Luck isn’t something that I rely on when playing volleyball. Homer Simpson, one of my favorite cartoon characters, once said: “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I would have no luck at all.”
However, I learned from my high school coach, Dexter Harvey, that there is truly a “lucky” side to the court. I am practical; if there are two sides to a coin, the chance of getting either is going to be 50/50, no matter how many times you flip it. So, who cares what side of the court you get, right? Wrong.
It was game five after an intense four-game battle between my high school, San Dieguito Academy, and our conference rivals, Santa Fe Christian (who were state champs the previous two years in their division).
We won the first game, they won the second, we won the third, and they took the fourth. Notice a pattern?
Every time someone won, it was on one side of the court. For the fifth game, Dexter told the team captain to pick that side that everyone had won on and so she did. We won the fifth game and the match on their court.
I knew that we still had an equal chance of winning on either side, so why did being on a certain side of the court matter? I asked him about it afterwards.
He said that in many high school gyms, and especially in volleyball club facilities, the court’s background objects or colors can make it harder to see the volleyball clearly. I nodded, as this made more and more sense.
But the unscientific method he utilized at the time to select which side to defend was simple: he selected the side that has produced the most wins for either team.
When playing outdoor volleyball, whether beach volleyball or grass volleyball, other factors come into consideration, including:
* The sun: Can you put the sun into your opponents eyes?
* The court: Is the condition of the court better on one side? Is the footing more stable or is it more even?
* The wind: Is there a cross court or “with” court wind? If you have a solid float serve, be sure to serve into the wind, as the volleyball will break and “knuckle” more as the wind catches the seams of the volleyball and makes it float.
Maybe this scenario is best explained as: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” –Seneca (Roman dramatist, philosopher, & politician. 5 BC-65 AD)
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