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8 Ways to Become a Better Teammate

8 Ways to Become a Better Teammate


Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once said “One man can be a crucial ingredient to a team, but one man cannot make a team.” It’s important to take heed to his words. Teams are most successful when they join together to become more than a collection of individuals, but a unified group of athletes seeking one purpose: team success.

There are plenty of examples in the sports world of both good and bad teammates. The bad ones usually have some combination of laziness, selfishness, arrogance, and apathy. What exactly embodies a good teammate? What are the qualities and traits that make an athlete someone that their teammates not only enjoy being around, but also contribute to the success of the team? Here are 8 things you can do:

5 Ways for Student-Athletes to Balance Academic and Athletic Demands

5 Ways for Students-Athletes to Balance academic and Athletic Demands

By: Chelsea Mottern


During my time as a collegiate volleyball coach one of the most common questions I got from recruits' parents was "Is it hard to balance athletics and academics?" My response was to ask if the student-athlete was currently struggling to balance athletics and academics. The answer was most often a hard "no".

Scientifically, it has been proven over and over again that physical activity leads to an increase in academic performance, testing scores, and mental acuity. The Center for Disease Control published a report showing the correlation between physical activity and a number of positive outcomes, including self-esteem, GPA, standardized testing scores, attentiveness, creativity and planning ability.

Playing Time


Playing Time, (PT). Those two very magical and powerful words that can bring you great joy or misery, that can leave you beaming or in tears. Playing Time can make or break your season, not to mention your athletic career. Every athlete wants PT, yet only a select few will actually consistently achieve it. Many players who do get it feel like they can never get enough of it. Playing Time is like that golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You’re willing to do almost anything to get it and when you do, your world is brightened with wondrous possibility and opportunity. Everything looks and feels terrific and you’re on top of the world. However, should you be unlucky enough to come up empty, to let that “golden ticket” slip through your fingers, suddenly everything in your life takes on a dark pall. You stop smiling and laughing. You lose your love for the sport. Your motivation to improve does a disappearing act. Your self-confidence flies south for the season. You stop caring about school and about life. You feel totally miserable, resentful and ripped off. It’s as if you’ve got this big, ugly and smelly, 2-ton troll sitting squarely on your shoulders weighing you down no matter where you go. In this issue of The Mental Toughness Newsletter we will examine the wonderful world of Playing Time and all the misery and heartache it brings to athletes and their parents, not to mention the coaches who dole it out.

ATHLETES’ LOCKER – “You know, I should be playing a whole lot more! - Harnessing the frustration of limited PT” 
PARENTS’ CORNER – “Dealing with a child who gets limited playing time” 
COACH’S OFFICE - “Handling your role players effectively” 
DR. G’S TEACHING TALES – “Maintain humility” 


“You know, I should be playing a whole lot more! – Harnessing the frustration of limited PT”

So how much playing time are you really getting? And, if you’re not getting enough, do you think that the situation is fair? Do you think the coach is giving PT to some of your less talented or less deserving teammates who you’re convinced should not be playing in front of you?

Cobb Atlanta's Club Physician


  CAJ's Club Physiciana - Dr. Jessica C. Bilotta

Atlanta, GA – Cobb Atlanta Juniors Volleyball (CAJ) is excited to announce the addition of Dr. Jessica C. Bilotta as the club physician. With specialties in general orthopaedics and sports medicine, Dr. Bilotta will play an integral role in keeping the club healthy while offering a vast range of expertise.


With the addition of Dr. Bilotta, Cobb Atlanta players will be able to make a next-day appointment at her office for injuries. Additionally, she or her staff will be on-call to determine the urgency of injuries occurring during play. This helps relieve the minds of players, parents, and coaches when competing in club volleyball.


Dr. Bilotta has been providing the southeast with medical attention since receiving her Medical Degree from the Medical College of Georgia. There, she graduated with honors and went on to complete an orthopaedic residency at the University of Alabama in Birmingham as well as a Sports Medicine Fellowship at Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center. Her impressive achievements will certainly aid Cobb Atlanta in the coming months.


“We are excited to add Dr. Bilotta as our club doctor and the wealth of experience she brings to our club,” Cobb Atlanta Director Jessica Turnbull said. “Our first priority is always our players health and safety, and the addition of Dr. Bilotta as the club doctor only helps us protect our players. Cobb Atlanta is excited to add Dr. Bilotta to the team!”


