match. But I also know building a team begins with building bonds between players and coaches.

So I thought I’d share with you something I’ve found helpful over the years, something I make sure to do every year with every player on my team.

Set up role meetings

I like to do these individually with my players. I sit each one of them down and ask them what role they see for themselves for the year.

Do these several times a year

My cadence is usually three meetings a year, but I meet with some players even more. I like to hold them at the beginning, somewhere in the middle, and at the end of our season. That way it’s easy for them to see how they’ve changed and grown over the year. We look at what we wrote down last time and whether it looks the same or has changed dramatically.

Here’s an example

This is a role meeting my assistant and I had with a former player. (Her name has been changed.)


Name: Leanne

Position: Rightside

Name three positive things about yourself as a player:

  • See the court well
  • Defensive right side
  • Organized

    Three downfalls you have as a player:

    • Impatient
    • Offense
    • Poor facial expression

    Three things you want to improve before you graduate:

    • Stronger
    • Faster
    • Communication

    Three things you’ll bring to the team:

    • Leadership
    • Energy
    • Calmness

    Where do you see yourself in your position?

    As a right side, second in line behind Emily

    What do you need from us as coaches?

    • Feedback
    • Encouragement


    My takeaways

    Player’s mentality

    It’s so interesting to sit with each kid and go over these questions with them. Like many of us, it’s hard for them to articulate their own positive impact. But when it comes to their downfalls, they seem to have a list a mile long!

    Creating relationships

    These questions enable us to have an open dialogue about where they see themselves, and more authentic conversations about where we, as coaches, see them.


    Writing down the details of these conversations has also been helpful when speaking with parents and players about playing time. An added bonus!

    Lind­say Peter­son has been a var­si­ty head coach for eight years. She played for the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Alaba­ma, help­ing them win the DII Nation­al Cham­pi­onship in 2003. Peter­son has led her Mil­lard North High School team to the state cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment sev­en times, win­ning in 2016 and 2018. She was named one of the top 40 coach­es in the coun­try by the AVCA, and Coach of the Year by the Oma­ha World-Herald.