I went up for the hit at practice and barely grazed the ball. I might not have played volleyball for six years but there was something else wrong with my hitting. So I asked. Even though I was a coach and maybe should have had it all together, I walked over to another coach, who is an excellent hitter, and said, “ok, what am I doing wrong?”
He told me. The next hit wasn’t great (remember that whole six year gap?) but it did feel like hitting when I corrected the problem.
So much of growth comes from being teachable. It was the first thing I told my girls when we held our first practice alone. Learning to play volleyball is, in a large part, based on how teachable you are. Will you be offended when you’re corrected? Will you do what you’re told, even if you think you know better? Will you complete the practice necessary to get better and refuse to give up?
Sports don’t prepare most people for a life of sports. Sure, a talented few will move on to play in college, and an even smaller number will play some type of professional ball. But for most of us, sports is a fun outlet where we can learn skills that will help us in life.
If we learn to be teachable as volleyball players, we can be teachable as women. We won’t be as offended when our pastor says something we don’t like. We will accept the instruction of a godly example. We will constantly be asking someone who is farther down the path to tell us what we are doing wrong. We haven’t arrived. We should be constantly learning, growing, tweaking.
It’s easy to say we’re bad at passing a volleyball or planning the meals, but will we try to get better? There are so many resources now that we are literally without excuse. There are YouTube videos, pinterest tutorials, books, and instagram accounts that will teach you almost anything you want to know without you even having to ask a specific person.
Of course, who we ask, or watch, matters. It will do my volleyball players no good to ask their younger siblings to critique their passing. A five-year-old probably doesn’t know how to pass the ball or hit the ball or get a serve over the net. And in life, it matters who we ask even more.
Find the people with lives you want. Watch them before you decide to follow their example. If I have a conversation (and this really happened) with a girl in a waiting room about how her boyfriend is upset with her because she’s pregnant, I’m probably not going to ask her for marriage advice. If you hate being around your kids and they hate being around you, I’m not going to ask you any parenting questions. If your house is a wreck and you eat McDonalds every night, I won’t discuss homemaking strategies with you.
Does this mean I can’t learn anything from that person? Of course not. It doesn’t all have to come from one person. I can learn about marriage by watching one woman, have another friend to ask about raising my children, and discuss time management and cleaning schedules with another. There’s a reason we should surround ourselves with community: we need the teaching and the accountability. I need people to call me up. I need women to show me a better way.
If you haven’t arrived now, you probably aren’t going to. All of our lives we will be learning and growing. You can’t give up and you can’t beat yourself down. I told my girls that we want to have high standards for ourselves. We want to expect ourselves to learn to pass the ball and be loud on the court. But we are also going to give ourselves time to get there. We aren’t going to finish three practices and decide that if we can’t pass well today then we will never pass well.
Set the bar high. But have some grace for yourself as you work toward your goals. Find the examples. Pick one thing to work on. Practice it every day in some form, just like I have my girls practice setting against the wall. You get better by repetition and instruction.
Life is easier when we are teachable. We become better volleyball players, and women, when we insist on learning from those around us.