Game routines becoming key to success

Doug Gulasy

As the Kent State volleyball team gets ready to host two matches this weekend, the Flashes (17-6, 8-2 Mid-American Conference) will be sticking with the same daily routines that have helped them to one of the best starts in program history.

Kent State coach Glen Conley has tried to stress to his players this season the importance of having a routine for matches. He said routines can help get a team into a comfort zone when it plays.

“(Having a routine) takes a lot of the superstition out because I don’t have to eat a certain thing, and I don’t have to do this because my routine is similar,” he said. “I just believe that the way our bodies are built, they function better on routine than they do on spontaneity.”

Freshman player Celia Sabo said that while she didn’t think about routines much in high school, she now thinks having a routine helps.

“I think it works really well,” she said. “Pretty much all day we focus on the game and what it takes for us to get ready to play that night.”

A typical match day, such as today, will include the team getting together at 2:30 p.m., Conley said. From there, the Flashes will watch film and have a light pregame meal at 3 p.m.

At 5 p.m., the team holds serving and passing drills for a half hour. The Flashes then have 45 minutes free before they enter the gym for warm-up drills before their 7 p.m. match.

On the road, the routine can be somewhat different, mainly because the team spends more time together than it does at home.

“Obviously, we play better on the road right now,” sophomore Natalie Borland said about her team’s 12-3 road record. “Maybe being with (the other players) 100 percent is what’s making us win.”

Junior Krista Groce said the road routine is set “pretty much to the minute.”

“When we’re on the road, it’s very structured,” she said. “We wake up at a certain time, we eat breakfast at a certain time. We have itineraries that tell us exactly what time we’re doing everything.”

While the road routine has structure, the players have more free time when the team plays at home, which Conley said can make it more difficult to focus on a match.

However, Groce said she has no problem focusing when the team has a home match.

“Once I’m done with my first class (Friday), I’m just thinking about volleyball all day long. Even in class I am,” she said. “Once I get out of class, I’m just preparing myself for the match — not doing too much because you don’t want to tire yourself out, so I just start to get ready.”

Conley said it also helps if players have their own personal routines.

“Some people can go out and walk the malls or do whatever (before the match),” he said. “I could never do that, but some can. I’ve known friends of mine who are athletes who needed to get away. They needed to get a break from the film and all those kinds of things. Other people — they need that. They need to focus.”

Contact volleyball reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].