Currently, Dr. Bilotta is a physician with Pinnacle Orthopaedics and sees patients in Marietta, Woodstock, and Acworth. She and other doctors at Pinnacle Orthopaedics are currently the team doctors for the athletics teams at Kennesaw State University.

Recruiting Blog

Those who have made it to the recruiting talks know that college coaches are trying to answer four major questions on their side:


(1)  Will you make our team better on the court? 

(2)  Will you fit in with our team?

(3)  Will you be mature enough to handle the time demands of college-level athletics and academics?

(4)  Do you really want to play for my school?


Those four questions, then, should be the guide for you as a player.  In order for a coach to answer those questions:


(1)  they have to see you play.  That means if you don’t have any video yet, put some together.  There’s no need for you to spend hours in a gym putting together a skills tape.  Pull some highlights off of your most recent tournament, and send those around.  Most schools do not have the budget to go flying around the country watching players they don’t know anything about. However, many coaches will want to see a player play live before they make any kind of offer.  With that, the video is the hook that you use to show a coach that it’s worth it for them to make the trip to see you play face-to-face. It also means that every time you write a coach, you should include your schedule and any upcoming events you have that are either in their area, or that are national-level events (qualifiers, USAV nationals, or AAU nationals).


(2)  they need to hear from YOU, the player.  When coaches get letters from a parent or coach, there’s very little they can do with it.  They don’t know whether you actually want to play for them or if the parent is the one who is really interested.


(3)  They should be getting individual letters that are individually addressed (e.g, “Hi Coach Fletcher,” rather than “Hey Coach,”).  Do not mass email coaches.  Yes, it takes a little more time to send emails out individually, but if you send the message to a bunch of schools at once, the odds of those schools actually reading and taking note of your email drop substantially.  Show coaches that you want to go to THEIR school, rather than showing them you want to go to ANY school.


All of this is to say, the recruiting process should be very much player-driven.  An email or a phone call from a parent can be looked at as a negative (Why isn’t this player taking the time to contact me herself?).  A message from a coach is fine, but it should be a follow-up rather than the first contact.  If you want to play in college, it’s up to you to get your name out there.


That is not to say, though, that you’re on your own.  If you don’t know what to put in your highlight tape, ask! Or if you don’t feel really comfortable with an email you’re trying to write – send it over! I’d be happy to take a look. 


Strength Training & the Burpee

Hopefully all of you have read my first blog.  I want to cover two items in this edition, strength training and the burpee.  Two random items but hopefully you find the following interesting about them.
1)  Strength - An athletes ability to create force is very important to their ability to move either themselves or an external object.  Let me share how this applies to volleyball athletes with an analogy of my two boys.  One is 11 and one is 5.  If I were to train them both at any skill that involved some sort of strength component like throwing, kicking, hitting, setting, serving, etc. this would be the outcome.  My 11 year old will throw the ball or hit the ball, etc. farther and faster than my 5 year old.  Technique is irrelevant at this point.  I could spend 40 hours a week with my youngest teaching mechanics and not an hour with my oldest.  Result would be the same.  My older son simply has two to three times the strength and with minimal technique he will win.  One can only apply as much power as they are able to create.  You get the point.  Let me clarify that technique is extremely important.  But that is only part of the equation.  Beauty is when strength and technique work together but more often than not athletes simply aren't strong enough when compared to higher level athletes.
But weightlifting is bad for my child?  Let's define what I mean by weightlifting.  If an athlete is trying to perform a 1 rep max, meaning they are trying to lift as much as they can for 1 rep, then there is potential for problems.  I didn't say it was bad as there is a time and place for it but for our purposes in our sessions we don't need to do that.  If they are lifting weights with sub maximal loads near 20% to 40% of their proposed 1 rep max at a rep range that is easily performed then they are in a safe zone.  This allows them to learn technique and start build strength at the same time.  The risk for injury is extremely low.  At athletes mature mentally and physically then can start handling more intensity by increasing one or all of the following: Load, speed of rep, number of reps, time under tension, decreased rest time, etc.  With any weightlifting the most important items to remember are safety first, build your technique and increase intensity slowly.

High School Tryouts - Giving It Your All

High School Tryouts: Giving It Your All

High school season tryouts are just around the corner, August 1st, and most of the girls trying out are starting to feel the pressure and responsibility of making their high school team.  

