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S.O.S. - Stress Output Score ™ – How To Successfully Stress Players In Practice For Both Your Program and Players Long-Term Success!

By Published on January 11, 2019 Andor Gyulai , 01/11/19, 12:00PM CST


Science has proven the correct doses of stress on the human body results in growth, both mentally and physically. Great High School Head Coaches understand this powerful facilitator to human growth. These coaches have learned how to purposely stress an athlete in practice without going near the point of physical or mental break down.

In the book Peak Performance, writers Brad Stulberg + Steve Magness outline the following new science: “Stress can be positive, triggering desirable adaptation in the body; or stress can be negative, causing grave damage and harm. The effects of stress depend almost entirely on the dose. And when applied in the right dose, stress does more than stimulate physiological adaptations. It stimulates psychological ones, too.”

Finding the correct dose and working with athletes to this point is one of the most difficult jobs as a High School Head Coaches in our opinion. Push them too much they hate you and you get fired, while pushing players to little starves them of the opportunity to grow as people, and ultimately, they choke under pressure during playoffs and then later in crucial life success moments.

“Our job as High School Head Coaches is not to coddle players. Our job is to prepare players for the stress of life and the big matches! We do this by creating a stressful environment in practice that mimics the environment they will experience in a match and life.” – Andor Gyulai, Volleyball1on1 Co-Founder.

Importantly; given how this generation responds to stress, the increase in helicopter / overprotective parenting and finally the more cautious approach of A.D. and athletic departments, coaches need to be far more cautious when stressing an athlete for growth. If you go too far, even with the best intentions, you could possibly jeopardize your position.

To help High School Head Coaches overcome these challenges, we at Volleyball1on1 have created the individual and team S.O.S. - Stress Output Score. ™

The Stress Output Score ™ is the amount a coach can stress a player or team before they need to “Rest” or take a break. Because stress, followed by rest, results in growth.

Stress + Rest = Growth

S.O.S. ™ - In action

Each player comes up with a S.O.S. ™ number for themselves and shares it with the coaching staff and team, normally at the start of practice. This score can change from day to day and the coach is made aware of that score by the player where possible.

The team “Leadership Council” also gives the team a score at the start of each practice which we write on the board with the practice plan. The coaching staff then uses the S.O.S. scores as a barometer of how hard we can train players individually or as a team that day.

I’m Sending Out An S.O.S. ™  

During practice players can communicate they need to “Rest” and are reaching their individual or team “Stress” limit, essentially their S.O.S. – Stress Output Score ™ limit! How they do this is by putting out an S.O.S. / MAYDAY to the coach that they have hit their limit.

“Coach S.O.S.”

At that stage the coach moves on, reduces the stress level of the player or the team based upon who was being pushed. Other activities follow that focus on new players or easier tasks for the team.

It’s Bigger Than Volleyball ™ , Whole Person Growth ™.

As a coach our goal is to work with players over the course of the season to help them improve their S.O.S. - Stress Output Score ™. In doing this we help players grow as people who can manage more pressure / stress in the world.

Just as importantly by using our principals of Whole Person Growth ™ coaches can set a Self-Ideal of a high S.O.S. ™ both individually as a player and as a team.

Then over the course of a season, coaches “create an environment” where they “recognize excellence”  in the self-ideal of a high S.O.S. ™ thus building players self-image and self-esteem in their S.O.S. ™ number.

The result is they build confidence in their ability to manage stress / pressure through practice and can therefore do it both on and off the volleyball court!