5 principles of leadership from a volleyball game

No one has ever nominated me for Most Valuable Player on a volleyball team. But add the hours spent on the court in college with the years at church camps, I do have some experience.

I’m not a volleyball expert, but I have made some observations about the game that directly relate to leadership. At almost every level of play, there are team components that must be in place in order to win.


Volleyball (indoor) is usually played with six players. Each player’s position on the court is linked to another. If the player isn’t positioned to assist a fellow player, the opponent has a scoring opportunity. Great leaders position themselves to link with the skills of others.


Players rotate in serving the ball. Once the ball is served, other players move into action to support that serve. Great leaders give team members an opportunity to lead, to take the initiatives that will call others into action. And once that leadership is given, they support it.


A volleyball team has no offense without a defense. Unless the team is alert, positioned to return the ball, and willing to pass or set in order to defend against the point, the offense won’t have a chance to score. Great leaders are great defenders, positioning themselves to protect the ideals and objectives of the team—no matter the cost.


On the assist, one player “sets” the ball in the air for another player to attack it for a “kill.” Great leaders are great assisters. They are willing to let others score points, taking delight in putting the organizational “ball” in a position for a colleague to “make the kill.”


Points or “side outs” are earned by attacking the ball to strike the ground on the opponent’s side of the court. In order to prevent a fault, only three touches are allowed before the ball hits the ground. Great leaders are willing to pass the ball to a team member for a “second chance” to hit the ball.

A leader’s success is based as much on cooperation as it is on concentration. And you’re that leader.


You are loved,