As an experienced coach, I would like to share some words of encouragement and advice to those of you who are uncertain or might have questions about how to play your best at tryouts.

We have all faced challenges at some point in our lives, and in my opinion, tryouts can be one of the biggest challenges of youth sports. With that in mind, let’s talk about some do's and don’t's that will help you get through your days of tryouts!

Show Off Your Hard Work

Use tryouts as an opportunity for you to show your prospective coaches all the hard work you have put into becoming a better player. Tryouts should give you a great sense of accomplishment regardless of whether you make the team or not. The reality is that you need to give tryouts your all! You have practiced countless hours and have attended numerous fitness sessions and clinics to become a better player. Nobody but you can control how you tryout. Remember that you have the skills to do great. Be confident and always show your enthusiasm.

Be A Team Player

There are girls who will try out hoping to belong to a select group of student-athletes. Your ultimate goal is to be happy with what you do. Stay positive throughout tryouts with the eagerness of an athlete, hungry for competition and accepting nothing but success. Be determined to work as hard as you can and leave it all on the court. This is what all successful athletes do.

If the result is not ultimately what you had hoped for, even after giving it your all, it is OK. You are young, healthy, smart and will keep working hard to reach your goals. 

GOOD Luck!

Have confidence, play fearlessly, use all tools that have been given to you by your coaches and leave all worries aside; you are working for your goals! Best of luck to all of you!

New KSU Assistant Coach- Kim Fletcher!

We are excited to offer congratulations to Kim Fletcher who has taken on the role of assistant volleyball coach at Kennesaw State University! 
With her wealth of coaching and playing experience, Kim is a welcome addition to the Kennesaw State coaching staff. She began her coaching path locally in the Cobb community at Kennesaw State as a volunteer assistant coach in 2007. Shortly after, Fletcher served on the coaching staff at South Dakota State. 
Fletcher was a middle at Notre Dame for four seasons, helping take the Irish to the NCAA Tournament all four years. After her collegiate volleyball career, Fletcher played professionally for one season in 2009 in Klagenfurt, Austria, for the Sparkasse Wildcats.
Off the court, Fletcher has a master's degree in Sociology from Western Kentucky University. Fletcher is currently seeking a doctoral degree in International Conflict Management from Kennesaw State.
Kim has been an incredible asset to the Cobb Atlanta coaching staff, and we can be sure to see great things from her in her new position at KSU!

Cobb Atlanta Names New Set Coach - Bri Schunzel to join team

Cobb Atlanta Juniors Volleyball is pleased to announce that Bri Schunzel has been hired as a new program coach, specializing in setting and attacking. Coach Schunzel is a perfect fit for the growing program.

Coach Schunzel has been providing volleyball instruction for ages five and up for the past seven years. Her vast experience in coaching and specialty in setting drills will not only help setters, but enhance the skills of each player on the team. Through her enthusiastic personality and emphasis on setting, Schunzel plans on going through the various mechanics and skills a good setter needs.

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to join the Cobb Atlanta volleyball family,” said Schunzel. “I couldn't be more excited to share my passion for the game and knowledge of the sport with the players, and be a part of an organization that is committed to growing and developing junior volleyball."

Besides being a four-year starting setter at Ohio University, Schunzel played a year of professional volleyball for RC Villebon 91 in Paris, France and led her team to a French National title. While overseas, she also coached a regional women's team, which helped her realize her passion for coaching. 

Schunzel joins the list of fantastic coaches on the Cobb Atlanta staff, who all help the teams compete in competitions around the nation.

“We are very excited to bring in such a talented coach from the local area,” Cobb Atlanta Director Jessica Turnbull said.  Every coach we bring on increases our competitive edge in the region and will help each player develop to their full potential.”

Read more about Coach Schunzel here

Atlanta Sand Open

We had the pleasure to host the 1st Atlanta Sand Open on Saturday, June 29th  at the beautiful GSU Sand Facility.   


A total of 31 teams ranging from 12 to 20 years old came out to compete with lots of energy and excitement to make the event a huge success.   We had teams representing four different clubs and from as far as Huntsville, AL. The atmosphere couldn't have been better as parents and spectators joined in with their tents, coolers and beach gear to make it a true sand event!  


Congratulations to all teams who participated in the tournament, we look forward to seeing you all again in our Summer wrap-up session and future tournaments!  


Be sure to follow all of our summer and sand updates here.


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