August 18, 2019

10 Fake Reasons to Skip Sports

Disclaimer: this is a rant.

I grew up hating people who skipped practices and games. My first memories of learning that skipping sports was wrong were as a very young child - I'm talking I was six years old.

My dad was coaching long before I showed up and long after I left the house, so the coach's perspective is how my brain has been trained. On top of that, my dad was also usually the high school's athletic director, so even a larger umbrella perspective of all the sports and how coaches and teams have to learn to coexist was the talk in my house.

But this isn't just something that my parents complained about together, or as if they didn't understand.


The best thing was that my dad 100% practiced what he preached. I can sit here and try to rack my brain for ANY memory of him missing a practice or a game EVER and never come up with anything. I don't think I can even remember him missing a day of work, period.

I don't remember ever skipping practice. I remember being too sick, or when I got my wisdom teeth out, and I still went and sat on the side and watched. Teenagers didn't really have cell phones then, so I literally just sat there and watched. I became an assistant coach after my season-ending knee surgery. I didn't miss practices then and I don't miss practices now.

Why? Because commitment matters.

Commitment is showing up. Commitment is being there in whatever capacity you have. Commitment is the only way a team can improve as individuals and come together as a group. Commitment, commitment, commitment.


1. I'm tired.

Manage your sleep schedule better. See you at practice so you can be tired enough to sleep tonight.

2. I'm sore.

Manage your off-season, warm-up, cool-down, and recovery better. See you at practice.

3. I'm sick.
EXCEPTION: vomiting, diarrhea, massive fever, or in the hospital.

I will bring you hot tea and soup. Come learn the team systems we will work on today and do some individual repetitions. See you at practice.

4. I'm injured.
EXCEPTION: in the hospital, or must not move during injury at all.

We have chairs in the gym. You will do individual exercises for the non-injured areas. See you at practice.

5. I have to study.

Manage your free time better and turn your cell phone off. See you at practice.
(Read this. Also, never try to play college sports in the USA.)

6. I'm going to a birthday party.

Sure. Before and after practice.

7. I'm going on vacation.

For the entire season. Bye.
(Have you heard of the off-season months???)

8. I'm going shopping/running errands.

No. No, you're not.
(Are those places even open during late evening practice times?!)

9. I'm going to a concert/movie/show/whatever.

Why are you on this team? Were you going to invite us?!

10. (No message, no reason.)


What are real reasons to skip practices or games? Honestly, I would only really say real emergencies or last-minute, unexpected and unsolvable complications.

A compilation of what my dad said over and over again was, "When you join a team, you make a commitment to be a part of that team. It means all the practices, all the games, and all the team events. It means being there physically, mentally, and emotionally, from the very beginning to the very end. And that's the minimum."

I believe 10000000% that learning this from a very young age is the biggest reason why I am thirty-three years old and still getting paid to play volleyball.

Yes, I am also paid to coach, and this "minimum" is the foundational part of that career, too. How?

Because I believe that every moment with the team matters, I make sure that every moment with the team matters.

This means I do not waste time in practice. This means the games have a plan and a purpose, both for the team and every player. This means that team events are not just accidentally fun. Yes, this absolutely means that I try to use every moment as a strategy to build a stronger and better team.

This is why I when I have had bad coaches* and bad teammates,** I have learned that I have to give more and be more for my team. Sometimes that has really rubbed the bad guys the wrong way.

*Defining bad coaches, I would boil it down to things like: they have no control of the team, they waste practice time with inefficient/non-game-related activities, or they are coaching at the wrong level (whether too high or too low) for themselves. (If they are unmotivated, abusive in any way, doing drugs, whatever, this is more than a bad coach: this a bad person, and that's an entirely other problem than just the actual sport coaching.)

In the USA: about 20% of my experiences were with bad coaches. In Europe: 80%. After getting to coach half of my team's practices this season, I have realized that I am too old and have coached too long to put up with being told to do nonsensical activities anymore.

**Defining bad teammates, it usually just comes down to selfishness. I don't understand why anyone who only cares about themselves plays team sports. They literally have individual sports for you. Go away and do that. Skip as many practices and games as you want then, because nobody else is depending on you.

In the USA and Europe, the good-to-bad teammate ratio has been generally the same. But I will say that attendance and tardiness was much stricter in the USA on all my teams, and this helped a ton with building team identity. The team was 99% exactly the same people together, every time.

1๐Ÿ“ธ “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2๐Ÿ“ธ If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3๐Ÿ“ธ If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4๐Ÿ“ธ Love is patient, love is kind. 5๐Ÿ“ธ It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 6๐Ÿ“ธ It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 7๐Ÿ“ธ Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 8๐Ÿ“ธ It always protects, always trusts, 9๐Ÿ“ธ always hopes, always perseveres. 10๐Ÿ“ธ Love never fails.” ๐Ÿ“–✝️๐Ÿค— 1Corinthians 13:1-8 ❤️❤️❤️ ๐Ÿ“ธcredits @aliaskeiner ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ . . . . . #athletesabroad #hashtagvolleyballgoals #dritteligavolleyball #GoDingos #DingoSwag #teamfirst #watersecond #whoisfrank #aiavolleyball
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I could over-analyze why there may be differences between the continents in sports commitments, but I actually think it's less of a cultural issue and more of a personal issue. We all build our lives around what our priorities are and what we think matters the most.

We all have the exact same amount of time. Every team requires a certain amount, whether it's thirty hours per week or six hours per week. The point is, every player needs to understand their personal priorities and then find the team that fits what they are willing and ready to give of their time. There are tons of choices for us to make about how we want to spend our free time, and sport is one of those options.

From Monday through Friday, we all have 120 hours. Give or take 40 hours for sleeping. Put away another 30-40 hours for working (if you are a real person and not a professional athlete). That still leaves at least 40 full hours to decide how to spend. The European teams I've played on and coached have practiced maximum three times per week. Taking 4-6 hours out of all this free time is a no-brainer!

I might sound like an American maniac in this post, but I am VERY picky about how much volleyball I do during the week, too! I don't choose to do forty hours of volleyball per week because I want to look forward to it and love it and bring my best energy to it in every moment. I understand my personal priorities and I have found clubs and teams that fit with what I am able to bring to the table.

I still hate when people skip practices and games, but I try to get over it for when they do show up. I also think it's super important to not take out that anger on the players who ARE present. The players who make it a priority and who care about their team will find a way to show up and respect their commitment to the team.

Respect your commitments and respect your coach's and your teammates' time...even if they don't deserve it. Normally, your commitment to being present with the team will reward you in at least one of these two sports ways: 1) taking your personal skills to a much higher level, and/or 2) getting to perform your skills with your team in the matches. Let alone the rewards from developing more meaningful relationships, helping others grow, and being a part of a caring and supportive team.

Nobody has ever gotten to an end of a season and said, "Wow, my only regret is that I went to too many practices."

Invest in yourself by investing in your team, and show up!!!